The Stages of a Landscape Plan

wci-chop-2.jpgThere is a great commentary string(prompted by detailed specifics) on a post by the County Clerk, the post is

A Plan Coalesces:

Hank is giving us the blow-by-blow on his dealings with his property, his landscape, and now his hiring of an LA to come up with a plan, and it’s turned into a fascinating discussion on the design process.

The Clerk hired an LA to do some plans(so far I’ve only seen a conceptual) and it appears she has been moving slow to get drawings done. She should have been able to read that this was a guy on a mission-highly motivated.

If you are a professional designer I highly suggest you follow this story. Hank has a good following of very rabid “Gardeners” some very talented folks, and there thought process is some good insight on how passionate gardeners look/see/relate/don’t like the professional design process that some designers employ.

This is my last comment(I’ve already made 2 on the string) about why none of the plants were labeled on a conceptual drawing. Keep in mind here I do not know who the LA is, I’m guessing based on how my design process works.

I’ll defend the architect for a moment. What she gave Hank was a conceptual drawing, and there are/were many things to work out before getting to specifics.

I show clients LOTS of conceptuals and never have anything ‘labelled’. Why put the work in, if changes are/need to be made.

The conceptual drawing should be about the big picture and how elements fit together, how spaces work and then-how those space fit together.

To tell the truth ‘early labelling’, and specifics “stifle” the creative process.

This is actually “a real Problem” dealing with “Gardeners” . . . they want to talk plants before the dimensions of the driveway are determined-makes absolutely no sense from a design standpoint.

nail down the hardscape; utilities, drive, walks, fences, pools/ponds, structures, etc. “Then” move on to bed size/lines/shapes. then determine tree placement-> large shrubs -> small shrubs/perennials/annuals.

A quick reference on how ‘my’ design process works, I always like to say to clients and students:

Think Big to Small . . . . Big -> Small, . . . Big -> Small . . . yes it’s simplified, but it works!

The comment came about because I was directly answering another commenter in the thread, it’s Craig who has a great Blog called Ellis Hollow. The back and forth/suggestions makes great reading. Hank just posted another entry; The Big Plan(ver 1), and this post(I’m sure) will generate a long comment stream.


Addendum: Here again we are dealing with the steps in the design process. I can’t seem to get past why this process isn’t explained better/implemented better, in a nutshell:

  • Interview the client, the bigger the project the more thorough the interview, and if it’s bigger than that, more time is spent developing a relationship with the client(s)
  • Look at the site, pay attention to what’s here/what’s not here. How can the site be best served? Can the client’s request be realistically met on this site?
  • Use your experience(the designer) to meld together the site and the client. If it’s not possible learn to say no. If you have more questions-ask.
  • Listen, listen, listen . . . to the client, to the site, to your experience.
  • Draw conceptuals-I prefer renderings-2 dimensional, perspective, and/or axonometric . . . clients cannot read plan view drawings, conceptuals, hardscape details, master plans . . . Clients cannot look at tiny circles and straight lines . . . and see pergola’s, fences, walls, waterfalls, grade changes, steps, etc., etc., etc., they cannot-get used to it.
  • The conceptuals are a starting point
  • The conceptuals are a starting point to talk about how spaces relate, how elements relate, how people relate.
  • The conceptuals are a starting point . . . to . . . more conceptuals in bigger projects, and more conceptuals in even bigger projects.
  • The larger the project, the more complicated the design process.
  • Conceptuals usually lead to hardscape plans, planting plans, and/or master plans. this depends on the designer, the design/build company . . . the design fee. The path from the conceptual plans can go many directions.
  • There are no conceptuals when the designer is not very good, the plan is small, the plan is simple, the plan is free . . . you get what you pay for.
  • Most design/build companies discourage/ignore/hate/poo-poo/blow-off/are ignorant to/disclaim conceptuals . . . How do I know this? Around 35 years of dealing/hanging/spending time/working with/working for Design/Build Companies. I can safely say that for the VAST majority of design/builds it’s about the build . . . it’s how they make their money. No fault in that, it’s just that is the way it is.
  • Do design/build companies have talented designers? . . . sure, sometimes. If it’s a designer on staff(stretched thin in the Spring), or the owner . . . who is stretched to the ‘breaking point’ each and every Spring. There are those design/builds out there who understand and follow through the process.
  • Back to conceptuals-the point is to determine where the ‘big stuff’ goes. Then the ‘medium stuff’. From here the plan goes into more specifics-and is most likely drawn in plan view.
  • Plan view, where numbers, sizes, square foot(ages), lengths, are determined-and estimated. These Plan View drawings should always be to scale, always.
  • In more complicated plan views-lots of bulbs, perennials, hardscape details find their way to separate drawings-depending on time, budget, philosophy, company procedure, etc.
  • There are always, and I mean always . . . on-site adjustments. It’s the final part of the design process. A good designer allows for these; not only allows for these-but expects them to happen.

A Rick Anderson conceptual:

A more refined conceptual for presentation:

Color rendering for landscape

One more time:

Entry Rendering-Steps

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.

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