Generally speaking I think its a good idea to have a landscape plan, even for the small projects.
The rare exception might be in the case where you’re contracting with someone who has a long standing reputation of design ability and with a style you like.
For example, two of the landscape companies I work with on my projects often work on their own jobs without detailed plans. These companies have been around for years and have well-respected reputations both for their design style and technical skills.
Typically they will work through a “general concept” and budget with the homeowner beforehand, and then create the specifics as they go.
I have always produced drawings for my projects.
A landscape plan gives myself and the homeowner a clear understanding of the design vision and intent. Also, it provides information to help in budgeting and implementation.
The drawing above is a simple sketch done in a proportional scale. Although you can’t take a “scale” ruler to it for measurements, there is a realistic representation of size and distance from one element to the other.
This type of drawing is quick and economical to produce and is usually all that’s needed for a smaller design.
For larger projects with more detail, including construction, elevation, grading and drainage issues, I’ll always draw a landscape plan precisely to scale. There’s simply no substitute.
Any additional cost related to good scale drawings is easily justified because of the accuracy and efficiency they bring to the project.
And that usually helps control budget and predict a realistic schedule. Afterall, isn’t that what we all want in our home improvement project?
Regardless of the size of the designed project, make plenty of copies of the simple sketch or landscape plan.
You want to be able to give them out to everyone who is involved in the job.
This ensures everybody understands the intended outcome. It also minimizes dreaded remarks such as, “I wasn’t sure what you really wanted, so this is what I did…”.
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Landscapes are complex, and shortcomings anywhere in the process can affect the project… and your peace of mind.
My approach is process-oriented. I break things down from planning to implementation — and make sure everyone is kept informed.
My goal is to alleviate concerns such as design decisions, costs, workmanship and material quality. I want folks to stress less and actually enjoy the process.
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