20 September 2022

Those of you with intermittent backache will probably remember a time before handheld technology was such a huge part of our lives: a time when you had to call your friends using a landline, and only if somebody in your family wasn’t already using the dial-up internet.

We’ve come a long way since those dark days, and as technology advances so do our methods of designing and creating perfect gardens. One great example of this is virtual reality (or VR), which is proving to be a fantastic tool for showcasing designed gardens. If you’ve watched shows such as “Your Garden Made Perfect” you’ll likely be familiar with VR’s role in helping people understand home renovations.

In today’s blog, we’re going to talk you through the benefits of virtual reality within the garden design arena, and how we incorporate this amazing technology into our full Design & Build service.

Beyond Tron

For those of you unfamiliar with the advancements within VR, you may be visualizing a matrix-style office space where we hook our clients up to their gardens. But, VR tech has come a long way in the past few years. Minimal headsets and simple software now allow you to enter a virtual space from the comfort of your own home…heck, from the comfort of your favourite armchair (so you don’t need to worry about falling over). Once a design concept is completed, we present it to the customer alongside paper copies of the initial concept designs, so they can truly experience what their new garden will look and feel like.

We use Meta Quest 2, combined with Sketchup Viewer for VR to share the initial garden design concept. This combination allows us to design without limits, while still sharing the product in an innovative way. Granted, some of our customers choose not to view their garden in VR for various reasons (which we completely support), but for those that do, there are many benefits.

Garden Design VR helps you visualize your new space

We love designing gardens, and we’ve got a fair few under our belts, so when a customer begins their initial consultation and tells us the features and materials they’d like, it’s relatively easy for us to imagine how that will be designed, and how it will look once construction is completed. More specifically, we’re able to clearly picture each feature in relation to the space. It’s become clear over the years, though, that not all of our customers find it easy to visualize what they want, or how their new space will look.

It’s one thing to see your ideas on paper, or within the final 2D, or 3D video design, but it adds an entirely new layer when you’re able to get a sense of space and depth, and understand how each part of your garden fits into the design by walking through it (virtually, of course).

In our experience, customers love seeing their garden in VR. Many are excited to try VR for the first time, and all have loved experiencing their new garden before construction begins. They’re able to “step into the space”, and really envision what their new garden will be like once the work is completed.

There are surprise benefits to VR

When we first introduced VR, we expected it to be a fun experience; something of a novelty for excited customers eager to get going with their new garden. And it was! However, it also brought with it some surprise benefits we weren’t necessarily expecting.

Firstly, our clients have fewer questions. Don’t get us wrong, we love talking over every element of a design, and the whole team is happy to answer questions during the entire Design & Build process. But, we hadn’t ever quantified how many of our clients’ questions had been linked with not being able to “see the space” before construction begins. While we actively encourage homeowners to ask all the questions that pop up, it’s very reassuring to know that they get extra peace of mind through this fun and futuristic walk-through.

Secondly, it answers questions that clients hadn’t even thought to ask. Being in the industry for such a long time, it can be easy to take certain things for granted. We’ve learned over the last 15 years that every single homeowner is different, and what one person might think to ask, might not even occur to another.

Simple things, like understanding how high a raised level might be, or the space between two planters, is something a landscaper can easily calculate. Nevertheless, the spatial relationship between garden features can’t always be visualized by those outside the industry, and we’re happy to go the extra mile to ensure our clients are content with every aspect of the final design.

Our clients put an incredible amount of trust in us when allowing us to design their garden, but we love that a virtual reality garden design walkthrough can quickly put to rest even the smallest lingering concerns about spacing, cohabitation of certain features, and even just how the garden is going to look once everything is finished.

What about those of you who are, may we say, old-school?

Paper’s not dead just yet

While we love embracing new technology that enhances the services we offer, we know that some of you just prefer to see your design down on paper. Those of you that fall into that bracket who are thinking of getting your garden designed by FirstLight Landscaping rest assured – we still present paper copies of our initial concept designs, and any revisions throughout the process.

Whatever your preference, you can find out more about our design service and when we’ll next have consultation slots available HERE, and keep an eye on our social media feeds to see our VR service in action very soon!