4 min read

Not Just a Client

Complete Landsculpture of Texas Designs & Builds a Functional Outdoor Living Space in a Small Patio Area

Complete Landsculpture of Texas Designs & Builds a Functional Outdoor Living Space in a Small Patio Area

Landscaping industry personnel work with hundreds, if not thousands, of clients throughout their careers. It can be easy to settle into a routine when interacting with clients, choosing design styles, building techniques or workflow and even preferred equipment. This monotony can take away from the humanity that is truly at the root of this job. Quality landscaping work happens when professionals get to know clients and understand their needs fully. A seasoned landscaping leader, who manages multi-million dollar projects throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region, offers a tip. To avoid becoming too transactional with clients, pretend each job is your grandparents’ yard.

Complete Landsculpture (16)Aerial View of the Front of the Property

“You might talk back to your parents. You might have a sly moment. But you’re never going to talk back to your grandma or grandpa,” says Tim McAuliffe, a senior landscape consultant at Complete Landsculpture in Dallas. “You’re always going to respect them. I treat everybody like I’m working for my grandma, for my grandpa.”

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"That is how I show love to my
& to the work that I do.

Complete Landsculpture (17)Tim began his landscaping career 20-plus years ago, joining Complete Landsculpture in 2018. The full-service team is an LM Top 150 Landscape company in America and manages commercial and residential projects in DFW. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) celebrated one of the team’s recent projects this year. A patio garden in Plano is named among the 2023 Awards of Excellence, specifically in the Residential Design/Build $100,000-$500,000 category. Tim and his team celebrated this project long before the NALP recognition, though. It brought unique challenges from beginning to end, but the team managed to respond to each with creativity, adaptability and supreme customer service.

Another company started the design process and even submitted the paperwork for the permit with the city. They weren’t under contract, though. When the client saw their plans, they decided to go in a different direction. Tim and his team worked closely with the client to determine what they disliked about the other group’s design and focus on what the client really needed.

“The initial consultation is key,” says Tim. “I have several questions that I ask before any job. Things like do you have pets or kids, how long do you plan to live in the house, what do you do when you are outside. Simple, but helps foster great conversation and develop the relationship with the client. Eventually, we get past the small talk and into more open-ended questions with thoughtful answers.”

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Side Entry Before & After

Tim says he, like many professionals, can get caught up in the details of a project—things like the drainage system, the materials, the weather, etc.—and lose focus on his main priority: client satisfaction.

"Be dedicated to being engaged. We
aren’t in the landscaping business. We
are in the listening business

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Front Entryway

“When you get the most information possible from a client, you channel it through your work,” Tim says. Ultimately, this maximizes your client satisfaction, which maximizes your reputation, which maximizes your clientele, which maximizes your success as a team. That is how to run a successful landscape business.”

The clients in this project weren’t looking for a traditional backyard space. They hoped to essentially extend the inside of their home to the back patio, which only had a small amount of space to work with. The owners wanted natural sunlight to flood the space and into the home, and they wanted the area to be easy to maintain. Most requests seemed doable but carrying out the plan proved to be more challenging.

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Visitor's First View

The roadblocks started early, permitting confusion. Tim filed a permit with the city but was immediately turned down. The last contractor had already applied for a permit, so nothing could move forward until they withdrew the initial application.

“The other contractor’s biggest issue is that he didn’t listen to the clients and what they wanted,” Tim explains. “He tried building an elaborate design that would change a lot about the space. That is why we ended up on the job.”

Tim and his team had to contact the other contractor and wait for their action, which took about three weeks. The waiting period continued when Tim filed his own plans and waited for the city’s permission.

After receiving all required approvals, they began weighing the best way to access the space. The neighboring properties surrounded the patio, and the only way in or out was through a small gate on the side. Heavy machinery couldn’t fit through the gate, so 90 percent of the work had to be done by hand.

“It was a strange process,” Tim says. “We really wanted to keep the integrity of the space like the clients asked, so we had to be strategic in everything we did.”

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Most of the crew were Complete Landsculpture team members. Several installed the structure, others worked on the concrete scheme, and one group managed the synthetic turf and plantings. A few subcontractors helped with the electricity and plumbing. Overall, it took roughly nine months for installation and design. Working in such a small space is something Tim says he anticipates doing more.

“Many people in Texas are investing in their outdoor spaces,” says Tim. “For the most part, people in the south can use their outdoor spaces year-round, so even if they only have a small patio or piece of alley between their neighbors, they want to make it a usable area. Especially people leaving more expensive areas like California or New England, they have more money to invest in better outdoor living.”

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Tim says with each client and each unique space, he always prioritizes understanding their ideas and goals.

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“If you know people and care about their project, you’re going to take the time to ask the right questions,” he says. “This will help you set the right expectations and, eventually, your clients won’t even feel like a client. That is the best way to do business.”

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Get In Touch With...

Tim McAuliffe
Sr. Landscape Consultant & Outdoor Living Designer at Edge Outdoor Living

Phone: (910)380–4809
Email: tim@edgelandco.com