Nothing communicates more universally than images.  If I could not speak someone’s language and needed to communicate with them, I’d grab a pencil and paper and start drawing.  So why don’t more contractors use simple sketches to plan and present work?

I’m Talking Simple

We all know there should be detailed landscape plans for major projects, but I’m talking about those times when a plan may not be absolutely necessary….but it sure would help.

Look, you don’t have to wear a beret & smock to get a plan on paper.  And don’t worry about drawing “to scale” – it’s not necessary.  An 8.5 X 11″ unlined piece of paper and you’re good to go.

Click to enlarge

To the right is a simple plan I did to illustrate a solution for roof water soaking the foundation area of this house.

Why even draw a landscape plan?  Why not just take a few notes and measurements?

A Landscape Plan Helps Contractors and Homeowners Alike

When you sketch out your planned solution, you naturally think things through more thoroughly.  You instinctively go through the anticipated job phases and show them on the drawing as they would occur.  It’s like a “dry-run,” verifying (to yourself) that your proposed solution will fit together and work.

No doubt you’ll measure, check that grades & pitch will “cooperate” and look for sprinklers and other potential obstacles.  This plan & sketch process gives you a true sense of the materials and labor needed to complete the job.  Now you can confidently estimate the work.

The homeowner will appreciate the sketch.  It really helps them visualize your ideas and solution.  Your drawing demonstrates that you’ve thought this thing through.  The homeowner can see that your estimate corresponds with the sketch.

A Landscape Plan Ensures Everybody Is On The Same Page

As a project manager, if there’s one fundamental goal to strive for it’s “make sure everybody is on the same page,” and nothing helps to do that better than a sketch or plan.

  • A simple plan gives the contractor, a foreman and/or the crew a visual reference.  We’ve all seen how sometimes the verbal message gets misunderstood.
  • A simple plan provides a reliable reference for the materials, tools and equipment needed for the job.  For any job, especially the smaller ones, not bringing the right materials & equipment can kill productivity (and morale).
  • A simple plan can have site-specific and ‘as-built’ notes that can be filed for future reference.  Did you ever go back to a job and wish you could remember exactly where that underground pipe is or where the crew installed the sleeve under the patio?

The short time it takes to prepare a simple landscape plan can pay huge dividends.  Efficiency and productivity are things we all want.

Oh, and one last point.  A simple plan can be copied to give out to those “with a need to know”.  The simple sketch pictured above I scanned as a PDF file and emailed to the homeowner.  Everyone benefits in numerous ways by using better methods of communication, like a “simple plan”.

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