What is the Design Process?

The service I offer is completely bespoke; I do as much or as little as you like, so each job is different. However, as a guide, the progression through a full garden design is detailed here. Your project may not need all these stages.

The stages are described in more detail below.

Stage 1 – Feasibility

This stage analyses the site and your requirements and evolves a detailed brief for the design taking in to account the constraints of the site and the available budget.

Initial Visit Back to top


Every job is different but all work starts with an initial visit. This first meeting lasts no more than 2 hours, and gives you a chance to get to know me and how I work. During the meeting I make a brief assessment of the site, you tell me what you hope to achieve, and we work through a short questionnaire to give me enough information to quote for the design work. Following the meeting I send you a copy of the outline brief along with a fee proposal for the first stages of the design work.

It is important at this stage to establish your budget. Many clients are unfamiliar with the costs of landscaping and so are hesitant about committing themselves but it is an important constraint so at least a ballpark figure must be agreed before design work starts.

Survey & Site Analysis Back to top


An accurate survey of the garden is needed before any design work can take place. The survey measures the position of the property, boundaries, other existing features and utilities visible on site, and ground levels. It ensures that the new design fits the site and is an important pre-requisite if costly and time-consuming rework is to be avoided. If you have an existing survey I may be able to use it, if not, I will normally measure the garden myself. If you have a particularly large garden or one with complicated levels I may recommend you commission a survey from a professional surveyor.

I also conduct an analysis of the site, including taking soil samples for pH testing, noting site orientation and local conditions, and taking reference photographs. Together with the survey these measurements and observations enable me to draw up an accurate plan of the current garden which I use in developing the new design.

Development of the Detailed Brief Back to top


When the results of the survey and site analysis are complete we meet to discuss the garden in detail. This consultation is a thorough and detailed discussion of the site and your aspirations for the garden. Potential design solutions and style options are discussed. The aim is to establish a detailed brief for the design of the garden based on your needs and the constraints and attributes of the site. Anything that illustrates your design and planting likes and dislikes is invaluable, so I ask you to bring along any images or anything else you have that might help convey your requirements.

Following the consultation I summarise my understanding of your requirements in a written brief and send this to you for your approval.

Stage 2 – Development of the Garden Layout

This stage develops the design in sufficient detail to enable you to agree the layout of the garden and its general appearance.

Development of the Concept Plan Back to top


Once the detailed brief is approved I prepare initial drawings. These comprise plans and sketches that describe the proposed design and suggest materials to be used and general planting information. They do not always show all the detailing, but act as a discussion document allowing me to present my ideas, discuss areas of uncertainty, and talk through any changes you may wish to make. Minor changes can be made, but major modifications that reflect changes to the requirements may incur a rework charge or result in a revised fee proposal being submitted.

At this stage I advise on the need for other consultants’ services, specialist contractors or suppliers, and any planning or other permissions that may be required.

Once any amendments or modifications to the draft have been agreed I finalise the concept plan. This is a scale plan showing the position of all the structural elements in the garden (e.g. paving, walls, steps, trees and hedges). Planting areas are also shown with planting identified by type (e.g. herb garden, shrub border). 

3D Visuals Back to top


3D visuals can be provided and are strongly recommended for anything other than the most straightforward designs.

Stage 3 – Development of the Detailed Design

This stage develops the design in sufficient detail to obtain your approval of the proposed materials, techniques and standards of workmanship. Any necessary permissions are obtained, quotations are sought for the construction, and a contractor is engaged to build the garden.

Hard Landscaping Plans Back to top


Materials and detailing are finalised and I prepare the hard landscaping plans. These plans include precise dimensions, levels and details necessary to fully explain the design and construction methods to the contractor. Depending on the complexity of the design they may include some or all of:

  • Dimensioned plans to facilitate accurate translation of the design to the ground.
  • Construction drawings for steps, walls, pergolas, ponds and other bespoke items.
  • Site sections showing level changes.
  • Lighting, electrical, drainage, etc. layout plans.
  • A written specification.

This document set is particularly important if the build is put out to tender as it enables quotes to be compared on a like-for-like basis by ensuring each contractor quotes for the same quality of materials and standard of work, and includes all elements of the garden in their price.

Planting Plans Back to top


I prepare a colour mood board illustrating the key plants selected for your new border(s). This selection takes in to account soil type, aspect and situation. Any preferences you have expressed will be accommodated providing that the conditions are favourable. I arrange a visit to present the mood board and discuss any changes you may wish to make.

Once any amendments have been agreed I prepare the planting plan. The scale plan shows the location and spacing of all the plants in the design with plants identified botanically (e.g. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’). An accompanying schedule summarises the new plants required, listing the plant names, sizes and quantities and is used for costing and ordering the plants.

Apply for Permissions Back to top


I apply for any permissions that are necessary (e.g. tree works, planning permission, dropped kerb applications, party wall consents) and act as your agent in dealings with the relevant authorities.

Engaging a Contractor Back to top


We agree which firm(s) will be invited to quote and I prepare the tender documentation and send it to each firm along with copies of all the plans and drawings. You are free to use a contractor of your choice. If you do not have a firm in mind I am able to recommend an excellent local landscaper. Alternatively, the build can be put out to competitive tender with a number of firms invited to quote. I always remain completely independent of the contractor so I can represent you without any conflict of interest.

I conduct accompanied visits to site to discuss details of the design and resolve any issues. Once the tender deadline has passed I resolve any discrepancies between tenders, and prepare a report of tenders submitted for you to consider.

Once a contractor has been selected I assist with completion of the contract documentation.

Stage 4 – Construction

During this stage everything needed for your garden is sourced and the garden is built.

Project Monitoring Back to top


The contract for the construction of your garden is made directly between you and the contractor but I act as your agent in dealings with him and regularly inspect the construction to ensure the garden is built as designed. The number of inspection visits is agreed once the contractor has been appointed.

As part of this service I can check invoices and issue completion certificates. I am also available to address any issues that arise during construction.

I remain independent of the contractor at all times. I do not supervise or manage the work, which remains the responsibility of the contractor.

Supply of Plants and Other Goods Back to top


Your contractor will usually supply the hard landscaping materials. I can source specialist items such as plants, furniture, pots and other garden accessories. Plant sourcing may need to be staged to allow for correct planting seasons.

Stage 5 – Aftercare

At practical completion the garden is handed over to you and future care becomes your responsibility. This stage ensures you have all the information you need to manage your garden as it develops.

Maintenance Schedule Back to top


If a planting plan is commissioned I prepare an online maintenance schedule. This provides you with information on each of the plants used in the garden with the ability to add personal notes to individual plants. The information includes each plant’s maintenance requirements, with access to ‘How-to’s’ explaining how each task should be performed. Each month you receive an e-mail notification to remind you which tasks are due and which plants are affected.

Alternatively, I can provide a paper Plant Information Pack. This illustrates each new plant in the garden with a colour picture and description, and basic maintenance requirements.

Revisits Back to top


If I source the plants I return periodically through the following 12 months to check on the garden and address any concerns you may have about how it is developing.

Next question