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  • Writer's pictureCheri LaMay

Focus on Garden Design Drawings

When engaging a garden designer you should look for someone with a deep understanding of what is required to deliver a garden that is beautiful all year, responds to your needs and lifestyle, and also responds to the unique nature of your garden site. Garden design is a profession that encompasses horticulture, soil science, design and also communication. With regards to communication, a professional garden designer will be able to communicate well face to face as well as preparing written documents and drawings to show the various aspects of the design proposals. We do both illustrative drawings which will show you how it would look and feel to be in a space, as well as technical drawings to show how the various aspects of the garden should be constructed and how the planting should be laid out.

Below you will see two examples of illustrative garden design drawings which I have made.

Sketch 01

Above you can see a perspective drawing which illustrates how the newly designed, constructed and planted garden will look when seen from an often used window of the house.

Exploded Birds Eye 01

Above is a drawing which is called an exploded bird’s eye view. It shows how the garden will look when seen from above, but with added perspective so that the space really opens up. This makes it easier to imagine being in the space.

Making the above types of illustrative drawings is one of my favourite aspects of garden design. It feels a little bit like opening presents used to feel when I was a child. Imagine having in your mind an idea of how a space will be laid out, and then drawing it in plan. At that stage you have what looks like a map of a garden and your ideas have been recorded. Making the illustrative drawings like the ones above is a step towards bringing the garden design into reality. As the lines are drawn the forms, textures and the relationships between the spaces becomes clear, and there are always exciting surprises!

Making this type of drawing can also bring issues that need to be resolved to light, and of course this is extremely useful. Better to return to the proverbial drawing board at this early stage in the design process than to have to do it later on when the physical work of making the garden is already happening! So, even though garden design plans and illustrative drawings do come at a price, it is money very well invested because potentially expensive mistakes can be avoided.

I use a garden design process that is very common in the design industries. This involves coming to meet with you for a consultancy when we look at your garden as it exists and talk about your needs and wishes. By the end of that first meeting we will have hammered out a basic unscaled sketch plan for your landscape. This does involve a lot of discussion and rubbing out, and this is time well spent. After that meeting I will send you a Proposal with a Brief and Quotations for the stages of design. After you have accepted this I will survey your garden, or arrange for a survey, and draw up a Concept Plan with  illustrative sketches.

Marfleet Concept

Above we see a Concept Plan (to the right) and two perspective sketches showing how the garden will look on the ground from two different points. I usually prepare a Concept Plan and sketches as the first formal stage of garden design, although the design process is flexible depending on your needs.

Once we have met and the Concept Plan has been discussed thoroughly, and agreed, revisions to the design will be integrated into detailed drawings. I call this next package of drawings the Master Plan, and it includes a scaled plan with annotations describing the required work. The annotations will refer to other drawings which are included in the package and also to a Specification document which clearly describes the required materials and quality of work, and other important information.

FMF Master Plan 01

A detailed Master Plan like the one above enables you to get a number of quotes for the work so that you can compare prices like for like. This type of drawing is also used as a form of quality control during the construction of the garden.

Harrogate MP sheet 2 of 2

Above we see a sheet of Constructional Details which relate to the Master Plan. Since each garden is different the Details which I draw up are all bespoke. In my opinion the details of a landscape “make” the place!

Once the Master Plan has been firmly agreed a Planting Plan can be drawn up. I will make a Plant Palette showing photos of the different types of plants for different parts of the garden so that you can see the overall effect. The plants will be selected to suit the unique conditions of your garden as well as for the unique aesthetic we are designing especially for you! Once the Plant Palette has been agreed the Planting Plan will be drawn up showing each plant plotted on a plan. A Plant Schedule will be included. This shows the required quantity of each species and the pot sizes. A Planting Plan enables you to get the feel of the garden before the planting takes place, and also enables us to get the correct quantity of plants.

FMF Planting Plan2 Birch Tree Walk and North of Back Garden
FMF-Planting Plan-FMF Planting Plan House and Barn

Above we see two example Planting Plans, each relating to the same garden. The front garden of this renovated farmhouse features frothy cottage planting while the back garden has woodland planting leading up to and through a Birch tree walk.

All of the above types of drawing have been developed for centuries by architects and they have become the norm for related professionals like landscape architects and garden designers. If you are thinking about remaking your garden do consider using a professional designer rather than a “design and build” firm. It is worth remembering that, although a designer will have fees to pay, the drawings that you receive will enable you to get firm Quotations for the work of making the garden, rather than estimates. The drawings also enable you to get truly competitive prices for the work, since you are comparing like for like. And, finally, having a clear set of drawings can help you to avoid expensive mistakes! So overall, paying for a garden design is a very worthwhile investment.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my garden design services. You can watch a video which sets out the garden design process in detail at my website:  If you are interested in talking to me about your own garden please contact me via my website or by emailing; or by calling me on 07958199403. I work throughout Yorkshire. If you are interested in learning more about garden design please ask about the garden design courses that I teach at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate. Thank you for reading and looking forward to hearing from you!

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