Having a professional landscape design is one of the smartest investments you can make before starting construction on your outdoor space. But what good is a plan if you can't interpret it?
If you aren't used to reading landscape plans, they can seem foreign at first glance. However, they are actually quite simple and easy to understand once you know the basics.
So let's look at what a landscape design consists of...
The site layout is the main image on the landscape design that shows an overhead view of what the landscape will look like once it has been installed. It is a layout of all the plants, walkways, patios, retaining walls, and any other landscape elements that are included in the plan. The site layout also includes the house or any other structures on the property.
The site layout is useful for seeing how the size, shape, and location of different landscape elements and for showing how they will be placed in relation to each other. For this reason, the overhead view, as opposed to 3-D or other types of perspective views, is a very effective tool to use for actually building the new landscape. Using an overhead view design gives the installer a much more accurate depiction of the designer’s intent, and thus results in a landscape that is true to the combined vision of the landscape designer and client. The site layout also comes with a Landscape Legend, which gives you an insight of the different materials that may be used in the design, as well as the count, number or square footage of different elements.
The downside is that it can be hard for some people to visualize how the overhead view will translate in real life. We suggest taking the time to look closely at each area of the site layout. Examine the plant and hardscape placement, and use the other sections of the landscape design (plant key, notes, etc.) to help build a full picture in your mind of how it will look in real life.
The plant key tells you what plants are being used and where they will be placed. Each type of plant in the site layout section of the plan has a symbol. That symbol corresponds with an identical symbol on the plant key. You can match the symbol for the plants on the site layout with the symbol on the plant key to find out what each plant is called.
Besides seeing the names of each plant, the plant key also tells you the number and size of each plant. This is critical information that is needed for ordering the plants, but can also help you imagine how the landscape will look when it is newly installed. For example, if the plans call for mostly 1 gallon plants, then the new landscape will initially look less grown in than if the plans called for mostly 5 gallon plants. Of course, this difference in plant size also corresponds to the overall cost of the landscape since larger plants cost more money. It’s important to consider plant sizes that balance your needs and budget.
The plant key and site layout are closely linked and your eyes will often dart back and forth from each section as you study your landscape design.
The sidebar contains a few different sections. At the top is GreenLife's logo and motto.
Moving down the sidebar is a section with information on any revisions that have been done, a compass arrow to help orient you, and details about the property. There is also a scale that designates how the dimensions on the landscape plan translate to the dimensions in the real landscape. The scale can be used to find out the size of the different landscape elements by converting inches into feet.
By understanding what each section of the design is for, you can see how they all play a role in helping you interpret the design. Studying each part independently while looking at the design as a whole will give you an overall picture of what your landscape will look like and show you how it will meet your needs for the space.
When looking at the design, it can also be beneficial to try to picture yourself walking through it. Zoom in and imagine yourself there, looking at the plants, seeing the patio or walkway under your feet, noticing the placement of all the different aspects of the landscape. Can you imagine the textures and colors of the plantings? What does the landscape look like from inside the house? Can you picture yourself using the raised veggie beds, firepit, or outdoor kitchen? Are the plants attracting butterflies and hummingbirds? Walking through the landscape in your mind is a powerful tool for helping you understand how it will enhance your life.
In addition to the different sections of your landscape design, your designer will often have supplemental information for you such as photos of similar landscapes after they have been installed, photos of different materials, catalogs for stone, pavers, lighting, or blocks, or websites to reference for more details.
Remember that your design will also serve as the foundation for the landscape installation. The materials and specs will be taken straight from the design to make it come to life. So having a good understanding of the plan will help ensure you get the results you want. If you are ever unsure about or need further explanation on any aspect of your design, or need help creating one from scratch, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be glad to help!