Garden Design

Garden Design Process

Initial conversation

If you feel I might be the right garden designer for you, the first step is to arrange a call.
This is an opportunity for you to:

– Give me a rough idea of what you’d like to achieve
– Explain any constraints (including your total budget)
– Clarify what level of involvement you want from me (e.g. do you also want me just to do
the garden design, or also get involved in later stages)
– Ask me any questions.

This first conversation will help us decide if we’re right to work with each other. Obviously, it is on a no-fee, no-commitment basis.

Some people prefer a site visit before making a decision, and I am happy to do this too. I
can assess the garden first-hand, hear more about what you want to achieve, and offer
some initial, top-of-head thoughts on possible options. There is a small fee for this service
– but if you commission a full design, this will be deducted from the design fee.

Following our phone conversation – or, if you opt for it, the site visit – I will issue a formal quote for the work. If you’re happy with this, we’ll draw up a contract and get started.

Initial conversation

Client brief and site assessment

Once you decide to go ahead, the first thing we need to do is formally document your brief.
I use a structured process to make sure I fully understand exactly what you’re looking for – from aesthetic preferences to how you’ll use the garden and how easy to maintain you need it to be.

At the same time I will conduct a full site assessment, as the success of a garden depends on the conditions and context. For smaller gardens, I conduct a survey myself. For larger or more complex gardens I will bring in a surveyor: this will all be made clear in the quote you receive.

Client brief

Concept Development

Now is when we start getting creative.

‘Concepts’ combine sketches and moodboards to give you an idea of directions we could take your garden in. I develop them based on my interpretation of your brief and understanding of the site. But think of them as prompts for further conversation rather than final designs.

If you’re not sure exactly what you want to do with your garden, the concepts will help you visualise and explore different options.

If you have very clear ideas, concepts are a great, low-cost way of confirming them. Every so often, clients are surprised to discover a new, even better way of doing things.

This stage of the process typically involves two ‘checkpoint’ conversations. One to review and discuss initial concepts, and one to sign off a final concept.


Layout and Planting Plans

The final stage of the garden design process is to create the detailed master plans needed to create your new garden.

There are two plans, used by different people in the next stage.

– The layout plan is used by hard landscapers, and provides all the details they need to do their work – dimensions, materials and specifications. As a rule of thumb, if it’s not alive then it’s in the layout plan!

– The planting plan, as you’d expect, provides details of the plants that will bring your garden to life. It is used to plant your garden out once any hard landscaping work is finished.

There are some other things I can provide at this stage. They are normally not included in the original quote, as we won’t know whether you need them until we have completed the concept development work. Possible extras include:

– Construction details: these are detailed plans for bespoke features – such as water features or architectural elements – requiring additional technical instructions.

– Irrigation system designs: I have extensive experience of designing and installing irrigation systems for domestic properties.

– Maintenance schedules: these provide details of how and when to care for plants, for you or for your gardener.


The diagram below outlines a typical garden design process. Details will be tailored to your specific needs.

Drop me a line if you’d like to find out more. 

From plan to reality…

The design process concludes with the delivery of the master plans. However, there are a number of other services I can offer to help you turn those plans into reality.

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to involve me in these later stages. Some clients already have their own people to do this work, others are keen to get help.

– Planting. I love planting out the gardens I design, using plants from my own suppliers and making sure they are settled and happy in their new home!

– Installing irrigation systems. I’m also happy to install an irrigation system if that’s part of your new garden.

– Tendering and monitoring. While I don’t undertake hard landscaping work myself, I can support you in the process of selecting someone to do the work and/or in monitoring the project and assuring quality.

– Follow-up care. Again, I don’t undertake regular maintenance; but I can arrange follow up visits to check everything is doing well and provide any additional guidance on getting the most from your new garden.