Design Process




Design Philosophy

"There are three sources of form.  The first is human needs and the specific personal requirements of the client.  The second comprises the technology of materials, construction, and plants, including maintenance and a whole range of form determinants derived from the site conditions and quality.  The third is a concern for the spatial expression, which goes beyond the mere satisfaction of requirements and into the realm of fine arts."  - Michael Laurie, An Introduction to Landscape Architecture

Hiring a Designer

Peter recommends interviewing potential designers and looking at their past work.  A one hour interview about their work should give you a good idea of your potential compatibility, their talents, and should cost you nothing.   You may also discuss your project in general terms to see if their talents are a good match for you.

Sequence of tasks

1. Program Development: 

We meet on-site to develop criteria:  a shopping list of garden elements and preliminary budgets for design and construction.

2. Site Measurement Drawing: 

Shows existing conditions such as structures, easements, property line, utilities, plants, and notes local planning & permit requirements.

3. Base Map: 

Shows everything to remain as part of new design.  May contain some contour lines or spot elevations.

4. Site Analysis: 

Shows environmental influences, human activities, surroundings and any other critical conditions that support or constrain a design.

5. Bubble Diagrams: 

Simple outlines traced over basemap to show the relationship of elements to each other.  Bubbles show approximate size, shape or importance.

6. Rough Sketches: 

We meet again to discuss these plan-view alternatives for translating bubbles into rough form.  It is wise to review many alternative possiblities at this time.

7. Illustrative Plan: 

These combine the best parts of the rough sketches into one refined plan showing layout, materials, major plant massings, overall character and preliminary estimate of construction cost.  May include cross-sections, elevations, or even perspective sketches.

8. Working Drawings and Details: 

These are additional sheets for irrigation, lighting, planting etc.  They are used by a designer-builder to obtain permits, or solicit bids from  sub-contractors.

9. Construction Observation:

Your designer visits the site during construction to see if plans are being followed, to help resolve questions, and to assist in the selection and placement of major items.  However, the designer's role is one of observer or consultant, not that of supervisor.  If you wish Peter to supervise construction, you must hire him as your prime (only) landscape contractor, supervising his employees and his own subcontractors.


Conceptual designs (without specifications)

Design-build, including the following:

  • Plans, specifications and detail drawings
  • Grading
  • Drainage
  • Rock placement
  • Irrigation
  • Water features
  • Paving & paths
  • Low-voltage lighting
  • Carpentry
  • Planting
  • Tree-moving
  • Maintenance
  • Managing subcontractors

Geographic area

Peter is based in Oakland, California, USA. Since most design work is done at the drawing board a little added cost for travel may be justified if your project requires his unique skills.

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