Pictured is a basic outline of the design process. In reality, some of those bubbles happen all at once, while others are a little more extensive. My design process goes a little something like this:
- The first step is to meet with the client. We discuss what they’re looking for in a new landscape, applicable interests, styles/preferences, and any landscaping challenges or restrictions. Are they avid gardeners, or would they rather have a landscaping company maintain their vast property? Do they have young kids who need space for a swing set or a trampoline or just for running and playing? Maybe their teenagers are really into volleyball, tennis, or soccer and need areas to practice. Do they plan on frequent entertaining for small groups of their closest friends? Or instead, the occasional, large and lively party or event?
- At the first meeting, I collect half the total price upfront and start measuring immediately. Pretty much everything gets measured. The lot, the house, doors, windows, window wells, and utility boxes. Decks, steps, fences, walkways. Existing trees and shrubs. Elevation changes, angles, and views. It’s a bit tedious, but it’s necessary in order to create an accurate, to-scale drawing. It’s really helpful if the homeowner/client has the property plan tracked down for me to use. I also take a lot of pictures of the existing landscape.
- Next, I create a basic to-scale plan of the current site, called the base map. Some lots might be able to handle a 1/8″ = 1′ scale, while others might require something like a 1″ = 10′ scale in order to fit onto the paper.
- Now the fun begins! A mix of creativity and practicality help me develop a design uniquely suited to the client’s needs and vision. I figure out where to put trees and shrubs, alcoves, fire pits, water features, play areas for kids, pergolas and patios, terracing, or whatever else my mind or the clients’ can imagine up! I consider elements such as focal points, sun/shade, privacy, living space, lines, textures & sizes, evergreens vs. deciduous, and visual pathways & views.
- After the base map comes together, I redraw it in pen for the client to review. This is the preliminary design. Along with that, I give them a partial plant list with color pictures of the plants I’ve chosen for their newly designed yard.
- We go over the design together and discuss each aspect of it. I let them mull over things for about a week, and we meet again to discuss any changes they’d like to make. Ultimately, my job is to put on paper the client’s vision so that they or the landscaper can install it. Hopefully I’ve done a good enough job of that with the preliminary design so that I don’t have to start over completely, but there are always some changes to be made. And that’s completely fine and expected. I would never want a client to just say yes to everything and then for years to come, live with aspects of it that they weren’t satisfied with. They’ll be living with it, so I want them to feel completely free to ask questions and make suggestions and changes.
- Based on the client’s changes, I rework the design. We meet at least once more to make sure everything is spot on. Then I create a master plan, which includes a plant list along with a separate picture plant list. If the client is going to do the installation themselves, I give them a layout plan as well – a plan with dimensions and spacing of the hardscapes and some of the plant materials. If they’re going to hire a landscape installation company, I give the landscaper a copy of the master plan.
- After the master plan, I keep in touch with the client and landscaper during the installation of the design to answer questions and make sure the design goes according to plan.