Preliminary Layers of Landscape Design Plans

Landscape design plans are the foundation to any attractive and functional outdoor design. These plans take into account every single detail of your yard, including the size, the shape, and the terrain, and have all the information needed to create the perfect landscape design according to your specifications.

landscape design plans

There are several types of landscape drawings used in planning. Which ones your outdoor area requires will depend on the various types of features you would like in your yard.

Most landscape designs begin with the Preliminary layers which include a topography plan (plot plan), and most include a concept plan (site plan) as well as a hardscape plan and planting plan. Secondary layers include irrigation, drainage, and lighting plans which are popular and often required.

Below you will find examples of landscape design plans designed for a small project. The scale of this project makes it ideal to illustrate the various layers involved in a landscape plan set and may help generate ideas that you can use on your landscape project.

Helpful Hint: Gather as many ideas as you can through magazine clippings, books and quality downloadable collections before starting your landscape design.


Landscape Plot Plans

Plot plans, or topography charts, are the basis of all other types of design plans. These plans must be drawn to scale and typically require the services of a land surveyor. Your plot plan should include at least the following elements:

  • Property boundaries, as well as fences, walls, roadways, and other existing hardscape features.
  • Water features within the landscape, including ponds, streams, and swimming pools.
  • Structures on the property with details regarding electrical outlets, access to water, and features that could obstruct the outdoor design like air conditioning units and decks.
  • Terrain features of your outdoor area, including slopes and grades, hills, and areas with poor drainage.


Plot plans can be used to develop other types of landscape design plans and can help you decide what changes or additions may be needed to create the ideal design. Trees, shrubs, and plants already growing in your yard can be noted, making it easy to determine which vegetation to keep and which to remove. These plans can also be used to place shade trees, walkways, and to designate specific living areas. Placing these items becomes very easy if using 2d design software.


landscape design plans

Site Plans

The site plan or sometimes referred to as concept plan consist of the preliminary illustrations that bring everything together within your landscape design.

This plan typically are drawn in scale, offer full color or black and white, highly detailed layouts, and may include photographs and specifications of selected plant and hardscape materials.

Your landscape site plan is an essential tool for generating and solidifying ideas. Generally, the plan is a CAD rendering but can also be hand drawn. And because it is drawn to scale it can be used to provide estimates for construction.


Examples of color-rendered plan views.





Elevation Views

The elevation plan gives a front-on view of various structures within the landscape design. These plans can assist in understanding what key landscape features would look like from a 2D perspective. Details associated with the items like garden walls, outdoor fireplaces, pool walls, patio structures and gazebos can be clearly viewed. Here are examples of elevation drawings taken from our landscape design plans.

landscape design plans

View examples of color-rendered elevation views.


Hardscape Plans

Your hardscape plans include the unnatural elements of your outdoor space. Fencing, decks, and outdoor buildings can all be included in these plans, as well as walkways, driveways, and even outdoor kitchens. Hardscape designs include both functional and decorative outdoor features. Retaining walls and patios are common examples. Materials such as brick, stone, concrete, metal
and wood are typically used to construct these outdoor elements.

Your hardscape plans will reflect the overall theme of your landscape design and should be carefully drawn to scale. It is important to add these elements to your master landscape design plans before planning vegetation, water features, and other design options. Color and texture should be an integral part of your hardscape as well.


Planting Plans

landscape design plans

Plants and vegetation are an essential part of an attractive landscape design. The planting plans give detailed information with the specific locations and requirements for all plant materials within your outdoor space, including flower beds, hedges and trees.

Planting designs hold specific information for installation, like both
scientific and common names for the plants within the plan as well as precise characteristics including size, shape, color, and quantity. This information is generally contained within a legend and the plant locations are usually noted with a matching symbol.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • The type of vegetation
    you choose will depend on the amount of sunlight and shade, the soil and climate, and how much time you would like to put into your garden.
  • Use a criteria based plant catalog to help determine what plant material to use in your planting plan.
  • Trees can add a vertical angle to your landscape design plans.
  • Shrubbery can be used for privacy and fencing, while colorful flower beds are wonderful accents.


Learn more about landscape planting plans.


There are many different elements involved in creating complete landscape design plans. Some are essential parts of any outdoor design, like a topography plan and planting design, while others are an added convenience that increases the beauty and value of your estate.

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