Natural Beauty: A Chat with Hedstrom Landscape Architecture

Helmed by Sara Hedstrom Pinnell and Andrew Spatz, Hedstrom Landscape Architecture offers award-winning landscape architectural design and consulting for discerning clients. Though the woman-owned + operated firm is based in Knoxville, Hedstrom is tapped by developers, municipalities, engineers, agencies, and individuals throughout the Southeast + Northeast. 

From public spaces to private escapes, Hedstrom specializes in pre-development planning to construction oversight with a highly personalized approach. And it is this unique personal approach – combined with years of experience and prodigious talent – that delivers lasting, enjoyable, stunning landscapes. 

Recently, we chatted with Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, Founder + President, to discuss Hedstrom’s award-winning approach, specifically how their talented team incorporates a client’s individual appreciation with sustainability to create the lush landscapes for which they are known. It was a delightful conversation that revealed Hedstrom Landscape Architecture ethos: connecting people to their environment.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: Let’s start off by addressing misconceptions in Hedstrom’s industry: what is a landscape architect and how does it differ from other professions in the landscape industry?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: Landscape architects are often compared to landscape designers, who, while having similar training, do not possess all of the qualifications or licenses required to practice landscape architecture. To be a landscape architect requires a degree in Landscape Architecture and a current license. Sometimes landscape architects are compared to landscape contractors, who have a completely different business model. Our work as landscape architects site analysis, site inventory, site planning, land planning, planting design, grading, stormwater management, sustainable design, construction specification, and ensuring that all plans meet the current building codes and local and federal ordinances.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: What should owners consider when selecting a landscape architect?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnel: Homeowners should hire a landscape architect that is not only qualified and experienced, but also carries the appropriate insurance to take on your project. Beyond that, we encourage homeowners to choose a detail-oriented landscape architect they enjoy communicating with because projects can take up to a year – sometimes longer – to complete.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: Can you expand on what detail-orientation looks like in a landscape architect?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: In landscape architecture, being detail-oriented starts with knowing the site – its challenges and opportunities – and understanding the client’s wishes and budget. Creativity can be fulfilled when it is grounded in reality!

The Scout Guide Knoxville: At what stage should homeowners hire a landscape architect for a new build? A renovation?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: Because our work encompasses the area between the property line and the face of the building or buildings, we recommend homeowners bring a landscape architect onto their team as soon as possible. In doing so, the landscape architect can consult on decisions like building site, outdoor amenities, driveways, and other program elements like sustainability.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: What questions should clients come prepared with when vetting a landscape architect?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnel: We always bring questions to our clients! The truth is, we don’t expect each client to know all that needs to be asked so we listen, learn, and prompt with questions that help to guide the design process.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: How does a client’s vision inform Hedstrom’s approach?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnel: Hedstrom projects marry the a client’s lifestyle and unique appreciation for beauty with their site’s context, which includes its history, ecology, culture, and natural features. When we work with corporate and hospitality clients, our work always reflects their particular brand identity.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: Earlier, you mentioned sustainability. Can you speak to how sustainability informs Hedstrom’s design process?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: Sustainability often starts with protection, which can be achieved through a tight building envelope, thus limiting disturbance of the land. Disturbances, like soil compaction and disrupted drainageways, can cause long term damage that is difficult to remedy. Of course, to complement this ground-up approach to sustainability, we like to use local materials and resources and match planting with the environment.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: How do you set clients up for success with their landscapes?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: Long-term success of the landscape informs us from the beginning. Part of our job is to ensure that when the design is finished, the homeowner fully understands it and feels ownership of it. We look at what long term care looks like so that the investment in the landscape grows over time. Beyond that, we also consider what happens below ground because the success you see on the surface starts below. Finally, we try to match the level of design to the capabilities within the local market for maintenance.

The Scout Guide Knoxville: As a landscape architect, what is your hope for your clients?
Sarah Hedstrom Pinnell: To connect them with their environment.

We invite you to learn more about Hedstrom Landscape Architecture, view their beautiful portfolio of work, and inquire about their services for your project at Don’t forget to tell them Scout sent you!