Houzz Logo Print

Landscape Design Forum FAQ - Improved

16 years ago

I apologize about the previous FAQ's strange formatting. I have manually fixed that problem to make this 'compost'

more readable.

We hope the following FAQ will help new visitors in getting the assistance they so richly deserve.

Please feel free to add your own observations to the "official" FAQ provided here.

Why dont people respond to my posts?

There could be several reasons why people do not respond to your posts, but the most likely one is that you are

probably not using correct Landscape Design language. For instance, unlike other forums, we do not "post" a

reply here, we "compost." In the same vein, witticisms here are not "humorous," they are "humus." Please

consult the Landscape Design forum glossary for more information.

Another reason people may not be responding to your posts erhm composts is that they may be too vague.

Please note that this is a Landscape Design forum, not a Landscape DIY forum. If you write in asking our long-

suffering denizens to landscape your front yard for you, without any sign of effort or forethought on your part,

they will not find this humus. They will ignore you and think you are a cadÂ. or not. It depends on who

answers your post first. To avoid this fate, a) post only on the full moon when all but our most tolerant members

are out enjoying a bacchanal or b) do some research, apply some thought, and ask more focused questions.

I do not see vegetarian options here. What is up with that?

At one time, we did have a vegetarian section. However, several members made a convincing argument that

people who eat landscaping should not have special privileges and possibly need to be restrained. Due to the

threat of a turf war, the section was removed.

I understand that members here are a "friggin pain" and often "loony."

I am also told that people here are cold and mean and will make me pay for advice. Is there any truth to this?

Sadly, there is. We tell people that so that they will stop pestering us with requests to landscape their lot (see

above), which allows us to actually get in some gardening time. Ok, just kidding. Actually, the terms you

mention are corruptions by lay persons of the words "frigipan" and "loamy." These refer to soil condition, not

our members. Well, at least not to most of them.

I donÂt seem to be getting the help I need.

The Psychiatric Hotline is only a phone call away.

What is the difference between a "garden" and "landscaping"?

An excellent question. An exhaustive poll of our members, as well as a very heated discussion, did produce a

definitive answer everyone could agree on: garden proceeds landscaping in the dictionary.

I am so glad I found this forum. I need a landscape really, really fast that is low-maintenance, comes in

different pretty colors but is, you know, adaptable. It has to be rugged and tough, because I have three kids and

five dogs, but also elegant enough for when I entertain corporate clients. I donÂt have much time for weeding or

watering, so please factor that in. Did I mention I need this ASAP? What do you have for me?


RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by blue_velvet_elvis Zone 5 (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 6:06

I guess what I don't understand is why the highly paid, unvalued landcape professionals aren't hanging out on

the professionals board, and why they berate the newbies when they post here. Perhaps there needs to be a skill

level test prior to posting here. There isn't really a comprehensive forum that involves landscaping other than

this one. Many individual plants do not a garden make. I think the people that post here that are unprepared are

at least on the right track.

I have had questions several times but never have posted them as it's somewhat like approaching the Great Oz. I

do keep reading and trying to learn on my trek down the path.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by rhodium New England Z6 (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 8:23

Additional New rules for newbies (like me!!) - at least as I see it in my humble outspoken opinion;

1. Newbies must be hazed.

2. Newbies must read minds.

3. Newbies must never ask for advice.

4. Newbies must read only.

5. Newbies must not offend the "pro's".

6. Newbies must find a "pro" to align themselves with and fawn over that "pro".

7. Newbies must not point out the rules, because they are secret.

8. Newbies must always be directed to another forum... only the strong will return.

9. Newbies must have a sense of humor.

10. Newbies must not vent their frustrations to the board.

11. Newbies must be willing to jump into a fray that they don't understand and like what they get.

12. Newbies must be crazy to post here.

But the real question is;

What happened to Tony?

Was he shot, choke on diner food, or did he just blackout?

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by saypoint 6b CT (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 8:58

elvis, if the professionals and experienced amateurs (of which there are many more than pros) all went

elsewhere, you would have not much left here but the ramblings of newbies who congratulate each other on

really dreadful designs. If that is what you want, there are plenty of other websites that will fill your needs.

There is also a newbie forum, but you don't see anyone suggesting they go there unless their question is so

elementary (how do I divide daylilies) that they really belong there. I refer people to the shrubs forum when all

they are asking for is plant selection, which is one of the last things you do when designing, so I figure their

design is already done.

Trying to explain to every composter that they need to put some thought into design first is a thankless job. If

they had read through any other threads first, or done a search, both minimal efforts, they would know that.

Yes, some of the regulars here are loamy, but I think the percentage is actually a bit less than you'd find in the

general population. This forum is lively, informative, provocative, and yes, a bit brutal sometimes, but it is what

it is. I wouldn't change it one bit.

swanoir, thanks for the chuckle. You have a great sense of humus.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by nandina 8b (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 9:03

Wiping tears of laughter from my eyes...thanks, Swanoir! Well done! Perhaps before asking a question some of

our posting friends might want to take a moment to consider if the query is a design question, a gardening

question, a plant selection question and most important...does the question belong on this Forum or one of the

many others here on GW? Plant selection questions are better asked elsewhere. And, have you noticed that

design questions do get answered with respect or with comments designed to make the questioner think out of

the Tony and the other pro's.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by wellspring (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 9:13

After the above post from rhodium, I'm not sure that it is worth trying. I like the humus in Swanoir's OP, but

once the language moves toward black / white, I'm right / you're wrong, and "Let's get rid of the bums." Then

civilized discourse pretty much goes out the window.

Personally I get so tired of exchanges between adults that MUST be reduced to the lowest bar possible. Why not

expect more from each other? I am not a pro. For heaven's sake, I can't even see the things people post and talk

about here as I'm totally blind. Yet because of the high bar that is set I keep coming back. I've learned a great

deal from reading and posting here. It says something for the range and depth of comment that a blind woman

visits for years because I know there are people who post here who have something that is rare in our

worldÂtrue conversation. Killing that is like shooting snow tigers.

It sometimes feels as though the only acceptable level of competence on this forum is D+. Anything else,

anything finer, becomes a target for scorn.

Back to Swanoir's pursuit of the Holy GrailÂan FAQ for this forum. I'm willing to do some digging and

thought I'd start with what someone dubbed "Miss R's Rules". It's really her material for initial conversations

with clients. I'm putting the old thread directly in this message with very slight editting.

In a thread titled "Easy Question" the OP wrote:

Posted by daaw1 8b (on Tue, Sep 12, 06 at 16:33)

New to this forum but not to GardenWeb. We recently built a home and due to the low lot, quite a bit of dirt had

to brought in. This in turn killed the 3 large oak trees that we had. The oak trees were removed and we now have

a large bare front yard. My wife nor I have alot of "vision" (we know what we like only when we see it)so we

can't decide what to do with this clean slate. The last thing we want to do is spend alot of money on the

landscape and say to ourselves, "that's not right".

OK now the question.

Would it be inappropriate for me to post pics of the house to solicit ideas from people on this forum that have

that much coveted ability to see how things will look before they are done?

miss_rumphius_rules z6 NJ wrote on Tue, Sep 12, 06 at 17:15

It's not inappropriate, but remember that you get what you pay for. The advice found here can be excellent, it

can also be really inappropriate.

Catkim San Diego 10/24 wrote on Tue, Sep 12, 06 at 17:46

Do post your photos, but also give some idea of what might fulfill your vision. Clean slate photos are difficult to

work from unless the homeowner expresses some kind of "wish" list and "avoid" list, as well as information

about climate, soil, orientation to the sun, etc.

Karinl BC Z8 wrote on Tue, Sep 12, 06 at 18:41:

Also tell us your needs and expectations regarding use of the space, amount of gardening and maintenance you

want to do, and how much you want to spend.

miss_rumphius_rules z6 NJ wrote on Tue, Sep 12, 06 at 19:32

Here's what you should think about in terms of wants and needs. Sorry for the quality of the typing it's copied

from a word doc I use with my clients. I eliminated the household members/pets part because you already know



1. Use of the garden (circle preferences)

Weekends only



Rest & Relaxation

ChildrenÂs play


2. Existing problems (visual and functional) Deer? Pets?



Positive elements to be retained or enhanced


4. Desired character of site (formal/informal, woodland, etc.)


5. Favorite plants (if any, include color preferences if known)


Planting effects

Emphasis on foliage

Flowers for cutting

Year round interest

Specific seasonal interest spring summer autumn winter

6. Hardscaping material preferences (circle all that apply)

Belgian block brick concrete

Gravel iron pavers

stone (type?) wood other (rock, iron, etc)

7. Client requirements (circle all that apply)

car parking area

sitting area


barbeque entertainment area


play area/toy storage


vegetable garden

herb garden

fruit orchard/garden flower cutting garden

utility area

bins: trash recycling

clothes line

tool storage shed/potting shed/bench

compost heap

8. Other elements to be included (circle all that apply)

lighting irrigation furniture

water feature (type) ornaments/sculpture planters/containers

pergola/arbor/trellis/gate fencing (wood/iron) sculpture

9. Client expectations for time to complete project:

10. Budget

Initial costs

Client level of involvement in maintenance high moderate low none

Annual maintenance costs

Other budgetary considerations


daaw1 wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 06 at 7:41

Awesome! thanks for the responses. some forums are more friendly than others.

I will post some photos soon and try to give an accurate discription of what we are looking for.

thanks again

brent_in_nova z7/6 VA wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 06 at 8:40

"some forums are more friendly than others"

Exactly! Stick around and you will find out why everybody calls the Landscape Design forum the friendliest

place on GardenWeb! least I think "friendliest" is the term that they use. ;-)

- Brent

gweirdo WA wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 06 at 10:20

Very funny Brent.

Actually I think the idea of using a well proven checklist as a starting point for defining a plan is one of the

more practical and helpful ideas I've seen posted here. Thank you Miss R.

miss_rumphius_rules z6 NJ wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 06 at 12:20

Here's the next step after the checklist. Use the plat you got when you bought the house to figure out N-S


1. Approach to house

Size of street

Traffic intensity

Primary orientation of property

Front to back (north to south, etc.)

2. Architectural characteristics of main structure (if any)

Type of structure

Age and style


Location of doors and windows

Dominant color scheme

3. Outside services

Location of downspouts

Outside lights Sockets

Electric meter Gas meter

A/C unit


4. Hard landscaping

Condition and materials of walkways




Other Structures

5. Views to and from house

To front right house from street

To front left house from street

To front boundary from house

To back boundary from house

To side boundaries from house (left and right)

To house from boundary

6. Sounds or smells

7. Microclimate


Areas of shade in mid-winter



Areas of shade in mid-summer



Prevailing wind direction?

Frost pockets?

8. Level changes

Front of property

Sloping ground?

Areas showing erosion?

Areas showing poor drainage?

Wall heights

Height of steps

Back of property

Sloping ground?

Areas showing erosion?

Areas showing poor drainage?

Wall heights

Height of steps

9. Soil


Depth of topsoil

10. Existing plants

Front of property (location and condition)



Foundation plantings

Back of property (location and condition)



Foundation plantings

Side yard (location and condition)



Foundation plantings

Special Site Considerations

Karinl BC Z8 wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 06 at 12:30

I'll say that's a good checklist, Miss R. I can't believe you found something about it to apologize for when you

posted it! But Daaw, don't feel you have to answer ALL those questions in your question. I don't know about

others, but my friendliness might not survive being asked to consider where to put your clothesline :-)...

although, that is something I have wanted for 15 years and might finally be close to finding a place for. It's

tougher than you might think.

daaw1 wrote on Thu, Sep 14, 06 at 15:39

thanks Miss R, your list printed fine. There is a lot more to consider as karin1 pointed out. For the record, I

won't ask about clothesline placement until I get to know everyone better.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by gardengal48 PNW zone 8 (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 9:59

The humus approach the FAQ's is very much appreciated - I really liked the comment about the vegetarian

aspect :-)

But even presented with tongue in cheek, the last two posts do point out an issue that is often overlooked or

ignored by first time posters and that may very well be due to a misunderstanding of the landscape design

process and vocabulary. Plant selection is very different and quite separate from landscape design - so much so

that design schools offer distinctly separate courses in planting design that are not undertaken until well after the

aspects of basic landscape design skills are mastered. And yet so many new posts are asking for just this type of

help, putting the cart well before the horse.

As wellspring's recall of ms. rumphius's excellent outline/checklist demonstrates, it's a long road to travel before

you get to the finishing touches, which is what plant selection is. If you favor the analogy that creating a

landscape design is like baking a cake, then the plant selection is the icing on the cake. "Individual plants do not

a garden make" indeed!

And I agree, some form of this checklist is an excellent start to an official version of a LD forum FAQ. It IS the

starting point to landscape design.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by rhodium New England Z6 (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 10:05

Wellspring et al,

After such eloquence of thought, I must offer my sincere apologies for a frustrated vent and expressing myself

in a less than high-bar manner.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by brent_in_nova z7/6 VA (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 12:05

I have not been posting much to this forum lately. It is partially because my work and home life have been pretty

busy and keeping up with my own landscape has been taking up a lot of time as well. I do find that when I drop

into the forum after a week about all I see are "design my blank slate" posts...ho hum. I have to think that most

people just do not understand what it takes to create an interesting landscape. Even a standard "row of shrubs

and daylilies" foundation planting is not a trivial task for an inexperienced gardener, especially one on a

shoestring budget.

I cannot speak for others, but as an amateur gardener trying to improve my landscape I spend countless hours

reading (books, magazines, catalogs, Internet, etc). I try to get out and tour gardens, attend lectures and browse

nurseries. I spend several hours each week on maintenance chores such as weeding, mulching, watering,

composting, and edging. I devote a lot of time to growing plants from seed to help keep costs down. I still find

that I spend several hundred dollars per year on just maintenance items (fertilizer, mulch, potting mix, soil

amendments, tools, etc.) and a few improvements can easily push my costs up to $1,000 per year. This is just for

plants and basic items. Items such a patios, paths, pergolas, and furniture can really boost the budget.

I don't mind the time, effort and money that go into my landscape because I consider it a hobby and something

that I am passionate about. When I see an inexperienced gardener with a blank slate I have to wonder if they

really want anything more than a standard foundation planting.

- Brent

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by wellspring (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 15:10

I went digging again.

I was looking specifically for the thread below because it's brief but covers a great deal of basic territory. What

if Maggie_Berry hadn't pursued her intuition about needing design help? Would she have put in her driveway,

walk, and deck without thinking about her electrical and drainage needs? What if jerger never heard from

GardenGal48 that there is a designer approach for the DIYer? What if mich-in-zonel-denial left the forum? OH,

drat! She already didÂ

Stay tunedÂsame Bat channel, same Bat station.

How do you or what do you need to know, to hire a designer

Maggie_Berry z6CT began this thread on Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 21:01

I hope you can help me understand the process of using a landscape designer so that my expectations are in line

with reality. My flat driveway is 200 feet long and the parking area is about 50 by 50. I have someone all set to

pave the driveway with asphalt. I have a mason all set to lay a walk way/ patio/ entrance to the house. DH

agrees the Deck leading to the kitchen needs a rehap. So what is the problem? I need help pulling all this

together.How do you get the help? My local nurseymen want $150 to come out and look and give me an

estimate. BUT I'm fearful of this process. I mean, I can understand how and what I'm getting with the paver man

and the mason. They quote a job and I get to take it or leave it. If the workman suggest something as a result of

his estimate, I can incorporate or use that Idea without guilt. For example if I want an eight foot wide driveway

and the paver suggest 10 feet I can use that idea in future bids without blinking an eye. For the money do I own

the designers idea? Also for $150 dollars I don't think I'm going to get a detailed landscape plan so what is the

point of the $150.00? Also I think I want a few choices, I would like to see a design involving a court yard,

another design with a Japanese Garden feel with stones and another creative design. I have no experience in any

area of my life working with a designer of any kind so any advice or comments would be appreciated, Maggie

Follow-Up Postings:

SayPoint 6b CT wrote On Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 21:37

A high quality landscape design involves a lot of work and lot of time on the part of the designer. It involves

measuring your property, making scale drawings, noting everything about the site that is important, like sun,

soil, underground or overhead utilities, existing structures, trees, and shrubs, etc. I involves talking to you about

your needs and desires for your property, and trying to determine how to best incorporate those needs into a

design that functions safely and efficiently, is aesthetically pleasing, and hopefully, environmentally sound. I

have hired professional landscape designers in the past. Your nursery man may or may not have adequate design

skills. Many nurseries offer this type of service, they come out and put together a very quick design. They

charge a nominal fee to cover themselves for the time they'll spend on it, because they can spend all day going

from house to house giving people ideas on what to plant and never make a sale from any of them. I wouldn't

necessarily consider this a landscape design, though.

I'd consult with a real designer before you have your patio and walks installed. The mason may put them in

where it's easiest to put them, not taking into consideration how they will look or function, or whether they will

leave you areas that are difficult to plant in because they are too narrow, etc.

Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000-3000 and up for

a complete plan for an average sized property, I think. Divide that up if you're doing portions of the property at a


You won't be getting three designs to choose from, like they do on TV, unless you want to pay extra. You can

throw some ideas around in advance with a designer before you get to the design stage, and narrow your choices

down to one idea based on his/her recommendations for your site. Some designers can do any style, some prefer

one or another, like natural style, or English gardens, or Japanese gardens. The style of your house and

neighborhood may suggest a style for your garden. You don't want it to look out of place, ie. roman fountains in

front of a ranch house, or something.

It takes hours and hours of work to create a design. A nursery guy can put together a selection of plants that will

thrive in your site conditions in an hour or so, but it won't be a design, just a planting. Depends on what you

want and how much you are willing to spend to make it really special.

Maggie_Berry z6CT wrote On Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 22:54

Saypoint thank you for your guidance, Yes, I have been watching way to much Landscapers Challenge. So

forgive the next set of questions. Do I call a Designer and say:" I want to interview you for the job of designing

my landscape. What is your fee to come out and help me SET A BUDGET to pay for your design to the front of

my house including the walkway, driveway approach and the look of the new deck with the potential of a garage

later?" I broke out a telephone book after reading your post and have a few choices of people in the area who

appear to be only Landscape Designers. Is this how to go about it? For $2000.00 I want to be impressed. But I

don't have an impressive contribution to make to bring this design together. So, my fear is the Designer will say

what do you want, I will say something profound like: give me a Zen like courtyard next to my dutch colonial

and leave room for a garage. I feel like I'm in a catch twenty two. Hire a designer to work out my lack of a plan

and live with the decision or Come up with my own design and spend $2000.00 redoing it or fixing it to work.

Can you comment on this feeling did you ever attempt to go it alone or have you found using a Designer to far

less complicated them I'm making it out to be???

ilima Kihei, HI. Z11 wrote On Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 4:03

You are making it too complicated. You do not need to come up with the design so much as the function and

how much time and/or money your are willing to spend maintaining it once it is installed.

The functions you already know are the drive, walkway to entry, kitchen deck and future garage. What about

kids, grandkids, pets, parties ect. What do you think your use or non-use of the landscape will be? Do you want

something to use and if so for what purposes or just something nice to look at when you pull in the drive? Who

is going to maintain it? You need to be asking the practical questions like that.

The landscape designers job is to come up with the sound and aesthetically pleasing, to you, design solutions to

the practical considerations of the site, your needs and your budget.

The only real design type work that may be asked of you since you are not sure is to show the designer what

type of landscapes appeal to you either from photo's or local properties that you admire.

A complete landscape design will cover your entire property and make for a cohesive plan that can be

implemented all at once or over time depending on your budget. Yes you will own the ideas on a landscape


You can call a designer and say you want to interview them but it might be better to say - I am looking for a

landscape design that includes these items. What kind of services do you provide and what is your fee? The

conversation from there will let you know more. If you set up an appointment to meet, ask them if they have a

portfolio they can bring.

Hope that helps a bit more.


Odie99 z7a NJ wrote on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 7:37

As Ilima has said, your participation can be varied. From "do it for me" or "these are the ideas I have. My best

designs are with as much input from my clients. Form follows function. You let the designer know what you

need and a theme, and they will incorporate that into a plan with the right plant material, hardscape and flow to

make it happen.

Saypoint's experience is right on. You do need to interview the designer. You have to feel comfortable with

them and their methods. I encourage my clients to collect ideas, magazine articles, photos and any other

inspiration, so that I may get a better idea of what they seek. Not everyone is able to express their ideas in

words. You can make a lot more than $2000 in mistakes without a plan. The plan will bring all the different

aspects into a cohesive design for your enjoyment. This is your property, it is up to you to lead the design and

depend on the professionals skills and knowledge to make your dreams a fabulous landscape for you and your

family to enjoy for many years.


Maggie_Berry z6CT wrote on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 8:45

Ah I get it, I understand. I do have a few dream magazine photos and layouts that I like. I will work with DH to

narrow them down and make notes. Also thinking about the yard in terms of function opens up a whole new

area of thought for me. I will be starting the process of calling Designers and talking to them about their

schedules. At this point I have selected a paver and mason and workmen and have workable quotes so adding a

budget for a Designer NOW that I understand how to go about it will be the best course of action. Also, with

you all help, my expectations can be met because I can "work" a want list from the Designer. I want a place to

park the cars so the cars are not the focus point. I want a place to sit with 12 or more people to view my 100

roses and my existing gardens. I want a walkway to prevent dirt from the gardens from coming into my house. I

want a smaller place for just me and hubby to drink coffee and look at the gardens and ect. And most of all I

want to thank you guys for getting me headed in the right direction!!!

SayPoint 6b CT wrote on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 9:14

Maggie Berry, I think you've got it! A good designer will ask you many questions about how you want to use

your property. They should ask you if you have pets, if you have a lot of parties, and for how many people.

Kids? Sports activities? Do you want to play croquet or badminton on a lawn or do you need lots of beds to indulge a passion for flower gardening?

It sounds like you've got things under control. I found setting a budget difficult. Keep in mind that you can

implement your plan over a number of years to get the landscape you really want, once you have a plan, and you

won't be wasting money on mistakes and impulse purchases in the meantime.

I'm so excited for you! Good luck!


mich_in_zonal_denial on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 9:49


A couple of thoughts.

You may like to check out Landscape Designer and Educator Linda Engstroms website for her clientel

questionaire sheet.

It will help you form your wish sheet.

I'm concerned that you already have 'workable quotes' from your stone masons if you don't already have a plan

in which they can bid from. Perhaps they have just given you some 'hypotheticals prices and budgets based on a

random square foot price'. It would be impossible for a contractor to quote you a firm price at this stage in the

process because no one knows the true nature of the scope of the project as of yet.

Odie99, provided you with an excellent link to his webpage that shows his DESIGN PROCESS.

Every designer has their own method of working with a client during the design process, and for the most part

the steps are pretty much the same for all of us but of course each person is a unique individual ( both the client

and the designer) so the nuances of the process may vary a little bit.

Here is another Design Process for you to glean in order to understand further how a designer might work in

tandem with you.

An overview of the Design Process

Needs Assessment

When you first contact -----, she will ask you general questions about your objectives with your landscape

project. If she feels the project is a good fit for her skills, she will typically follow the phone conversation with a

visit to your house. This will give her an opportunity to develop a more thorough understanding of your project.

----- will bring her portfolio or other materials to help you understand her work and project approach.

If this meeting is basically a getting to know one another interview, then this meeting is generally not billed for.

If this is a horticultural & or a design consultation providing the client with tangible information this meeting is

billed for at the hourly rate of $ 95.00 per hr.

This initial visit may then be translated into a proposal for design services, or a contract. For smaller projects we

may simply outline what we will do and provide a deadline by which we will complete the project.

- Development of Landscape Plans - the phases:


----- will come back to your property to measure and photograph the site. Information gathered will be soil , sun,

water pressure and drainage conditions, existing plants, structures & viewing corridors . A base plan will be

prepared from this information.

Also a meeting will be schedule with your city planner to review all CC+R's for your site.

Preliminary Plans and the Design Review Meetings

Based upon the analysis and our conversations the preliminary design schemes will be prepared. These

preliminary design concept sketches are drawn roughly to scale in site plan form with a corresponding colored

pencil perspective sketch to further assist you in the visualization of the design concepts. Typically several

schemes will be presented and we will meet to review the various schemes and determine a final design for the

Master Plan .

Master Plan

Graphic representation of the project communicating the scope of the job

Construction Plans

Derived from the Master Plan the final construction plan package is assembled. Depending on the scope of the

project these plans may include the detailed planting plan , the site plan with grading specifications ,

construction details and elevations for hard surfaces such as patios, walls, stonework , pergolas and swimming

pools, drainage schematics , irrigation plans, and low voltage lighting plans.

Pricing of Landscape Plans

We bill our time out on an hourly basis at $ 95.00 per hour. A budgetary estimate of our time will be presented

to you in our contract for services. As a basic rule of thumb landscape design fees usually work out to be

approx. 10 to 12% of landscape construction costs.


Once the design phase is complete, we will work with you to implement the installation.

---- is affiliated with ------ Landscape Construction but also has the flexibility to work with other highly

qualified installation contractors if you choose.

Regardless, ---- will ensure that a high standard of quality craftsmanship is carried through and that all plants,

hardscaping and sculptural elements will be executed as per plan.

Maggie_Berry z6CT wrote on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 13:10

I'm glad for the additional comments. The quotes were based on my version of how the drive way and walkway

deck combo would work. Just enough information to know I can afford to put in a driveway and walkway and

fix the deck at the minuimum. BUT I did not even think about changing the elevation or putting in lights and

electricity until you posted. NOW, I can see how adding these things after the walkway and Deck are in place

would be a mess and a waste. I also did not think about permits and asking to see the Designers portfolio as a

jumping off point. In fact I really like that as a starting point. That would feel real comfortable and easy to us.

Also 10 to 12% of the overall cost is really about the same as the taxes. Thats worth it not to ruin the perfect

drainage that I have, a rare thing in New England. I contacted a Designer today, Saturday, I don't expect to hear

anything until Monday, which gives me time to think and do much more research. I'm also waiting to hear from

the local Real Estate Office for a reference on a Designer. Sincerely, Maggie

Jerger z5 WI wrote on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 13:43

I'm glad I found this post because I have been mulling these same questions. I have 2 acres to plan and I've been

hoping to get a professional design that I can implement over time.

I just had my house built, but I was able to reduce the overall cost of the product by 'sweat equity'. Is there a

similar concept when working with a landscape architect in the design process? I'm sure the 10%-12% is earned,

but I'm also sure that I can't afford that expense for this property right now. Is there anything I can provide or

service I can do myself to help reduce that cost? (e.g. providing dimensions of propery and structures, mapping

location existing trees and other features) Would any landscape designer even be willing to work with me in this


I have another question regarding that 10%-12%. I assume that figure is based on the cost of having the

landscaping and other features installed professionally and the tree and other foliage installed at a more mature

size versus my own labor to install things and buying smaller trees and foliage that will grow into a more mature

size. Is that correct?



mich_in_zonal_denial on Sat, Aug 27, 05 at 14:29

Jerger and Maggie,

I'm glad that you found this forum and that we have been able to help you.

It is so pleasurable to correspond with people who are proactive in their research.

Jerger, There are many sizes and shapes of Services that Landscape Designers offer. I happen to offer full

master planning and project management when working with a professional construction crew and the client ,

and my fees reflect that. My practice is not really geared towards the DIY'er . Most of the design + installation

work that we do employs higher end finishes and pretty expensive materials that are better left in the hands of a

skilled artisan. Our plans are normally highly detailed , right down to spec'ing the size of the bolt, the finish on

the bolt and the spacing of the bolt. ( as an example go over to the Landscape design gallery forum and check

out the post called Arbor Knee Braces - joe )

Hopefully Gardengal will join the conversation because she specializes in creating affordable working plans for

Do It Yourselfers.

Maggie , you are getting it girlfriend !

The best thing that a homeowner can do for themselves is to get a full MASTER PLAN of their project. This can

save you so much stress in the long run . Even if you do not have the funds to install your low voltage lighting

system or auto-matic driveway gate ( or anything electrical or irrigation wise ) in Phase I of your project. At

least the general contractor will be able to read the plans and drop in your sleeves underneath your pavement

areas so that in the future all they have to do is pull their lines thru the installed sleeves. Preplanning..... it's a

beautiful thang.

A well crafted and detailed set of plans can save you a ton of aggrevation in the long run. We spec how much

soil to bring into each bed, what type of soil ( we have 16 mixes to choose from here ) how to work it into the

bed ( manual, tilled, disk, etc.) .

So if your contractor shows up with a pick up load of soil ( one yard ) and the plans specified 10 yards ( a big

dump truck delivery ) , you now have the educational tools to know if you are being slighted or not.

Someone recently wrote on another thread that landscaping is so much more than digging a hole and burying it,

or knowing what weed to pull.

Landscape designers wear a lot of different hats.

That is one reason why there is a fairly large gap between hourly rates. One designer may offer a full range of

services while another may not.

When you interview several designers , ( this is an investment and your money should be spent wisely ) ask

them how detailed their plans are. You want to know the level of information that they are going to document.

keep us posted of your progress .

gardengal48 PNW zone 8 wrote on Sun, Aug 28, 05 at 10:19

Jerger, I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a designer to work with you under those conditions - that is

exactly the degree of involvement I NEED my clients to have!

As Mich has so ably pointed out, there is a whole menu of landscape designers and services offered by them out

there from which to choose. From the complete, high-end, soup to nuts approach Mich and others specialize in

to a more modest (and yes, affordable) plan of attack that many designers offer to homeowners like yourself

that wish to be intimately involved in the process and defray much of the cost by doing all the heavy work

themselves - or as much as they are able.

I doubt it is just a regional thing - perhaps a notion that is encouraged by HGTV and the plethora of home

improvement shows now offered by nearly any tv network - but in my area there is no shortage of clients

wanting exactly the type of designer input you describe. Someone to work with them to create a plan they can

follow as time, energy and budget permits. The more involved the homeowner is in this process from the start of

the design phase, the more successful the project will be on completion. And sometimes that completion is

considerably out there in the future. I have several clients who have been working on implimenting my designs

for them for any number of years - it is a never ending source of delight for me to revisit these gardens from

time to time to see how far they have progressed and how the whole project is coming together and to witness

the sense of pride and accomplishment these folks have at personally crafting their landscapes.

Regardless of the scope of the designer's input, the steps in selecting a designer and the overall design process

will be virtually identical. You want a designer with whom you can communicate freely, who has a clear grasp

of your specific landscape needs and requirements and who can successfully translate them into a sufficiently

complete and detailed plan for you to follow. That requires a thoughtful and detailed vocalization of what you

want your landscape/garden to do for you and the features you want it to provide. It requires an interview

process similar to that undertaken when hiring any professional so that a good match up of personalities and

skills are guaranteed.

While one can certainly shortcut the labor and cost involved in implementing a landscape design by doing most

or all of the work one's self, do not short cut the designer selection process or your own responsibility in clearly

outlining what it is you expect to accomplish. Regardless of whether it is a full-blown design and build project

t with specs covering everything as detailed as bolt finishes or a more modest DIY installation, the preliminary

groundwork in researching designer selection and formulating exactly what you want this design to accomplish

will be the same.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by duluthinbloomz4 (My Page) on

Tue, Jun 12, 07 at 17:37

Getting a headache using the navigation bars since this post is sized so large - harkens back to yesteryear using

micro-fiche. That being said, let me add that humor and wit may well assuage the underlying message.

I lurk and learn here because I'm simply a gardener, or better yet, simply someone who gardens. What I know I

know from reading, asking, or experimenting. Every new season is another opportunity to get things "right"

given the confines of my property and the idea as to how I wish to use it, the set of my house which is no doubt

the real controlling element, the hardscape, garden areas, existing large trees, focal points, etc. After almost a

year of following these posts and going back through those of interest to me, I accept the fact that presenting my

situation to any 5 landscaping pros would get me 6 ways it's not someone's idea of good. I agree that good

planning should be the first principle; taking into account there is no substitute for taste and knowledge as well

as being aware the world offers a wide range of different conditions and materials with which to work. Also

wide ranging is one's ability to cope with both the practical and financial implications of planning even a simple


I see no fault in prompting or pushing someone in a certain direction for plant selections or regional growing

conditions. I also see no fault in expecting a poster to provide pertinent information: a photo when possible,

location, exposure, budget, likes, dislikes, maintenance issues. I do have pause with some of the seemingly

unncessary put-offs or downs. Why does one bother to repond to a post in a manner that serves no purpose other

than to put one in their place? What has been referred to in previous posts as "abstract snobbery" might not have

its intended effect in helping someone think outside the box, or to identify the 800 lb. gorilla, or the misplaced

nose on the Pekingese. No offense to anyone as these were interesting think pieces, but someone not "getting it"

should not be relegated to the dunce corner.

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by charliedawg (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 11:38

Q: Why do some people like to put so much time and effort into NOT helping people.

A: Like the tootsie roll pop, "the world may never know".

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by mjsee Zone 7b, NC (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 13:09

WHAT is up with the size of this post?

I'm going to hit "enter" after each sentence to keep mine readable.

Swanoir--well done. I've learned TREMENDOUS amounts here in the years I've been posting lurking and


I learned as much from the cantankerous posts as the others.

Perhaps more!

I miss Eric from Ohio...his Victor/Victoria garden was a triumph!


RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by deeje (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 14:41

I'm pretty sure the horizontal size of the post

is due to those horizontal lines

from something cut and pasted here;

they should've been edited out before posting.

re: faq

* Posted by deeje (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 14:42

Good heavens, that made it look like I was trying to write haiku!

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by barefootinct 6a (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 15:18

deeje, nice poem



Here's another:

The FAQ You Requested

All the answers

you seek

will be answered

in time



use the search feature

In the Landscape Forum

of GardenWeb

as in life.


RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by brent_in_nova z7/6 VA (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 17:22

LOL! My guess is that wellspring does not "see" the problem so it is hard to blame her.

- Brent

Apology to all

* Posted by wellspring (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 19:36

Mea culpa.

But as Brent pointed out, it reads fine on my end.

Sorry guys. Guess I better not try hoisting old threads into this one anymore.

Just thought it might be good stuff for an FAQ.

Wellspring, who will begin a period of penance involving the viewing of several excellent silent movies

RE: Landscape Design Forum FAQ

* Posted by maro z8 WA (My Page) on

Wed, Jun 13, 07 at 21:51

LOL!! There is so much to laugh about here

-- and to ENJOY! Smile and appreciate,

then answer my questions, please.

Comments (7)