A Passion for All Things New
Local landscape designer creates thriving business
by Clay Neely
Growing up as the youngest of seven children, Lisa McDonald was often found working outside in the yard alongside her siblings and her father who loved to garden.
At the time, she was less than enthusiastic about it. But, over time, her love for horticulture blossomed.
Once her children were out of school, McDonald went to Gwinnett Tech to get her degree in horticulture with a certification in landscape design. She’s also completed the Master Gardener program.
But before McDonald got her degree, Coweta resident Robert Hancock asked her to help redesign his yard. As a result, McDonald founded Pots & Plans Inc. 11 years ago and things have been going strong ever since.
Her enthusiasm for her profession is contagious and genuine. As she displays the designs she has created for many Newnan residents, she grins as she explains the details of each individual project both past and present.
“This is the busiest we’ve ever been,” McDonald said. “I’m currently working on nine designs, which is unheard of during the summer time. It’s really something else.”
McDonald seems to thrive as a result of the various projects. As an avid reader of catalogs, her love for all things new is shown through incorporating these elements in her designs.
“I love plants and they’re developing new things all the time,” McDonald said. “The Loropetalum, Crimson Fire, which is the new hot one – 18 inches tall and spreads 2 feet so its like a ground cover. Just like Japanese Maples, there are something like 907 varieties.”
McDonald explained her approach to each project. When measuring a house, it will generally take awhile because she does a good amount of thinking – not only about the dimensions and measurements she has to work with, but also the possibilities.
“Once I get home with all of my data, that’s when I ponder,” McDonald said. “I spend my time looking through the lists, so you have all kinds of different plants that are coming up. So many people use their same formula and plants over and over.”
While McDonald peruses her lists, she’ll remember a variety that hasn’t been used in a while or stumbles across a new species that has been propagated to match height and color. “That’s what makes my job so much fun,” McDonald said. “When you’re always looking for new ideas and varieties to utilize, the possibilities are endless. Figuring out what to use and where it goes is a joy.”
While the recent recession wreaked havoc on the construction and greenhouse industry, McDonald’s business survived relatively unscathed. Clients were either looking to her to help redo their homes in order to sell them or deciding to stay put and spruce up what they already had.
As variety is a common theme with landscape design, McDonald also aims to give personalized options to her clients. From overseeing projects from start to finish, she also understands that many clients enjoy landscaping as well but just need a little push in the right direction.
McDonald provides these clients the ability to have a professional master concept and experienced backing without the large initial cost. This allows individuals to take various aspects and do their own landscaping at their leisure knowing the end product will maintain the professional look.
“You always look at the style of the house,” she said. “Do they want a formal design? A casual design? There has to be a flow – a rhyme and a reason for the design, no matter what. If it’s chaotic, it’s not a good feeling. You need a clean sense but you give them a base. It’s the people that add on the bases that make a yard.”
Her work also extends into the commercial sector – staging homes that are on the market along with sprucing up an existing business, her handiwork is on display in places like the Anne Powell Memorial Garden at the Powell Library on Hospital Road along with the Coweta Dentistry billboard along Jackson Street.
While her work speaks for itself, she praises her website as a valuable asset in terms of getting the word out regarding Pots & Plans. But word of mouth has also proven to be a solid bet.
“Norma Haynes is a great advertiser,” laughed McDonald. “I get a lot of fun jobs, and while I’ve done a lot of work for friends, it’s even more exciting to work with people you don’t know yet.”
For McDonald, the last 11 years have flown by but she sees no reason to change her game plan. Her overhead is low, her demand is rising, and she’s passionate about what she does.
“We always aim to go above and beyond for our clients,” McDonald said. “Everything falls into place – the right plantings and the right yard for the right person.”