Hiring a Landscape Architect 101

header hiring la 101

Are you interested in hiring a Landscape Architect to design your landscape or garden, but not sure where to start or what to expect in terms of product and fee?  Most of our typical residential design projects can be broken down into the following phases:

inventory 101

  1.  INVENTORY/ANALYSIS – Io takes measurements of your property (or coordinates the completion of a survey), combines them with plat data, aerial photography, along with site sketches and notes to create a base-plan for design work. We walk the property with you to talk about opportunities and constraints, and spend time getting to understand what your vision is for the project and how you would use the space.

sketch plan 101

  1.  SKETCH PLAN – Using the base plan created in the Site Inventory/Analysis Phase of the project (or a base map completed by a surveyor or the owner), we draw up a simple black&white sketch plan showing the overall layout of the yard. This includes precedent images of ideas/design elements that we would like to include in the design. It is usually the most helpful to complete several sketch plans to arrive at a good overall design that you, the client, are happy with!

master plan 101

  1.  MASTER PLAN – This more elaborate design phase typically includes two preliminary sketch plan alternatives, which we will review with you then complete a final more comprehensive master plan.  This colored illustrative and perspective rendering identifies the overall layout of the hardscape (walks, patios, decks, pergolas, etc.) and landscape (lawn areas, shrub beds, major tree locations).  It also includes a custom plan list and a construction budget for the proposed design.
  1. IMPLEMENTATION – Then based on your approval of the Master Plan, we have two different options to assist you with implementation.

4a.  DESIGN-BID-BUILD: These technical plans would identify the detailed layout and construction of hardscape elements, irrigation systems and detailed planting areas.  You can provide these drawings to various contractors to obtain bids from, they will also provide specific instructions for installation.

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4b.  DESIGN-BUILD: We coordinate on an hourly basis with a preferred landscape contractor, to help them interpret the Master Plan.  This is usually the preferred method for most residential projects and allows you the greatest flexibility in terms of adjusting/phasing the design.

This is just a summary of a typical design process. If you are thinking about hiring a landscape architect, we will come out to meet with you to learn more about your specific design needs and provide you with a custom fee proposal. Total design fees can range, but typically you should expect to pay somewhere in the 10-20% of your total project budget for quality design & construction coordination services. Keep in mind that Landscape Architects have much more extensive training than your typical Landscape Designer (it’s a licensed profession requiring a 4-year+ degree).  So, if your site is particularly challenging, or you are just looking for a truly unique outdoor living space, then it’s definitely worth the investment. Once you have a Master Plan, you can work on finishing off your landscape in phases without worrying about painting yourself into a corner!