Why do you think they call it landscape architecture? It’s no different than any other home construction or improvement project. It begins with an idea and a budget. Then you consult the experts- architects, contractors and designers to develop the plan and design. And, of course, there’s always a set of permits and approvals to be obtained.

In addition to the architectural and design aspects, landscaping also requires a working knowledge of soils, mulches, lawns, woodworking, stone work, mortar use, concrete and asphalt, water, drainage, night lighting, irrigation, not to mention the mathematics required to calculate any of the preceding. The plans required for your landscaping project must be every bit as detailed and accurate as any other construction project. Do you know the height of the pergola and the thickness of its beams? Pressure-treated or Cedar? Color? Do you know the size of the patio? What about your paver style and color? Got a permit for those walls? You need a well thought out set of plans approved by all, before beginning any landscape project.

Generally, all landscape projects require some sort of drawings. Once you find a firm with which you are comfortable, their staff will come up with scaled drawings based on your budget, the houses feel or aesthetics, and your wishes/dreams. The design offers a bird’s eye view of the placement of features and plantings. A work crew will read and interpret these scaled plans as they discover placement. Firms that don’t charge you for this will likely hide this cost somewhere in the estimating process, but the best landscape firms charge you for this creative effort and are aware of just how important the design is in the process. As an example, Outdoor Design Build will credit 100% of the design fees should the client contract with them. They view the design phase as a work of creative art, a creativity that not everyone possesses. The plan is much more than a work of art however, in that the mathematical and geometrical precision is crucial to the implementation of the plan.

Pointers:

•Determine your budget keeping in mind that what seems like the best price isn’t necessarily the best quality. In order to afford top quality, you may want to consider doing things in phases.
•From the initial call through design phase to installation, the process can take months. Keep this in mind when you plan your next project
•Find a reputable designer/architect. Ask around. Pick two or three.
•Meet. First meetings cost nothing but give you a chance to size up the representative and look over their portfolio. Take your time here, as you don’t want to work with someone whom you don’t feel at ease with.
•Commit to the design phase, for mentioned costs.
•Review and adjust finished plans. Once adjustments and final renderings are available, the numbers for the project are exposed to all.
•Become as familiar as you can with pieces of the project, go online or the library; or purchase books to help you understand what is being constructed.