Steps in the Landscape Design Process

Develop a Plot Plan

Conduct a Site Analysis

Assess Family Needs

Locate Use Areas

Design, Construct, and Plant

Landscape design is the conscious arrangement of outdoor space for human enjoyment and satisfaction. A well-designed home landscape is aesthetically pleasing and functional. It offers pleasure to the family, enhances the neighborhood, and adds to the property’s resale value.

With a little forethought and planning, you can organize your home site for maximum use and pleasure, and create a visual relationship between the house, its site, and the neighborhood.

The planning process, possibly the most important aspect of residential landscaping, is often neglected. We frequently see the evidence: a few scattered shade trees, overgrown foundation shrubs, a narrow concrete walk, and a fenced-in backyard. The resulting landscape rarely looks good, can be fairly expensive, and may not serve family needs.

Good planning can save you time, effort, and money and can lead to a much more satisfying environment.

When you begin planning the landscape of your home grounds, think about the entire space and the overall effect you want to achieve. Don’t limit your ideas to trees, shrubs, and grass. Consider a patio, deck, mailbox, screening wall, outdoor lighting, a new walk, or a parking area as possible landscape features.

There are six basic steps to creating your landscape. If you follow them, the finished product will be a personal landscape that reflects your family’s wants and needs and allows for growth and change in the future.

Step One Develop a Plot Plan The first step in landscape design is to draw a plot plan of the site showing the boundaries and physical features that will affect your design. The plan should include property lines and angles; show the placement of the house on the property; and indicate the location of driveways, utilities, easements, and any other limitations.

Locate one corner of the house by measuring the distance from the nearest property line and from the back edge of the curb. Measure the distance from each corner on the side of the house to get the correct orientation. Use a 50- or 100-foot flexible steel tape to make accurate measurements of the property.

If a plat is available, use it to obtain more accurate dimensions.

When all of your information has been gathered and marked on a rough sketch, transfer it to a final plot plan drawn accurately to scale (Fig. 1 A suitable scale is 1 inch per 10 feet. Suggested symbols are shown in Figure 2. Be sure to indicate compass directions on your plan.

Next, locate any existing features on the property and the house using the same method as shown in Figure 1. Be sure to include the following:

Windows, doors, and other openings, including height off the ground

Aboveground and underground utility lines

Existing trees and shrubs

Utility meters, drain pipes, water spigots, outlets, and septic tank

Features on or near the property line

Anything else prominent on the site.

Mark these features on the plot plan as shown in Figure 3 Step Two Conduct a Site Analysis

Take the time now to study the site and analyze its environmental features. Tape a sheet of tracing paper over the plot plan. You will use this sheet for your site analysis. An example is shown in Figure 4 Sun and Shade

The way the sun affects your house and site at different seasons will greatly influence the overall design. By knowing the direction of the sun at different times of the year, you can determine where trees will be needed to provide shade in the summer and where you will need open areas to allow the winter sun’s rays to heat the house and outdoor living areas.