Written by Sean Pritchard, founder of the studio.
Every garden and landscape design project is different and presents unique opportunities and challenges. That is why there can never be an off-the-shelf solution to professional garden and landscape design. Every project deserves its own time and dedication to achieve a scheme that works for the client, maximises the space available, and sits in harmony with the wider landscape.
However, it can be helpful for people who are considering employing a garden designer to understand, broadly, how the design process works.
It is crucially important that, as the designer, I understand a little about you and your garden. We will meet, preferably in person, to discuss what your garden means to you and how you intend to use it into the future. We will discuss the things that inspire you, gardens that you admire, planting that appeals to you, and the features that, at this stage, you would like your garden to include. This meeting also gives you, as the client, an opportunity to get to know me better and understand in more detail how I work. Assuming we have met at your property, this will also give me an opportunity to have an initial look at your garden space and take reference photographs. At this stage, it is important that the client considers the budget they have available for the garden – from design to build completion – as this will influence the scale and scope of the overall design.
Following our initial meeting, and before for any design work can commence, a detailed survey of the garden space is required. This is often undertaken by a professional third-party surveyor, who can capture in precise detail not only the dimensions of the space, but also any level changes. The surveyor will also plot any existing features or structures in the garden, including existing trees, shrubs, and outbuildings.
Combining the information collected from the client at the initial meeting, together with the information presented in the survey, I can begin to pull together concept ideas for the client’s new garden. This is a very creative stage of the process, with numerous ideas explored and lots of reference material consulted. A concept is worked up into a presentation that is then shared with the client. This presentation will include inspiration images, initial plant recommendations, and an idea of proposed hard landscaping.
Following feedback from the concept design and assuming the client is happy to proceed in the direction proposed, a very detailed Outline Plan is produced, to scale, to illustrate the finalised scheme. This document is highly considered and includes information relevant to taking the design forward to the build stage. All features are labelled, level changes are indicated, structural planting is displayed, and all hard landscaping components are referenced. Despite being technical, this document is also often highly decorative, in full colour, giving a visual cue to the intended final finish.
The Planting Plan is another highly detailed document. This document overlays all soft landscaping onto the Outline Plan. It labels all plants used within the scheme, their positions, and quantities. The Planting Plan is accompanied by a Plant List that shows all plants used in the design in a more simplified form.
At this stage there are a number of documents and illustrations that are produced in order to get the scheme ready for build. These include:
- Setting out document. This document shows all measurements and dimensions in the design.
- Construction drawings. These illustrations show the intended construction methods that will be used for key hard landscaping components in the scheme. These include walls, steps, and any water features.
- Scope of works. This document outlines in detail the works that are necessary to be carried in order to build the garden to the specification that I, as the designer, have laid out.
ONGOING PROJECT MANAGEMENT OF BUILD
As the build of the garden is undertaken, some clients find comfort in retaining a relationship with me, as the designer, in a role overseeing the progress of construction. My role and level of involvement here varies dramatically from project to project and is therefore discussed and agreed on an individual basis.
Each project is discussed on its own merit and there may be no need for one or more of these steps in some cases. Likewise, it may be necessary to build in further steps if the site is particularly complicated. The studio can advise on the process in more detail and agree all steps before any design work is undertaken.