(May 5, 2006) -- Kathy Alford believes a person's garden is an extension of their inside living space. When designing an outdoor area for a customer, her designs are informed partly by past experience and partly by first impression.
Alford's English Gardens is a "landscape design and install" company. Their personalized service creates and implements custom landscape designs. Alford is certified as a horticulturalist, arborist and pest management specialist. Also, she is a member and vice-president of the Southern California district Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
"When I go into [a client's] house, I can usually pick up on what their style is," says Alford. In an initial interview, she spends time with a client, pouring over books, discussing personal preferences and expectations, options and limitations. But she also makes observations about how the inside of a person's home can be extended to their outdoor living space.
Alford says by establishing a personal relationship with her client, she is able to individualize each design; each garden has a personality as unique as its owner's. "I think it goes back to personalized service," says Alford. "I work with each person and we create a garden together."
Alford does a variety of landscape designs, including the "California Friendly" gardens that have become popular around the Southwest United States. The naturalized gardens use indigenous, drought resistant plants that are not only attractive but also low maintenance-perfect for the homeowner who doesn't have a spare eight hours a week to spend on upkeep.
As the company name implies, Alford has a specialty. "My very favorite are the country and English gardens," says Alford. Although traditional English gardens are high maintenance, Alford works in an updated version of the classic style.
"I try to adapt it to the area," says Alford. "I do a lot of lavenders which is a little less maintenance but still gives the look."
Alford's sentimental attachment to the gardens she designs runs deep. A professionally landscaped home can add about twelve percent to the value of a person's home, and yet, as Alford points out, the real value to the person who gets to sit in the garden is priceless. "It's an investment in [one's] serenity and peace of mind."