Every great plan begins with just an idea. Maybe it’s a concept of an outdoor entertainment space, complete with fireplace and bar top, or a plan to arrange landscape plantings to complement the style of your home. However, it’s the next steps that are so important in transforming this idea into a reality. Site evaluations, conceptual drawings, and final site plans/3D imagery all compose the path leading to your ultimate “staycation.” Before jumping into this process, the undoubtedly most crucial aspect is determining a BUDGET. This mystical number will help guide the direction of the plans and how they are composed.
This initial step highlights any limiting factors present on your property to be considered in the plan. Drainage (water flow) should be evaluated not to introduce any landscape/hardscape features that could impede flow or redirect water in an unapproved fashion. Sun exposure will dictate if a roof or pergola structure may be a nice addition to beat the heat or simply the variety of plants that will thrive. Town building/zoning codes need to be researched to be aware of what is allowable within your municipality. Most towns have lot coverage and setback codes which may limit the extent of your project. Conduct a soil analysis to determine if there is a high clay or sand content present. The soil will directly affect how certain hardscape features are constructed (footing depth, base material, etc.) and the type of plant material utilized. Spend some time studying the dynamics of your property to lead you in the right direction.
Exterior landscape/hardscape design is a very fluid, ever-evolving process that should not be rushed. Take your time and allow the spaces to be sketched out so that all “wish list” elements be accounted for and located. This planning will help in deciding spatially what can be incorporated and what can’t. This step helps examine the possibilities. An old-fashioned #2 pencil with a fat eraser, in conjunction with trace paper, is a great way to create overlays and optional features. This stage is the time to be creative, so if one idea doesn’t work, erase it or sketch over and try again.
Final Site Plan/3D Imagery
This last step is typically reserved for certified/degreed landscape architects and accredited landscape designers; however, computer programs are available if you feel up to the task. A home survey is a valuable document you most likely already have to develop the base map of existing structures. The survey is a scaled drawing that is either enlarged by hand drafting or importing into a computer program. The conceptual images are now drawn in at the exact dimensions of the proposed project. This is the plan which will be used for construction, so precision is key. All structures, hard surfaces, bed lines, plant material, etc., should be included in these plans. For those who have trouble envisioning overhead site plans, 3D imagery is available to create a realistic representation of the project’s appearance before a shovel is put into the ground. Specific vantage points can be manipulated and viewed through these images.
The comprehensive landscape/hardscape design process is the necessary starting point to elaborate on that “million-dollar” (or maybe just a few thousand) ideas and provides piece of mind in your investment. So, when you see those accreditations and abbreviations listed next to a designer’s name, know they come with the value and the ability to help professionally. So now that your design is complete, it’s time to start planning the best feature…. how you’re going to relax and enjoy your newfound outdoor space once construction is complete!
Need help planning your next landscape project. Our experienced, accredited team can help. Call us to schedule a consultation at (856) 753.1944.