Lowbrow landscape consultation?

I inherited a backyard full of concrete. I’m in the process of removing most of it, and my hope is to spend the rest of this year amending the soil and thinking about what I’d like to do with space, then be ready next year to tackle a redesign. I’m not a person who will want to outsource all the design and labor—I don’t have that kind of money, but besides that, DIYing both design and labor to the degree I am able sounds fun and rewarding to me, I’m excited to do it. Simultaneously I need a professional who understands about materials, water drainage and a million other things, to help me see possibilities and avoid stumbling into logistically problematic choices, and answer questions along the way.

In this crazy place where so many people just want a fancy landscape architect to swoop in, design something slick and hire a bunch of contractors to execute it—and are able and willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars for that—who can I call? If I were just re-doing a garden and choosing plants that would be one thing, but I’m thinking about infrastructure challenges (ie water drainage), devoting some areas to drought tolerant soft coverage (maybe a grass or even just clover), maybe adding an outdoor shower with water going to yard/garden...

Does anyone know of a landscaper who has this knowledge and would be willing to consult with me on a kind of piecemeal basis? 

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Oscar Martinez 415-786-2335 We worked with him for this exact kind of setup and his team did a really great job.  Another person I've worked with for fences and inside projects but I know he does full landscaping like you're describing too is Wullian Fuilien 510-719-0968.  Both these guys are very personable and easy to work with, same with the crew members they've brought with them.  I felt really good working with both, and both came recommended to me by folks whose judgment I trust (a very high end contractor friend recommended Oscar to us).  They don't have staff to do invoicing and such so the payment part can be somewhat ad hoc, so if you have specific budget and want detailed invoices just clarify all that with them.  Good luck!

Call around and try to find a landscaper who might be willing to be and consult by the hour. A few years ago I found a nice lady who charged me by the hour and spent about 1.5 hours walking around my yard giving suggestions. It wasn't cheap, but it was worth it. I don't have her name anymore but you can try calling around to see if anyone offers that service. You can also try TaskRabbit.

you can find someone to do a consultation with you from one of these directories


Also, I might recommend going to the used book store and getting a practical landscaping type book. There are always tons of them. Sunset books or books from better homes and gardens will teach you how to build a path or whatever. As for what to plant try the EBMUD  Plants and Landscapes for Summer Dry Climates book.