Landscape Planning | Part 3: The Design Process

by Rama Nayeri

in Landscape Design

green modular flow chart of a landscape design process

Let’s assume by now that you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of my landscape planning series and have selected a designer that you would like to work with and are prepared to sign the designer’s contract and pay a deposit. Then what happens?

The design process will guide you in understanding how your landscape designer will proceed. If you are going to DIY the process then this should guide you on your journey. To the right is a landscape design flow chart that will give you an idea of the process, but bear in mind that each designer may do things a bit differently.

Site analysis, measuring the site and creating a site plan:

  1. The landscape designer will analyze your site and take notes of what your current site conditions are. Which areas get more sun or shade etc.?
  2. If you do not have a site plan of your property then the landscape designer will measure the site and create a site plan of your home.
  3. The landscape designer will check with your city and/or builder to ensure that there is not site plan prior to measuring.
  4. Photographs will be taken so that if the landscape designer needs to revisit your site he/she can do so virtually.


two alternate landscape concept plansConcept plan meeting:

  1. Your landscape designer should create two concept plans that will give you ideas of what is possible for your landscape. This is the time that you get to voice your thoughts and choose a concept that you feel will work best for your garden (taking into considerations the designer’s overall vision of your garden).
  2. Your landscape designer will also have sheets or moodboardsof proposed materials.
    • Permeable hard surfaces are best as they help reduce water runoff.
    • Native plants to your area will require less water and maintenance and often perform better than their non native counter parts.
  3. Your landscape designer may (if necessary) take you to a nursery and a building materials site to show you the proposed materials. This is the time where you get to look at what the materials look like. What do the plants smell like and do you like that scent?

Note: The images above are  examples of two concept plans that I created for a client as part of their basic landscape planning. The top one shows a formal walkway and the bottom one shows an informal walkway.


Final design:

  1. After the concept design has been approved and the materials have been selected then your landscape designer will create detailed drawings that a landscape contractor can bid from.
  2. One or more of these drawings will be needed.
    • Hardscape plan: showing the hard surface elements that are going remain/be added. This drawing should also include a legend indicating what specific materials are proposed.
    • Planting plan: showing the plant materials that are going to remain/be added. This drawing should include a legend detailing the full botanical name of the proposed plants along with the proposed size and quantity.
    • Irrigation plan: if you have an existing irrigation system then the contractor can retrofit the system if needed. If there is no system then the landscape designer may do a rough design to show how the system will be installed.
    • Lighting plan: showing were the proposed lights will be. Quantity of lights and types of fixtures will be accurately located.


Install supervision:

[pullquote]Having your landscape designer involved throughout the entire process will make for a much easier installation.[/pullquote]Your landscape designer will have a network of contractors that he or she can refer you to. Typically you will get one bid and if you decide that you would like an alternate bid then they should get you a second contractor to bid the design. If you already have a contractor that you would like to work with then your landscape designer should be more than accommodating to work with this person.

Your landscape designer should meet with the contractor to ensure that the design intent is understood. They should take you to purchase various materials such as a pottery, water features, rocks and other outdoor decor that will add pop and texture to your garden. They should place the plants to ensure that they are installed in the right location.

Having your landscape designer involved throughout the entire process will make for a much easier installation. Should any issues arise, your landscape designer and your licensed landscape contractor will most likely get it taken care of. In the end you will have a garden that was designed professionally and installed accurately thus saving you time and money.

In the final Part 4 of my landscape planning series we’re going to discuss the all important topic of what to do after the landscape process. Stay tuned!


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