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Landscape Design



Most people can do anything that they put their minds to. The reason we are not all experts at everything is because our time is limited. We tend to be good at those things that interest us, because this is where we spend the majority of our time. A qualified landscape designer has many years of concentrated education, training, and experience behind their counsel.

The landscape design process can be both time consuming and exacting. The process requires skill, creativity, and the ability to communicate effectively with others using several different types of media. A professional landscape designer asks questions about the site and the client that an untrained person might not know to ask. These questions are the basis of the design process, and the key to the development of a proper landscape is the design process.

What is included in a landscape design project?

A couple of terms are important to identify and define before talking about our design development. A landscape DESIGN is an information gathering and problem solving “process” that is intended to bring together or define a plan for completing a project. A landscape PLAN is a communication device (iwritten, verbal, graphic, computer generated, etc.) that attempts to translate the results of the design process into a set of instructions, or roadmap, for completing a specific project. The terms design and plan are not synonymous, nor are they interchangeable.

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The process of building a proper landscape involves three distinct steps: client input, design and installation. Failure to consider any one facet can affect the successful outcome of a landscaping project. An extremely well conceived landscape cannot succeed if it is poorly installed, nor can a poorly designed landscape be redeemed by well-intended installation procedures.

The design process begins with a thorough evaluation, consisting of a site analysis and an exploration of the client’s wants and needs. Until the needs of the property and the people using it are known, they cannot be met. As a part of the site analysis, the land itself must be studied to determine if alterations are necessary to provide drainage, usable areas, and a more functional environment.

After all factors surrounding the client’s home or business and the land surrounding the home or business have been studied, the designer can start to formulate specific design concepts. The necessary terrain modifications are arranged. Shade, wind protection, screening, and other enclosures can then be provided. At this stage of the design process, it is best to make general choices, holding off on specific materials until all design criteria have been evaluated.

Once all basic determinations, such as size, shapes and environmental requirements, the aesthetic design factors can be considered. The design becomes more exacting at this point. Choices are made: a trellis or a tree for shade; a wall, fence, hedge, or mass planting for a screen; social gathering places; etc. Ground-surface patterns take form as materials are chosen and lines of demarcation are determined. Incorporating nature into the design is an integrative approach that effectively ties the elements together.


The importance of open, effective communication between the client and the designer is top priority. Effective communication allows the designer to create a plan that meets the budgetary needs of the client. The final design is a combination of the client’s ideas that are shared and the designer’s knowledge and experience. A successful design is possible only when these elements of openness are present.

The key to the development of a successful, sustainable landscape is the design process; this is the basic and founding premise on which Waterloo Landscape and Design operates.