Conceptual or Layout Plan

Creating texture with Daphne and FernsThe Conceptual Plan — also known as the Preliminary or Layout Plan — begins with an initial consultation. It’s a vision for the garden expressed through flexible layout shapes for the hardscape, planting beds and lawn areas, as well as ideas for future plant selection. A Conceptual/Layout Plan is similar in scope to Design-on-the-Fly, but more refined in quality: a “cleaner” drawing and a more resolved design solution due to the additional time spent considering the space. Payment by check or cash is requested upon receipt of the concept plan.

Developing the vision

Once we’ve determined your garden needs, desires and budget, I’ll produce scale drawings based on ideas discussed during the initial consultation. I’ll flesh out those ideas and often generate others, working toward the solution that will best suit the site and your requests. Structural trees and main plants or plant ideas will be noted on the plan as they come up. Some specific “problems” addressed include:

  • Increasing living space and improved entry area.
  • Privacy and special needs;
  • Circulation from one place to another;
  • Climate modification;
  • Needed on-site storage;
  • Soil preparation, drainage and grading;

black star illustration
Up to three possible solutions are presented to address challenges in the design. We’ll discuss specific merits or weaknesses of each before deciding which will be incorporated into the Planting Plan. If a Planting Plan isn’t needed, additional charges may be necessary for generating the final conceptual drawings with discussed modifications. This cost will be estimated at the time of presentation.

Since the Conceptual/Layout Plan primarily involves the hardscape elements — the most expensive and difficult aspect of garden building — a conversation may ensue about the best way to move toward installation. Contractors may be recommended to bid on the proposed work, giving the budget a “reality check” and allowing the process to move smoothly as we proceed into the final design phase.

Developing a layout plan takes about 15 hours — on average — for a front or back yard on a 50′ X 100′ Lot. I’ll provide a specific estimate for the design of your project at the time of our initial consultation.

Will my favorite plants be included in this plan?

The conceptual plan is more about the shape, structure and kinds of spaces your garden will have than it is about plants. Plant ideas will be included, but specific information on which plant belongs in each garden area is reserved for the Planting Plan.

Lists of your favorite plants are only as complete as your prior knowledge of them allows. What is invaluable to me is to see what kinds of plants you are naturally drawn to, allowing me the most informed plant selection based upon your individual taste. It may be advisable for us to go on a trip to a local nursery to look at plants to see what appeals to you.

The Do-it Yourselfer

A conceptual or layout plan may be sufficient for experienced gardeners. To help ease your way, the conceptual plan may include installation notes regarding grade changes, soil recommendations, materials suggestions and anything else I think will make the general vision for the garden easier to understand, including a drawing of a specific detail or area of the garden.

If desired, measurements can be included (layout plan) which will make the layout and installation of the garden easier to accomplish by you or a qualified contractor.

Illustration by Amy Whitworth

The plan will not include any construction details; those will be the responsibility of the installer. If the general layout of the garden is all you need from me, our work together will be done. I will be available to continue to coach you through the garden building process, as you need me. If you want assistance in choosing plants, a shopping trip may be in order.