Preliminary Consultation

The Designer will schedule an initial visit to meet in person, tour your property and evaluate the scope of work. If we mutually agree that a working relationship would be beneficial and you would like to commission a design, the Designer will draft a design proposal (for your review and comment) based on his understanding of what the project entails, the scope and deliverables, who may assist in the design of the project, other consultant services, the design fee and possible schedule. There is an upfront fee for the initial consult which varies based on the project location and travel involved as well as the scope of work. 

When the design proposal is finalized, you’ll be asked to sign a Planting Design Services Agreement and submit a retainer to start Phase 1 of the Design Process. 

Design Process

The Designer follows a step-by-step Design Process to determine the Client’s goals and objectives; engage collaborators and consultants (if needed), evaluate the existing conditions and determine actions required to meet the goals and objectives; and establish the aesthetic vision for the project. The Design Process details the specific scope of services and work products. 

The Design Process involves four steps. These steps are not linear and may overlap. A comprehensive overview follows, but not all tasks or deliverables outlined below will apply to every project. Some work may fall under the purview of a landscape architect or other professional(s). 

Step 1- Research and Preparation

The objective of this step is to develop a design program and base plan for the Project Area and to identify and engage third-party consultants (if needed). 


Client interview. Define project goals and objectives.

Identify third-party consultants. Interview consultants needed for the project and define their roles, e.g., scope, responsibilities, and schedule of deliverables. Suggest hires. Third-party consultants will contract directly with the Client under a separate proposal.

Meet with third-party consultants (virtually and in-person) as needed throughout all phases of the Design Process to deliver the agreed-upon work products, for example: Architect, landscape architect, horticulturalist, soil scientist, arborist, landscape contractor, landscape steward, and others.

Site inventory. Document existing features and conditions, e.g., soils, topography, water, plants, views, spaces and senses, buildings, utilities, sun and shade patterns, activity areas, circulation routes, neighborhood and codes, maintenance. Conduct field measurements and photograph the site and Project Area. Drone footage may be requested for larger projects. Meet with an arborist on site to identify/evaluate trees, large evergreens and shrubs (if needed). Soil testing (if needed).

Site analysis. Evaluate the site inventory and determine actions to be taken to achieve the desired design solutions.

Develop a design program. This written document will outline the elements needed in the design solutions. It is based on the Client’s requirements and the site analysis.

Create a base plan (a scaled drawing of the Project Area). This bird’s-eye view plan will be the basis for all other drawings. Request a recent property survey from the Client for use in the creation of a base plan. If one does not exist, or if a landscape master plan has been commissioned, the Designer will work with a landscape architect to develop the material request for a property survey and the landscape architect will create a base plan. 

Site Visit

Meet with Client to review the design program and base plan

Work Products

Design Program

Base Plan

Step  2- Concept Development                                                                                                                                

The objective of this step is to develop documents that provide the Client with an understanding of the proposed design solutions for the Project Area. 


Conduct initial plan studies and analysis of options. Time will be spent on-site and in the studio identifying opportunities, contemplating alternate design solutions, and imagining the new garden’s atmosphere. The amount of detail included in the conceptual plan varies. It is informed by a Client’s needs as well as the size of the Project Area.

Review topography with a landscape architect and, if needed, provide relevant feedback for the planting design

Perform sun/shade study (if needed)

Develop conceptual solutions within the Project Area. The landscape architect, if any, will be responsible for overall landscape master planning. The Designer’s role in that process will be to infuse the Project with context-specific and plant-driven atmosphere, aesthetic cohesion, and artistic vision. A landscape-architect-driven conceptual landscape master plan often includes proposed hardscape elements (e.g., driveways, motor courts, retaining walls, stairs, walkways, terraces, patios, decks, fences, garden structures, pools, water features, and art/sculpture) as well as proposed softscape elements (e.g., lawn, open space, gardens, planting beds, trees, large evergreens, and shrubs). If the Client decides that a landscape architect is not necessary, the Designer’s role will focus almost exclusively on proposed softscape elements in the creation of a conceptual planting design. 

Source and compile precedent imagery to communicate the proposed aesthetics to the Client

Material recommendations for hardscape elements (if needed)

Site visit

Meet with Client to review concepts

Work Product

Conceptual planting plan

Step 3- Planting Design                                                                                                                                         

The objective of this step is to develop detailed planting plans within the Project Area. 


Research. Develop project- and site-specific plant palettes and planting schemes. Plant selections will be based on research and observation and the Designer’s general knowledge of plants that can be combined to create the desired atmosphere. Planting schemes generally balance structure with seasonal interest, address bloom succession, and consider the longevity and durability of the plants, but this may vary depending on the Client’s goals. Designer may: consult with a local horticulturist to evaluate the proposed plant palette for suitability and viability in the local environment; visit local and regional gardens, nurseries, natural areas, and areas of significant horticultural interest to aid in developing the plant palette; suggest a trial garden for larger projects with an adequate time horizon for assessment.

Planting Plan. Develop detailed planting plans for the proposed softscape areas defined in Step 2. 

Source and compile images of all plants specified

Site visit

Meet with Client to review planting plans

Work Products

Planting plans and supporting documents

Step 4- Final Plan

The objective of this step is to finalize the vision for the conceptual plan with feedback from the Client.


Based on Client feedback: Step 2 and 3 concepts will be refined into a detailed final conceptual plan; the planting plans will be updated to include drawings and a spreadsheet listing sizes and quantities of the plants required; finalize material recommendation for hardscape elements (if needed)

Meet with Client to review the final planting plans

Work Products

Final planting plan and supporting documents

The final conceptual plan may be adequate to move forward with bidding and construction. The Client will be apprised as the Design Process unfolds if any additional phases are required. More complex projects may require further design development and construction documents. 

Site Visits

Site visits are necessary at reasonable times throughout the Design Process. While site visits are listed in Steps 1-3, the timing of these visits may vary.

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