Landscape Design Process


Step One – Understanding Your Goals

To identify needs and goals we’ll provide you with a thorough Landscape Design Client Questionnaire as well as meeting with you to tour the site where we can discuss your needs in person.   We also utilize Houzz Ideabooks to share photos and notes and collaborate with clients.


Step Two – Design Agreement

We will provide a clearly written contract for design services which ensures that we agree on our scope and all costs involved.  We’ll provide you with this contract within 10 days of our initial meeting.


Step Three – Understanding the Site

Through our site inventory and analysis process we’ll gain a thorough understanding of the site and document our findings on a scaled drawing called a base sheet.  We’ll measure, photograph, take soil samples, and shoot grades (if needed).   Some of the items we’ll look at include: architecture, the neighborhood, grades /topography, defacto property lines, views, existing hardscapes and vegetation, soils, etc.  


Step Four - Preliminary Design

Once we understand your goals and have a good understanding of the site we can begin our Preliminary Design Process.

We’ll begin with a functional analysis of how each element of the landscape fits together before getting too focused on details.  We group complementary elements and carefully consider how the site will be used. We work loosely, with big, bold form to investigate how these elements fit the site. This process ensures that the design of the landscape does not compromise its function.

Once we have one or more viable options for how design elements fit together, we work towards placing these elements onto the site.  We’re always working on several layers of trace paper so we can see a great amount of information to inform the design.  Our base sheet has the exact location of each existing element.  Our site analysis sheet graphically reminds us of other important considerations like views to preserve or screen, steeper slopes, etc..  A top sheet allows us to explore a multitude of options - teasing lines, attempting to find form rather than simply a jumble of loosely related parts.  This is the most challenging, fun, and rewarding portion of the design process. Using inspiration from the site and architecture as well as frequently reviewing your completed client questionnaire for input is critical to create a thoughtful design.  We often contact a client throughout this process to gather input on various ideas.  Following this time-tested process helps to ensure we are not forgetting critical information that will haunt the design later.  We’ll work with two or more options to provide you with choices.


Step Five - Client Review – Review Options and Provide Input

Once we have created two or more options for your landscape we will meet to discuss the preliminary designs.  This allows clients to provide input before we have invested too much time in finalizing a plan.  We can answer questions, review and revise your design program, and often uncover that some of a client’s goals may change once they see them brought to life on paper.  This is fine, it is part of the process.

At our meeting, we work with clients to understand how each option will function.  Some people have a hard time envisioning what a plan drawn from above will look like once installed, so if desired, we can create some quick sketches to help clarify what the design will look like.  We can even define shapes/spaces in the landscape to really show how spaces will fit together.  At the conclusion of our meeting we hope to have clear guidance on which aspects of our preliminary designs are preferred, any necessary changes, and etc. so we can refine the plans for you.


Step Six - Design Finalization

With input from our client meeting we are able to finalize plans.  We'll define exact shapes, specify materials, create detail drawings if necessary, decide on exact plant species, etc.  Based on this design we can also create an accurate cost estimate which we’ll share with you.


Step Seven - Installation Planning

Upon finalizing your design, we’ll meet again to review final details and discuss how to go about installing the project. Some projects are installed all at once, but others may be installed in phases to better match your budget or time frame.  We can strategize so you get the most value out of each phase if you choose to go that route.


Interested in creating a landscape design yourself?  Check out this helpful guide.