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Landscape Designs

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by drsogr, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    I am new to the business to say the least and I was curious how everyone shows their landscape designs to their customers. Do you draw them out by hand? Is there some kind of software? Do you show them pictures of similar jobs? Or do you just do the job and hope to heck they like it?

  2. gvandora

    gvandora LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    I would say the method vary based on the scope of the job. Replacing three shrubs? Just tell them which, and maybe show a picture of the shrub. A cleanup? Show them pictures of previous work. Beyond that, drawings and photo rendering are helpful to illustrate what it WILL look like. Past pictures are still helpful though.
  3. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    Thanks for the response...anyone else?
  4. kbenvironmental

    kbenvironmental LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    Gvandora hit the nail on the head for categorizing your bids. Try to focus on a niche in the market but be willing to bid on anything you are capable of.

    I have two areas I focus on and the bid process differs greatly for both. First is what I would consider small/moderate new home installs for front and/or back yards shoehorned into 1/4 acre lots or smaller. Fist meeting I show them previous pics based on their scale. I ask lots of questions to determine what they need and want. Then I sketch out a conceptual drawing and make changes as we discuss everything involved including a rough estimate based on their budget and wish list. I return a second time with a firm bid, contract and computer drawing. They can purchase my services for just the site plan separately if they want to shop around, and receive a discount from the job price if they use me.
    For me, this type of job takes 1 to 4 guys 1 to 5 working days to complete. However, in the bid I give myself triple the estimated time because it is always better to come in ahead of schedule.

    The second type involves a much larger scope starting with 1/2 acre lots (normally 1 to 2 acres) new or scrape and scapes, substantial hardscape and grade manipulation, including hillside revegetation. Planning these typically involves permits for everything from grading to tree relocation(eg: wide loads) public right-of-ways, utility relocation. Everybody has an opinion from the architect to the city and coordinating is pretty involved. Because it can be so involved, I don't allow the homeowner to keep any drawings until they have paid for them or have signed a contract.

    For you, I would suggest buying a template for vegetation and forms at the local art shop or Office Max to sketch your drawings. Software can be good but until you learn how to use it, it'll slow you down. Sorry to say this, but when starting, you'll have to do whatever it takes to get the first few jobs under your belt. Take lots of pics at different angles of those jobs and offer every potential client a discount(albeit small) for referrals to other people they know that need landscaping.

    Be very specific on what is included in the job. List it out (eg: (15) 1gal perrenials, (5) 5 gal shrub (2) 24" box trees.) If you know what they want, list the common plant names too. Get a good plant book with good pictures to help you and your clients when selecting. Show them pictures of representative plants so they aren't surprised when you are done.

    ABOVE ALL ELSE, DO NOT UNDER BID YOURSELF! If possible, offer to beat other's written bids until you have a better idea of how the bidding process works.
  5. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I want them to pay only for what they need.

    1. Somtimes, I'm out there pointing and waving my arms, and the person down the street will think I'm swatting bees.

    2. If it's simple in concept - a sketch - why charge $200 to get it measured and on paper if it's not needed.

    3. I'm putting together a portfolia of work and material that I keep in my leather binder, and also online, and I may show a picture, and show where in the yard something can go.

    4. A full scale design plan for $300 to $1500 dollars.

    The one I'm doing tomorrow, for a neighbor that just moved down the road, is a full design for the front, but just a sketch for the back, as the back is too simple in concept. In could even be described with about 4 to 5 short paragraphs. Again, I don't do what they don't need to pay for.

  6. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    Wow! Thanks for you help guys. I would like to find a program to use, but I really don't know of any good ones. I am currently a designer by trade...althought I design internal parts for chemical towers. So I know how to use design programs and such. I can visualize things, but I can see how sometimes a simple sketch would work, and sometimes bigger models would work and such. I am sure when I begin though I will be using mostly pictures as reference and waving my arms quite a bit. Since most of the jobs I will be doing will be on a small scale. Any other pointers would be helpful. I plan on starting next season. Although I have one sod job this year planned. So I have until next spring to learn some new things.
  7. gvandora

    gvandora LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    I'm just starting to get into the design and "build" side. I found a great book that really helped me understand the design process.

    "Landscape Graphics: Plan, Section, and Perspective Drawing Landscape Spaces" by Grant W. Reid, (2002 Edition).

    Get the new addition, the old one is supposed to be very out of date.
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    A very effective, low learning curve, and inexpensive way to draw a presentable plan is using grapgh paper and circle templates.

    The graph paper should have 1/8" or 1/4" squares and your circle templates should be in fractions of inches. Take measurements of the area you are working with starting with structures or parts of the site that will reasonably fit on your graph paper. use the squares of the graph paper to represent one foot or two feet or whatever will make the plan fit on the page. Make a note that 1"=4' (if you use 1/4" graph and one square representing 1'). Then you can lightly put in circles in pencil to represent your plants, always remembering that 1"=4' (when you use the circle template to show a plant three and a half feet wide you would use a 7/8" circle...).

    I prefer to draw my plants out at the size that should be their maintained size through the life of this particular landscape rather than at maximum size or size at installation.

    When the plan is complete and penciled in, I use four different thickness black pens ranging from a very fine line to a slightly thicker one, a mederate one, and a sharpie. Use the sharpie to trace the house line, the moderate one for driveways walkways, walls, steps,..., the two finer ones can be used for your plant symbols.

    Jazz up the plant circles into symbols. The pencil circle is just for sizing. I'm sure you have seen lots of plans with different looking symbols.

    When you are done with the pens, you can use colored pencil or colored markers (pencil is safer) to color them in. I always use two colors to get light and shade. Use the lighter color in the upper left and the shade color in the lower right regardless of solar orientation on the site or the plan looks weird on paper. then put a little black outside of the plant symbol to the lower right for shadow. You will be surprized.

    To represent flowering trees or shrubs, you can use the bloom color as the light color and the foliage color as the shade color.

    Gvandora gave you a great book to reference. I second it.
  9. kbenvironmental

    kbenvironmental LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    BTW I also mark out the design on the ground with biograde paint for most customers and workers. It really gets customers excited because they can finally visualize it.
  10. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,275

    Wow biograde paint...where would you pick that up? Thats a great idea. I bet that really helps the customers.


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