The design process has the following key steps: program planning, site analysis, design, and installation. These steps overlap and there may be several iterations within each step to reach a successful conclusion.
Program. This phase is where we discuss what you want from your landscape, who uses it, and how it is used. I summarize the information from our conversations for you to review, amend as needed, and accept. The program, along with site conditions, budget, and your personal preferences will control the design. The initially agreed upon program can, and often is, amended as design discussion may open new program potential.
Site Analysis. I will take measurements and photos of your landscape, record significant features, and access external images, data, and maps to develop a representation of your landscape. This is usually a set of informal documents, some of which may be hand or computer drawn. Because they are informal, I do not typically provide them to clients. If you want site analysis material, please ask.
Design. I will develop a set of scale drawings that you or your landscape contractor can implement. These drawing will show where elements are placed in the landscape, including surface materials, paths, retaining walls, steps, structures, special features, and plants. Typically, there will be two drawings: ground organization and a planting plan. I will also provide you with a planting document that lists the plants, quantities, and recommended sizes. Depending on the project and your interests, I may provide other drawings. I will also suggest materials and may provide quantities for some materials upon request. Typically, it takes three iterations to arrive at a final design.
Installation. I do not install landscape elements including plant material, paving, retaining walls, irrigation, and other features. And, because of conditions in the industry, I do not recommend contractors. I do, however, very much want to assist you and your landscape contractor to successfully implement the final design. I would like to be on site to review the plan with you and the contractor, answer any questions, and suggest ways to revise the plan to fit the inevitable unexpected field conditions.
All gardens require maintenance, even “low maintenance” gardens. While I will select plants that fit your time and self-declared skill level, please be aware that plants require attention at least annually. In some cases, this might be simply a visual inspection while in other cases it might be a few minutes of pruning. Perennials may need to be divided after a few years. Plants that serve critical design functions such as hedges and screens, or specimens may require more attention. Please ask if you would like me to write a maintenance plan for your landscape. My hourly rate applies.
I recommend my clients install a drip irrigation system, even if you chose plants that are tolerant of our summer dry climate. This is especially true now that we are feeling the effects of climate change. The downside is that irrigation systems add to the project cost, need annual maintenance, and require updating the number, type, and placement of emitters to respond to plant growth and change.
Irrigation plans need to be customized to water pressure and emitter type, which in turn is based on plant material, maturity, and location. I can provide a preliminary irrigation schematic if you choose, but it will need to be modified at instillation by a qualified irrigation technician, and then revised in the spring every few years until the garden reaches maturity (and the gardener stops moving plants around).