January 2, 2019

Landstylist Helps You Design Your Perfect Outdoor Space

Landstylist is a website that helps people design and get inspiration for their outdoor space. Founded in 2014 by Julie Farris, the site offers three key features. Design Package allows you to hire Landstylist to put together a garden for you that fits specification, get inspiration from their DIY category, and Shop allows you to get specific plants and/or elements based on your budget. I caught up with Farris to learn more about how Landstylist came to be, as well as how the company has evolved over time.

Tell me the story of how Landstylist was founded. What was the aha moment?

Julie Farris
Landstylist Founder Julie Farris.

Landstylist was founded on the desire to make thoughtful, stylish, and enduring landscape design more accessible to a much wider market. After grad school, I worked on all kinds of projects, from large-scale public landscapes in big firms, to master plans in Rwanda and Nepal, art installations, and high-end residential townhouse gardens and rooftops, and many of these projects won awards and have been featured in both magazines and newspapers. I’d say that my ‘aha moment’ has been the long process of realizing that sadly, most people can’t afford to hire me—which really shouldn’t be the case. Good landscape design shouldn’t be out of reach, because it’s needed now more than ever, and most people are interested in it—either for design, planting, concern for our environment, organic farming, gardening as therapy, or all of the above. Yet, somehow good landscape design has largely been out of reach for most, so people either hire a higher-priced designer (if they can afford it), or for lack of an alternative option, visit a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes on the weekend (praying they get a salesperson that knows plants). Most of us fall in between these extremes, and this is exactly the market Landstylist seeks to help, by offering one place for easy, transparent, modern and stylish information, with reasonably-priced design packages, and plants and products tailored to your location, style and budget. Landstylist offers three different reasonably priced design packages (‘Looks’ Board $199, ‘Plan’ Board $299 and ‘Project’ (consultations) $300+ with price TBD based on scope and level of involvement. We also offer a highly curated shop of tried-and-true plants and outdoor elements I love to use, and even a DIY section organized by specific garden type and look for people who might have the inclination to their gardens themselves but don’t know where to start.

For those who don't know, what does the company do? What is the problem you're trying to solve?

Landstylist is an online one-stop-shop for people with outdoor space who need ideas and inspiration. From wherever you live in the US, you can go to Landstylist and choose from our three categories. For example, you can purchase a Design Package, with products at different price points, get inspiration for your garden from our DIY category, or Shop for very select plants and elements depending on what you need and your budget. No outdoor space is too small or insignificant, and every space presents an opportunity for creativity whether it’s a backyard, terrace, balcony, window box, or even fire escape if you live in the city and that’s outdoor space.

How has the company evolved over time?

Landstylist started basically as a curated collection of products I liked so they could all be in one place for others to access. With each project I took on, I was always fishing for that fixture I saw somewhere, or that plant that I couldn’t remember the name. And then there are tiles, stone, furniture, pavers, edging—and it was a giant clutter on my desk. Then I realized that most people have this issue, and if I think this is overwhelming, imagine how people feel who aren’t actually trained to do this. The basic bones of a garden require a lot to come together—plants, paving, irrigation, soil, lighting. Then design, which requires attention to scale, proportion, and materiality, as well as knowledge of plants, and the patience for installation. To do it well is not easy.

I began to consider Landstylist as a way to address this need (which can feel overwhelming), and how best to streamline the design process without sacrificing quality, to avoid producing a product that might feel reductive or predictable.  The fact that we offer online plans that are researched (we identify planting zones, and plants native and or successful to a particular region) by professionals to address the specific needs of our Clients is very important, as it’s the quality of the work we produce that sets Landstylist apart. We now get requests to design plans for people all over the country, from Bainbridge Island to Brooklyn, and everywhere in between. Plans have keyed areas with an easy to follow plants + elements page and links to all of the proposed products. Sometimes people purchase a block of time to discuss their outdoor spaces in advance, and we always require at least 8-10 photos and responses to questions about their space.

How big is the team? What are your hiring plans?

Right now we are three, and because we are growing rapidly I imagine we will be making some new hires quite soon. I’m hoping that over time we can bring designers in across the country into a network of landscape designers and experts to better address local needs and demands. I’m also in the midst of looking for a business partner, so the search is on!

What comes next for Landstylist?

There are so many opportunities in this space. Right now, we’re working with a fabricator to expand our site with a line of stylish and practical modern garden products, designed by Landstylist, that could be used in most residential garden contexts.  

Any final thoughts?

Good outdoor design makes people very happy. It’s the reason I love this profession—it’s very uplifting and rewarding, and it opens people’s minds and hearts to nature. As a native New Yorker, I’ve known the smallest of outdoor design contributions to go a long way.  

Landstylist hopes to make that sentiment more widespread by making good landscape design more of a mainstream product available to anyone who wishes to have a thoughtfully designed outdoor space tailored just to them.

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia​​