Garden Design Plans

Architect-style Garden Design Service

The traditional, 'architect-style' garden design service, is appropriate where significant investment (from £35,000) in a completely new garden is being considered. 

Professionally prepared drawings and images communicate the design ideas and proposals to the client and on approval, technical documents, used in the construction and planting of the new garden, may be prepared depending on the project requirements. You'll find step-by-step details of the design process on this page.

All of the gardens showcased in the Projects section are the result of Karen's clients commissioning 'architect-style' garden design services.  

Why work with a professional garden designer?

"Do we need an architect?"  Would probably be your first question if you were about to embark on building a new house or on remodelling an existing one.

The reasons for working with a garden designer are similar to those for working with an architect and include: access to inspirational ideas, solutions to challenging issues, ‘seeing’ the changes before committing to the physical reality, having someone to guide and advise you, having drawings prepared so that others can construct the changes, access to trusted contractors and craftspeople.  Karen offers these benefits to your project and she is also a plant expert. (Be mindful though, that unlike the title of Architect, anyone can call themselves a garden designer.) 

Karen is a professionally trained Garden Designer with some 20 years experience.  She holds the appropriate insurances and has been vetted by the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) and is a pre-registered member of the Society of Garden Designers (SGD). Recognition by these organisations ensure that she maintains her professional status by keeping up to date with current legislation and working practices.

Artisan hand-drawn plans: a personal connection.

"During my design training I was enthralled by the 'mark-making'; the swirl of the graphite; the permanence of the drafting ink, and the way colour and shadow helped communicate my ideas.

I've proudly maintained hand-drawing as the foundation for the exploration and artistic stages of my design process - the weaving together of my clients wishes with the reality of the site constraints and its possibilities. For me, computer aided design (CAD) is not the right tool for this stage of the design development and so my designs are presented as ink hand-drafted and coloured plans on large format paper"

My Process

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Initial Contact

Not every project requires all of the following stages, and so firstly we need to have an informal discussion to explore what you are looking to achieve and how we might work together.

If we're in agreement, a professional appointment is made for a meeting where you can introduce me to your garden, its issues, frustrations and any positive points!  Together we'll establish your priorities for the brief and draw up the scope of the design commission. A fully detailed fee proposal will be forward for your consideration. 

Design Fees are free from VAT and are usually quoted on a fixed-fee basis   

Survey Works

As soon as your order is received arrangements will be made to measure and analyse your existing garden. 

It is critical to the design and build process that dimensions and level change data is collected along with the the position of any utilities, features and trees that are to remain in the new design layout. This stage is vital to ensure that the new design will fit!  

For most projects a specialist surveyor will be commissioned, but for small and uncluttered sites the survey will be carried out in-house. 

Design Development

Now begins the truly exciting part of designing the new layout. It can get messy!  This is the primary artistic phase, the art of weaving together your preferences and all of the possibilities that present themselves as your new garden starts to emerge on the drawing board. 

As well as being the stage where ideas are explored and tested it is also when critical level changes and Health & Safety issues are addressed, along with standard planning constraints.  This can be a challenging area of the design process but ignoring these issues in the early stages can lead to complications and additional costs during construction.  

Once I am satisfied that the best design solution has been achieved I'll present a Sketch Design with illustrations and mood boards for review and agreement culminating in the production of a Design Proposal Plan.  

Selecting Materials and Products

Once you have agreed the proposals we can begin the more detailed stage of exploring and selecting the materials and any 'off-the shelf' products for your new garden.

Depending on your project, this may include: a palette of materials for the paved areas, timber for decking, water features, fire pits, arches, pergolas, summer houses, hot tubs, containers, ornaments and furniture, etc.  I will curate a selection for you and present samples, brochures and images for your consideration.  

The advantage of this service is that the ‘styling’ is consistent throughout the garden insuring a cohesive finish. Additionally, build costs will be more accurately quoted as products are specified. 

The Master Plan

This is the most complete and final ‘design phase’ drawing, which can be prepared after the proposals have been agreed and all materials and 'off-the shelf' features have been selected.

This plan will be presented to you as a scaled hand-drawing in colour which includes details of the proposed features and reference to the materials and the products that you have selected.
The Master Plan is prepared in order to communicate and record the decisions made and agreed by the client.  It contains sufficient detail for professionally skilled landscapers to begin the process of costing and possibly constructing the garden. This is particularly true for less complex projects where 'off-the-shelf' features are selected. For high-investment and complex projects requiring many bespoke features additional technical drawings and documents can be prepared.  

Technical Information for the Contractor

Additional documents can be prepared in order to provide technical information on the specifications for your new garden and how to build it as envisaged. In short, all visual decisions are made prior to the commencement of building works leaving none to the discretion of the contractor.

Most of these documents can be prepared in-house although some may need to be commissioned from other professionals, such as Structural Engineers, specialist manufactures and installers.

Not every project budget can support, nor indeed requires this level of detail. However, they are advisable if you are going to seek quotes from different contractors as they are the only way you can ensure 'like for like' comparisons.

And finally ....The Planting Scheme

When even a tiny garden can have in excess of 200 plants most clients require my horticultural and design knowledge for the selecting and artful arrangement of their scheme.  

During this stage I'll consider your preferences and your garden's many environments alongside the design direction set out on the Master Plan.

Fully detailed Planting Plans and supporting documents provide all the information required to purchase and create an irresistible, yet manageable, year round display.

Building and Planting your New Garden   

When you place a commission with Karen you are working with a design specialist whose priority is to take the time to imagine, explore and test design possibilities on your behalf.

When it comes to creating your garden Karen will introduce you to trusted and professionally skilled landscapers, crafts people and suppliers whose focus will be to turn Karen's plans into stunning reality. 

Creating a new garden is a team event! A collaborative process involving client, designer, other professionals, contractors, specialists manufacturers, suppliers and plants people all working together to create something special for you.