The Stages of a Landscape Plan

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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

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