Darlington Designs

Let’s Make Plans – Part 2

In the previous blog, we spoke about the initial steps in creating a landscape plan. In this blog, we will move to the next steps in creating a final landscape design plan.

After the base map is drawn—and for most companies, this is a computer-generated plan– the next phase is concept design development. The concept design incorporates all the aspects of the base map and begins to step into what is called “the design program.” Simply put, a “design program” describes how the space will be used and by who. The design program is discussed as part of the early client interviews and includes things like appropriate outdoor space for an active young family, busy professional people who love to entertain, or the needs of a retired person who travels frequently. A design program would also include features to accommodate a family member with physical limitations. Sometimes design programs are influenced by households with pets. All aspects of the project need to support the design program; the program is what drives the design.

As part of the client meeting and what works alongside the program for the landscape plan, is the development of a design theme. For example, a theme for the landscape plan might be the client’s love for Italy, in which case perhaps the colors or textures of a Mediterranean style might be included in the material selections, or plant material might be based on similar plants to the Mediterranean geography. Both the program and the theme work together to create a cohesive, appropriate and meaningful space for a client.

The concept design, really the first draft for the landscape design plans, incorporates placement for the larger or structural components into the space. This would include the footprint for decks, patios, swimming pools, cabanas, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces. “Bubbles” are drawn in as space-holders for areas such as lawn and plant beds. Important decisions to make at this point in the landscape plan development is circulation, which is how people will move in the space, how they move between spaces (like between the home and the space, between the driveway and the new outdoor space,) and how large, as in scale, the different spaces need to be to meet the design program.

Once our client approves the concept design, further landscape plans are developed including specifying plants, construction materials such as architectural finishes, deck and paver choices, and the locations for landscape lighting and irrigation. Depending on the project, we may require drawings with seals from an architect or engineer as they may be required by the township for permits. Most of these design phases are done in two-dimensional drawings and sometimes include elevations of the space. Once the final design is approved, we often create a three-dimensional design to help bring the design to life.

Working through design phases helps to ensure that all aspects of the project are considered and addressed so that arriving at construction, everything can flow as seamlessly as possible, allowing our clients to “escape into the landscape.”