Intro

An Introduction to BML Studio

BML Studio LLC is a full service Landscape Architecture firm providing design and planning services to Architects, Engineers, Homeowners, and Agencies.

While the larger Engineering firms provide a greater scope of in-house services, which attracts more clients, their fees are equally greater. BML Studio LLC is changing the game by offering a full range of Landscape Architectural services at a competitive cost. This allows Engineers and Architects to provide quality Landscape Architectural services without the cost and effort in hiring a full time employee. Good projects attract good clients! Our process enables us to work as an extension of your own office. It also enables Homeowner’s to attain the services of a Licensed Landscape Architect at a cost they can afford before making any expensive improvements to their property.

 

What is a Landscape Architect?

WHAT IS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT?

Landscape Architects are more than just landscapers or guys that tell you where to plant a bush. We are stewards of the land. While most people associate Landscape Architects with planting designs, our skills are far more reaching. In fact, Landscape Architecture is a licensed profession in all 50 states.

Landscape Architecture is a blend of art and science. It’s a form of art where the expressive medium is alive and dynamic over time. Most artists and engineers spend a lot of time making sure their creations look and function the same after 20 years, or even longer. Landscape Architects spends time envisioning how the design will evolve over time. They must envision how the plants will grow; how sun and shade patterns will change; the effects of freeze and thaw cycles, and how constructed features will begin to wear out. It takes a lot of thought to create a visually appealing landscape, but it requires a lot more education, creativity, and experience to plan for the future.

As an example, in addition to trees, shrubs, flowers, and other types of plants, a residential landscape may require the addition of decks, outdoor kitchens, irrigation, pools and spas, structures, and children’s play areas. A landscape architect is someone who can design all of these elements and integrate them into a logical and visually appealing plan for your property. The Landscape Architect must consider how much sun and shade will be on the pool upon initial construction, as well as down the line when the trees and shrubs grow. We must also consider how the play areas will be used and how those spaces will be used once the children are grown.

A landscape architect can also assist in determining the best way to incorporate lighting, hardscape elements, and plants (softscape) into your outdoor spaces. A Landscape Architect is able to design outdoor structures, knows how to deal with site issues and challenges (like drainage or slope problems), and is be able to advise homeowners on locating driveways, pools, decks, parking areas, entries, and other elements. They can also assist in locating, or relocating utility service lines. At BML Studio, we are familiar with landscape construction materials and services, and can work with you towards your budget.

In addition to residential landscapes, Landscape Architects also design parks, campuses, streetscapes, trails, plazas, and other projects that help define a community. Currently, landscape architects are working with medical professionals to design landscapes that help reduce stress, boost immunity, promote physical activity, and cut down on time spent in hospitals. Landscape Architects are often consulted for the development of assisted living facilities, alzheimer care facilities, hospitals, and other medically related developments.

Landscape Architects can assist in the design of green roofs and living walls. These features help to reduce the carbon footprint associated with development and the introduction of impervious surfaces.

 

Why a Landscape Architect?

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT VS. LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

Every profession has varying degrees of experience levels and capabilities. The world of landscape design is no exception. In short, companies which offer landscape design services can be broken down into two major groups; Landscape Designers and Landscape Architects. While the names are similar, and to many the names are interchangeable, the difference between the two is significant.

Landscape Architecture is the art of creating visually appealing and meaningful designs that provide for individual and public health, safety, and well being, while being sensitive to the environment. Landscape Architecture is a unique art form in that the medium is alive.

Landscape Architect

A Landscape Architect is a state-licensed design professional with a degree in Landscape Architecture from an accredited college or university. Landscape Architects use their technical and artistic talents to plan and design the built environment. They consider light and shade patterns, drainage characteristics of the land, soil types, and other environmental factors which will influence the success of the landscape design. They create drawings, constriction documents, and specifications that dictate the allocation, arrangement, and construction of various land elements and resources. Practicing Landscape Architecture, or using the title “Landscape Architect” without having a state license is a violation of the Landscape Architects Practice Act. Landscape Architects are also required to have professional liability insurance which provides a level of protection to the client.

Through formal training, education, and experience, Landscape Architects can provide more than just planting plans. They are well versed in grading and drainage as well as the design and construction of hardscape elements, such as pools, ponds, patios, decks, outdoor rooms, living walls, arbors, pergolas, retaining walls, and other constructed features. Landscape Architects are trained in preparing professional plans and exhibits which can be used for visual presentations. This important when permits or zoning board approvals are required.

With knowledge and experience in design and construction, the Landscape Architect often acts as a representative to the owner during the construction process. Without any direct association to the contractor, the Landscape Architect can oversee the construction to ensure the owner is getting a quality product.

Landscape Designer

Landscape Designers are not licensed or regulated by the state. As such, there is no minimum insurance, education, or formal training required. In short, anyone can call themselves a Landscape Designer.

Some Landscape Designers are very well versed in plant materials and are very capable planting designers. However, if a designer is tied to a construction, or landscape company, it may prove difficult to obtain competitive bid prices. As a result, the owner is faced with various proposals from different companies; each offering a different design and price point.

Although some Landscape Designers will prepare plans and project specifications, they are often incomplete and result in change orders and “extras” during construction.

At BML Studio, all plans are prepared by a Licensed Landscape Architect.

 

10 Reasons to use a Landscape Architect

1. Landscape architects will increase the value of your home.

Hiring a landscape architect is one of the best investments for your home, adding as much as 15 percent to its value over comparable houses. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will not only add value, but also extend your living space while allowing you to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Arbors, installed seating, fountains, fire pits/fireplaces, patios, and even outdoor kitchens can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable. And research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

2. Landscape architects have a plan.

A big advantage of hiring landscape architects is that they’re trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property’s problem areas as well as possibilities and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will also help you select the perfect materials, styles, textures, and colors for your landscape project. A landscape architect will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

3. Landscape architects design low-maintenance gardens featuring beautiful native plants.

For those who are looking for low-maintenance gardens, native plants are the way to go—and a landscape architect can incorporate them into your landscape design. Native plants reduce water costs and often reduce chemical applications. Also,insects like bumble bees and butterflies flourish among them. One trend that relies on native plants is called xeriscaping, which reduces the need for supplemental watering or irrigation.

4. Landscape architects know where to place trees to lower energy bills.

The proper placement of trees and large shrubs can actually lower energy bills by reducing heating and cooling costs, and a knowledgeable landscape architect knows exactly where they should be placed.

5. Landscape architects incorporate permeable paving.

Permeable paving can offer solutions for driveway flooding or just add beauty to patios and sidewalks, while reducing runoff and encouraging groundwater recharge. A landscape architect can integrate permeable paving into your home landscape.

6. Landscape architects design beautiful rain gardens.

A landscape architect can create a properly placed rain garden for backyards that might experience seasonal flooding. Rain gardens also create a habitat for birds and beneficial insects. These gardens help to filter rainwater runoff away from sidewalks and lawns and allow the water to infiltrate back into the ground. They are more attractive than a storm drain or French drain.

7. Landscape architects design natural swimming pools.

Unlike the aquamarine-colored pools of the past, a natural pool looks and sometimes acts like a natural pond, but also offers all the benefits of a chlorinated pool with less maintenance and harsh chemicals. A landscape architect can work with you to create a beautiful, all-natural backyard pool.

8. Landscape architects can devise the perfect drip irrigation system.

Drip irrigation systems water plants right at the root and serve as an efficient alternative to sprinkler systems. But an incorrectly installed irrigation system can not only cost extra dollars on a monthly water bill, but it can also kill all of the new plants it’s meant to be helping. Over-watering is a huge problem in many residential landscapes and one that can be easily avoided by hiring a landscape architect. Be sure to get a timer for maximum effectiveness.

9. Landscape architects offer expertise from start to finish.

Landscape architects will remain involved with the construction and follow through. This ensures the client is getting a well constructed landscape that meets the intents of the original design. What the homeowner may consider a long weekend project might actually take weeks.

10. Landscape architects will design a landscape you will love.

Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love but also comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

 

What is a Professional Planner?

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL PLANNER?

Professional Planners (PP), often called Land Use Planners, or Urban Planners, help to create a broad vision for the community. We research, design, and develop community programs; effect social change, perform technical analysis of various community demographics, and educate decision and policy makers on current planning principles. Professional Planners are state-licensed professionals.

As simple as it sounds, Professional Planners plan. Essentially, a plan is developed through analysis of data and identification of goals for the community, or specific development project. The plan can be a drawn plan, such as a map, but it can also take the form of policy recommendations, community action plans, comprehensive plans, strategic plans, or emergency preparedness plans. When creating a plan, Professional Planners identify the strategies by which the community can reach its goals and vision. Planners are also responsible for the implementation or enforcement of many of the strategies; often coordinating the work of many groups.

In New Jersey, Professional Planners are considered experts the Municipal Land Use Law. This, along with their knowledge of planning principles and development impacts, qualifies them to provide testimony in support, or against requested land use variances.

Similar to Landscape Architects, Professional Planners are also licensed to prepare Site Plans for development and re-development projects that do not require stormwater management design.

 

About BML Studio

A Little Background on BML Studio

BML Studio LLC is a full service Landscape Architecture firm providing design and planning services to Architects, Engineers, Homeowners, and Agencies. The founder, and current President of BML Studio, Brian M. Leff, is a graduate from Cook College at Rutgers University, and is currently licensed as a Landscape Architect in NJ, NY, PA, and DE.  He is also licensed as a Professional Planner in NJ.

A NJ native, Mr. Leff, grew up with a love for the outdoors. Whether fishing, biking, golfing, or just strolling through the park, it was tough to keep him inside on a nice day. (sometimes even on the rainy days) After graduating from Rutgers University, the first few years of his practice were spent designing residential properties and estates for a design / build landscape company.  After that he, he joined a small engineering firm that provided the opportunity to expand his professional skills to include commercial site plans, conceptual master plans, and conceptual subdivision plans. He also attained his Professional Planner license and began providing professional testimony as a Professional Planner at Planning and Zoning Boards throughout the state of NJ. Working alongside talented and knowledgeable Civil Engineers, he gained a good understanding of how all the pieces of a Site Plan fit together and the various regulations that impact development in NJ. He also gained knowledge and appreciation for the roles of the development team members: the Owner, Architect, Engineer, Professional Planner, Land Use Attorney, and other specialized team members. He then joined a much larger firm which provided Mr. Leff with even more opportunities to further develop his professional skills. Expanding on his knowledge, he became involved with public projects such as parks, playgrounds, living shorelines, wetland and riparian restoration, and streetscapes; many of which have received awards and recognition.

During his time with the larger engineering company, he was also responsible for reviewing Landscape Plans, which were prepared by other engineering firms, on behalf of various municipal Planning and Zoning Boards. While many of the plans reviewed met local zoning ordinance standards, they often lacked aesthetics and were not sustainable. In general, it was easy to see how development projects were falling short of their potential. As most Architectural and Civil Engineering firms do not employ full time Landscape Architects, the Landscape Plans were often prepared, and signed, by other design professionals.

While the larger Engineering firms provide a greater scope of in-house services, which attracts more clients, their fees are equally greater. BML Studio LLC is changing the game by offering a full range of Landscape Architectural services at a competitive cost. This allows Engineers and Architects to provide quality Landscape Architectural services without the cost and effort in hiring a full time employee. Good projects attract good clients! Our process enables us to work as an extension of your own office. It also enables Homeowner’s to attain the services of a Licensed Landscape Architect at a cost they can afford before making any expensive improvements to their property.