Tuesday, June 17, 2008


A landscape design if done correctly should follow the following steps.....

note: this does not include meeting(s) with clients.

site analysis
  • Which way is north?
  • Which areas get the most sun/shade?
  • What is the soil condition like?
  • Are there any materials that are to remain (protect in place) and if so what are they?
  • Is there an irrigation system and if so is it functioning correctly?
  • Is there existing lighting?
  • General analysis of the site in relation to the neighbors and neighborhood.
  • Understand agency guidelines - HOA guidelines and/or city guidelines. These agencies may have specific guidelines on materials that you can/cannot use and other design restrictions.

site measurements & photography

  • Thoroughly and accurately measure the site by first having a point of beginning, which generally is a corner of the architecture. From that point you can measure the house and existing landscape elements such as walkways, pilasters, header boards etc.
  • Take many photos of the site from up close and far away. Enough so that you can easily revisit the site just by the photos.

creating a digital or hand drawn site plan

  • There are two ways of transposing your measurements into a site plan. Hand drawn & digital (the best digital drafting program is AutoCAD). If you are drawing by hand make sure that you have all of the proper tools (ex. drafting paper, scale, triangles etc.)Regardless of how you draw your plans, be sure that your measurements are accurate otherwise your site plan will not be correct thus causing problems during designing and eventually installation.
going to a nursery to look at plants and going to a building materials place to look at paving materials
  • This is where your designer will show you what materials that he or she is proposing for your garden.
  • Your designer will already know from past experience where the materials are located, how much they will cost and what is best for your type of garden.

creating a conceptual landscape plan (color or b&w) with an image board and support graphics

  • This is a basic drawing that shows a concept for the site. This concept may be a series of circles or actual symbols to denote the plant material or maybe just bubbles. The hardscape elements may be roughly shown or drawn to actual scale. This drawing could be in color or black and white. This is not a drawing that you could give to a contractor to build from. It is merely a concept.
  • Prepare an image board (any size) showing hardscape and planting materials to be used. Sometimes you need to see the material in 3d to get a better sense of what it is.
  • You can also prepare sections and perspectives to show a 3d view of your proposed concept.

sheet setup - what type of sheets will you have (usually 3 or more of the following)?

  • Cover sheet
  • Demolition plan
  • Grading & drainage plan
  • Grading & drainage details
  • Hardscape plan
  • Hardscape details
  • Irrigation plan
  • Irrigation details
  • Planting plan
  • Planting details
  • Lighting plan
  • Lighting details
  • Specifications
  • Each of the above listed plans should have it's own sheet, be on either 24x36 or 30x42 sheet size depending on what will fit best, be drawn to scale (usually for residential projects designers will use 1/8" or 1/4" scale), show where north is, have all appropriate legends, notes & callouts, have the site plan clearly on each sheet and have contact information regarding the designer, client and site address.


  • Once you have setup your base sheets then you can move onto designing.
  • Whatever you design make sure that it is not cookie cutter, functions well, meets the needs and budget of the client, takes into account your site analysis results and is earth friendly. So many times I have seen designs that use the same old plants over and over, which in most cases is not even a water saving plant or California friendly. Use common sense when you design. Better yet hire a professional landscape designer who not only understands what a design entails but in all cases will get the job done more quickly and efficiently.
jurisdiction submittal
  • You may (50/50) need to submit your drawings to the following jurisdictions - HOA or the city in which you live. If you have to submit then you may receive comments from either agency, which may require changes to the drawings.

plant placement and site visits

  • Don't just assume that the contractor will install your design "per plan". You have to make periodical visits to the job site to ensure that your design is being installed correctly. When the plant material arrives you have to be there on site to spot each plant. In some cases you may tweak your design in the field.
Designing a small sized yard will take a professional landscape designer 30-40 hours to do accurately. It will take the average homeowner 70-80 hours to do. That is 80 hours of money that you will end up spending out of pocket OR you can just only pay for 40 hours of work by simply hiring a professional landscape designer.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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