Where is everybody?!
Most likely, we're at one of three places:
In other words, we're in our primetime, working like mad to transform old eyesore yards into veritable Edens… "by summer."
Fortunately, the Bay Area enjoys a long summer: well into November, in fact. And if you're just beginning the design process this late in May, chances are you're going to need every week you can get. So what can you do to speed things along?
1) Know your yard. How big is it? (In square feet, please, not adverbs: "fairly big" doesn't help me nearly as much as "8000 square feet"). What's in it? (Again, bonus points for specificity: "it's really boring" is less useful than "it has an old lawn that I stopped watering 3 years ago, bordered by a 7-foot-high hedge that blocks my windows.") And what do you want it to become? (Say it with me: "Make it more interesting" doesn't help. "Evoke the Tuscan countryside" is a good start.)
2) Know your budget. I've lost count of how many times I've been asked, "how much will it cost to landscape our yard?" The short answer is, it will cost as much as you have to spend. Left to my own devices, trust me, I will design a wonderland that will break you. Your only chance of staying out of bankruptcy court is to tell me ahead of time exactly how much money you have to spend on this little adventure — no more, no less. Otherwise, the best scenario you can hope for is to waste your money paying me to design a yard you can't afford to build.
3) Know yourself. What styles do you like and dislike? How much time and money do you have to spend on maintaining your new garden? How do you want to feel in your new outdoor space? What colors, scents or sounds make you feel that way? If you see examples of things you like - whether in print, online, or in the "real" world - tear out the pages, print the screenshot, snap a photo. Build an idea file to guide yourself and your designer. Even if you don't know why you like something, collect it. The good designer can synthesize what seems like a random jumble and divine the common elements that speak to you.
When I begin working with a client, I start them off with a questionnaire that gets at all this information and then some. It still doesn't guarantee the design process will go quickly; but it does give us some specific targets to aim for so that the resulting landscape will delight your senses and inspire your soul.
And isn't that worth waiting for?