In this interview with Peter Guinane, CEO of Oriole Landscaping, he shares why landscaping could be the thing which makes your house stand out in the neighbourhood! He also talks about how to work with other consultants on your project as well as how you can save money on your landscaping by doing a few things you might not have considered.
Jeffrey: Today I have with me Peter Guinane, the CEO of Oriole Landscaping, a premium landscaping firm that does business over the entire greater Toronto area. Peter, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about Oriole Landscaping.
Peter: Oriole Landscaping is a design build landscape company. And we specialize primarily in residential or custom, commercial, or institutional work where there’s a specific requirement for our type of landscaping, but primarily high-end residential in the city of Toronto.
Jeffrey: Now one of the things that I know people listening to this are going to want to understand is how a well-designed landscape enhances the value of that property. Can you start by talking a little bit about that?
Peter: Well, absolutely. The most important aspects of a landscape are the structural integrity so that it doesn’t become a liability as it weathers. We live in Canada. We have seasons. And we have a lot of weather. So anything that isn’t built properly will deteriorate and become a liability for the property within a few years.
If we can design it so that structurally it’s sound and then also obviously it has all the aesthetic attributes that compliments the architecture of the house, that it doesn’t grow too quickly and outgrow its space. Especially in the city where we have small spaces primarily. We try and design things that have a reasonable life expectancy in their confined space. So nothing that grows wild, really.
Jeffrey: I see. And you talked a little bit about working with the architecture. How do you work with other consultants on jobs, primarily architects?
Peter: Well, with architects we are often brought in late in the process which sometimes works if we have a good architect and they’ve anticipated what the landscape really needs. Then sometimes we pick up where the architect has created some suggestions. We can pick up and carry it through to completion and complete the design-phase of the work.
Ideally we would be brought in early with the design process and work with the architect. If there’s going to be structural elements in the garden, they could be built in conjunction with the foundations of the house so that you actually save a lot of money. We want to put a swimming pool in the backyard of the house. It’s a lot easier when there’s no house in the way and as such less expensive for the client. So I’d say the sooner we’re brought in to just even to consult, then the better it is for the client and for everyone involved.
Jeffrey: One of the things that have also been asked is, “How would a client go out and select a landscape? What are some of the things that they need to look for to make sure that they get good value for what their project is all about?”
Peter: Well, I guess what we find is our best customers are customers that have seen our work. So they live nearby a project we’ve done and they’ve seen our process. They see the quality of the work. They see what the finished product is. Or they’re friends with or they were referred to by an architect, a builder, or a friend so that they know what to expect. I’d guess to find somebody that’s a good fit if you’re just looking on the Internet or you don’t have any connections, I think you’d have to interview them.
Make sure that you have a good ability to communicate because construction effectively is about a communication cycle. And good or bad, you want to know about it. So I think having a contractor or designer that you can get in touch with easily, that responds quickly, that can connect you with the right people. And they’re not trying to sell you a bill of goods. They’re trying to facilitate the process more.
Jeffrey: That’s something that we stress as well talking to our clients is the ability to stay in touch with the project. Not only at the beginning where we’re really talking to clients and trying to find out what they need, but also through the construction phase as we’re trying to basically streamline communications and facilitate everything which happens on a job. So one of the things I’ve also been asked are, “Do you see any trends in landscape design? Things that you think people are doing sort of up and coming trends in design?”
Peter: Well, I’d say a favorite trend. I don’t know if it’s new. But low maintenance is still probably the first and foremost criteria that we’re asked to design around. Whether or not they do it themselves or not, they don’t want to have something that’s going to cost them an arm and a leg to maintain.
Occasionally we get gardeners or wealthy clients that have no care for what the bill is. But low maintenance is probably first. Having seasonal interest is obviously something that it isn’t new. But we have some new materials now at our disposal that we can create a more interesting, year- round look.
And new trends, I guess introducing more tropical elements or tropical textures into the garden is something that coincides with being outside more. People, I guess they attribute being outside with summer weather and summer weather being more tropical. So the type of furniture that we’re incorporating is really. . . I mean, there’s some furniture for outside that’s nicer than the stuff that I have in my house. People are living outside more, I guess, is the biggest transition that I’ve noticed in the last few years.
Jeffrey: Yeah. That’s exactly what some of our clients have said is they really see their outdoor space as an extension of their indoor space. Almost as another room which they can use to entertain friends, family, guests, over the months that we have nice weather in this area. In terms of other trends, have you noticed any clients asking for more ecologically- friendly landscape designs?
Peter: I think they do that in a subtle way. I think they do that indirectly when they’re asking for low maintenance because native plant material and ecologically low impact material is generally native planting. And they go hand-in-hand with low maintenance. They require less water, less weeding. They’ve adapted to our local predators.
So I think they don’t necessarily demand the greenest possible “landscape”, but I think they do expect it to be. – It’s almost past that point now where being environmental is almost expected. And you don’t have to ask for it even, especially from a landscape company or anybody.
Peter: We’re the original green company.
Jeffrey: Yeah. Of course. Of course. And that’s something where I think that, like you say, talking with the architect and making sure those choices indoors are reflected outdoors to help unify the entire project and look.
So one final question to wrap up. Have you noticed something that your clients are doing that enables them to have a successful project that could help other people listening to this?
Peter: Honestly, I couldn’t stress communication enough. And I think the clients that we have that are. . . Our goal, our mission statement is to turn every client into a raving fan. And the only way we can do that is to answer their questions and to respond to their requests quickly and appropriately. And every job will have an issue. At some point or another something will come up. Something happens on the job. It rains, and they weren’t expecting it. Or something changes.
If you respond to it in a timely manner and you communicate why and how, and then you can keep your client happy throughout the process. And I think that’s what you really want at the end of the day is obviously the project has to be built well. But you don’t want it to be a stressful process.
Jeffrey: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s something which we try to stress with our clients as well is the fact that they don’t have to be experts in construction in order to get a successful project. That’s what we do is we help to mediate the process and allow them to get the results they deserve at the end of the process. Well thanks, Peter. I really appreciate your time. And I’m sure everyone listening to this appreciates your insights as well. If people want to get a hold of Oriole Landscaping, what’s the best way to do it?
Peter: Well, the easiest way to find us and to learn a little about us and contact us is through our website, which is OrioleLandscaping.com. And we have a lot of information on the site to help interested people investigate possibilities with their landscape. If they want to call us at any time, they’re more than welcome or e-mail and telephone. And I will be happy to answer any questions they have.
Jeffrey: Okay, Peter. Well, thanks for taking the time. I know you’re in the truck right now.
Peter: It’s my office. I’m in my mobile office.
Jeffrey: Thanks again for taking the time. And take care.
Peter: Okay, Jeff. Thank you.
You can contact Peter at 416-696-5110 or check out their website www.oriolelandscaping.com