Heartwood Garden Design

The Garden Design Process – How does it work?
The Garden Design Process - How does it work?

Garden Design Process – how does it work?

Having your garden designed is an exciting process and there are a few steps in the process that take you from your garden as a blank canvas to a beautifully built and planted garden perfect for your needs. So what is included in the Garden Design Package? The process of designing a garden is best demonstrated by looking at an example of a completed garden and the drawings that are involved.

What stages are there in the Garden Design Process? 

New garden designs always begin with an initial meeting to take a look at the site or garden and discuss what you would like to achieve from the garden.

Everyone is different and our job is to find out exactly what your perfect garden looks like! We’re good at it and following our first meeting we will send you a ‘Design Brief’ to review and confirm that we’ve understood clearly what you want to achieve, with clear guidance about the garden design process ahead. 

Topographical Survey & Site Analysis

The first stage is a Topographical Survey and Site Analysis – this is usually completed by Heartwood Garden Design unless the client already has an accurate and up-to-date survey already. Completed by our professional surveyor, a topographical survey maps the whole site, including the house, dpc (damp proof course) levels, existing hedges, trees and planted areas, hardscape areas, levels, manhole covers, downpipes, drives, and more. It maps everything we need to know about what is on the site at present.

Alongside the survey is a Site Analysis. In many ways, a Site Analysis is a bit of a SWOT analysis, and part of the job of the Designer is to enhance and focus attention on existing strengths and mitigate weaknesses. We also look at site access, soil quality, drainage, compacted soil and existing plants and trees and the design includes recommendations from this analysis.

Image: our surveyor completes a topographical survey
Surveyor conducting a topographical survey

Concept Design

Concept Design is the first stage and brings together all the key information and creative vision. This stage is all about creating a vision of the garden in a way that’s inspiring, makes sense and deals with practical issues.

Design work for smaller gardens is usually developed as a 2D colour plan, a bit like an architect’s floor plan, with images to illustrate key features. Key points to establish at this stage are paving type and pattern, retaining walls, steps, water features, feature trees and plants and lighting effects. With larger gardens, we often develop 2D visuals into 3D to provide views from different perspectives and ‘walk through’ effects. Your Concept Design is the ‘vision’ for your garden, it takes time but ensuring that your garden has energy, flow and balance is key. We usually go through Concepts by Zoom, as it allows us to show your proposed new garden over the existing topographical survey and can help you to visualise proposed changes.

Image: Concept Design example
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?

Planting Plans

With the Concept Design finalised the detailed drawings can be completed and the detail is critical to building and planting your garden beautifully. Planting Plans are critical for planting larger areas and our Planting Plans map out all of the plants for each area based on the aspect, garden style and maintenance. Each plan includes a schedule of plants covering how many plants are needed, which species and size. Our plans include a soil and planting specification which ensures that soil is prepared to our specification, and plants are carefully planted and mulched. We take pride in our plants and trees and only provide the best quality stock from some of UK’s best nurseries. We’re also proud to support the UK plant and tree nursery industry.

Image: Planting Plan example
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?

Garden Design Technical Package

The Technical Package is a full set of drawings that provides detailed plans on how to build your garden. This includes a Setting Out Plan, which provides details of how to map the plan out onto the garden, and dimensions for all features. Setting Out Plans also include existing and proposed levels so that any level changes are clear. The Construction Plan identifies all of the built elements on the garden, the materials, areas, construction method, and supplier and also shows areas where steel edging will be used. Construction is supported with Construction Drawings that explain clearly how each part of the garden will be built. A Written Specification recaps all of the information within the Construction Plan, creating a list of elements to be built. It also includes instructions on how the site will be managed, including deliveries, site safety, tree protection, disposal, and recycling of removed materials. We like to be clear about how to build the garden and the standards that are expected throughout construction. We work with some highly professional landscapers and will provide recommendations for tendering.

In many ways the technical package is the most important part of the design. A very high level of details doesn’t just mean that our vision of your garden is created accurately, it ensures that the build costs are accurate.

Because we ask contractors to provide a cost ‘line by line’ from our specification, costs from different contractors can be compared accurately. A high level of detail also means that everything has been considered and planned ahead of time, which is critical to ensuring smooth and timely construction. Landscapers love a highly detailed design package because all of the information that they need to assess cost and timing is very clear. When complete all copies of the Plans are made available to our clients and landscape contractors picked for tendering. We use Dropbox to share copies of drawings but we also provide a PDF portfolio of all drawings which can be downloaded and printed. At the end of the Design Package stage we also provide Tendering Services and Project Monitoring through the construction of your garden. You can find out more about these services on our website.

Image: Setting Out Plan & Construction Drawings
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?
The Garden Design Process – How does it work?

Author – Judy Shardlow

Expert Plantswoman and Garden Designer, Judy has over 25 years of experience in design and horticulture and holds and RHS Silver Gilt.

Contact us today for an informal chat about re-designing your garden.