Whats involved in designing a Landscape with the Phillip Withers team.

Here we will touch on the general process, how long does it take and what’s involved. 

We hope we can make the idea less daunting and can give people an understanding of how valuable an investment it can be.

Where to start? 

Start by making contact with a landscape designer/architect you feel a connection to, whether its us or another firm.

When making contact its best to just send through a brief description of your intentions via email or call if you have a query. 

It’s just important to get everything ready as it will make it a smoother process for you. The things you’ll need are an accurate survey and house plans in most cases for a residential home. It’s also worth just starting to think about a list of requirements, getting some photos together of what you like to help describe this to the design team and considering your budget. You don’t need to know all of this accurately at the start, and don’t be conscious of being off target of what things cost, it’s our role to help guide you.

Once you’ve made contact, you’ll often receive a phone call to go through briefly and book in a consultation on site, this gives the team a chance to assess the conditions, aspect and approach based on the brief. Following the consultation, you will receive a written proposal which outlines the design scope, the process from design to construction and fees associated, you then assess if its for you.

Whats involved in the process? 

Concept design –
A concept plan is the vision, including detailed drawings that illustrate our design proposal and intent. Which is then presented as an overall design of the landscape in both plan and elevation.

Town planning –
A preparation and submission of all plans taking in key guidelines based on the requirements of the related council.

Design development and documentation –
A design development set is prepared (where required) to develop the details of the concept plan and flesh them out prior to documenting. We find that sometimes smaller projects can run straight from concept to documentation.

Documentation –
Establishes a final set of details for both planting and materials ready for tender. 

Tendering –
This is where the team seeks out the most appropriate contractors to establish and confirm pricing for the build and plant procurement.

Contract Admin –
This process allows the design team to continue working with the contractor through the build, to ensure everything is delivered as planned. This also allows any design queries to be worked out considerably and thoughtfully as a team. 

Maintenance plan and plant care 
A considered guide prepared for the ongoing care and maintenance of your new garden. 

Including a set number of visits to ensure the establishment and health of your growing garden through the key initial stages.

Why it’s important to include contract admin?

We have developed our process noting the importance of contract admin, which is engaging your design team to continue post design and into the build to ensure your installation is executed as per the plan. We feel if you want to continue working with us to develop and document a landscape we ask for commitment to contract admin also to ensure that the integrity of the landscape that we have helped define is not lost.

It also ensures that all items are checked off prior to delivery and then if there are any grey areas that they are dealt with by the design team to ensure there are no afterthoughts. We find that one afterthought can lead to a list of changes and its so important to ensure the design is not lost as it comes together.

We also find there is a lot to say for an artists impression and there are always extra decisions to be made onsite such as placement decisions that can often be affected by the simplest of considerations, such as the difference between a shape of a rock, colour of a batch of timber or growth of plant.

How long is it going to take?

Initial planning (3-4 months minimum)
Allowing for a planning stage is paramount to undertaking a landscape design properly and based on our standard residential projects we feel there should be an allowance made for lead time. (This varies so it’s best to just keep this in mind). Then time for a concept plan to be completed and then at minimum a documentation process (where design development in not required). This allowance generally is a minimum 3 months and can be slightly expedited if the clients are active at getting information back to the team. We usually state to allow for 6 weeks minimum for a concept plan depending on our lead time to get started. However we can usually come and perform a site analysis with the team within this time to commence proceedings. For larger residential and commercial projects time allowance would be extended to minimum 4 months.

Allowing for approvals (3 months minimum)
Projects that require town planning, permit requirements or other approvals fall into a seperate category and take into consideration lead times by other governing parties. These type of projects require a minimum 6 weeks and more often than not 3 months.

Contract Tender and build (1-3 months minimum)
Allowing lead time for contractors pricing is an important part of the journey, we find that it is critical to give time for our consultant group to create a thorough costing consideration. We find 1 month is usually sufficient for this process. Once a contractor is booked in, there is usually further lead time of 1-3 month minimum prior to starting a standard residential project.

Plan for Establishment (3 months minimum)
Its’ important to consider the initial stages of plant growth. As a part of our process we like to offer a care package that includes a plan for establishment which ensures healthy growth for your garden. This will be a very important stage to ensure the environment settles and plants take root and ensures issues do not form early and change the shape of the landscape at the outset. A smaller project to incorporate a full design process and build would be looking at a minimum 8 month timeline to commence establishment period and a standard project going through approvals should allow 3 months minimum on top of these projections. Often 12 months minimum for a standard project would be more specific if it is not a smaller softer landscape.

Costs & Investment

Projects tend to start at a minimum $50,000 for a small garden for design and construction, and are generally more towards $100,000 minimum. A very small project may be best to work off a concept plan to ensure value management, rather than going through Documentation.

A garden with a full scope of works on a more general sized 500 sqm block would generally require a concept plan, documentation and contract administration and would generally require a minimum $400 per sqm.

Even if you’re working with a lower budget, it’s still worth reaching out to a designer and asking what’s achievable. Every design firm will offer secondary options such as a plant board in our case which gives customers who want to focus on planting an option  Considering just planting out a garden will give a much lower sqm rate which can be dependant on the size of the plants.

Having your landscape designed can be a great Investment for both your property and your wellbeing. Not only will it create and enjoyable environment in the short and long term a well designed, implemented and established garden can have great benefits on your health, extend your living space and add property essence and value.