Generally speaking I think its a good idea to have a landscape plan, even for the small projects. The rare exception might be in the case where you’re contracting with someone who has a long standing reputation of design ability and with a style you like.
For example, two of the landscape companies I work with on my projects often work on their own jobs without detailed plans. These companies have been around for years and have well-respected reputations both for their design style and technical skills.
Typically they will work through a “general concept” and budget with the homeowner beforehand, and then create the specifics as they go.
The Benefits Of A Landscape Plan
I have always produced drawings for my projects. A landscape plan gives myself and the homeowner a clear understanding of the design vision and intent. Also, it provides information to help in budgeting and logistical considerations.
The drawing above is a simple sketch done in a proportional scale. Although you can’t take a “scale” ruler to it for measurements, there is a realistic representation of size and distance from one element to the other. This type of drawing is quick and economical to produce and is usually all that’s needed for a smaller design.
For larger projects with more detail, including construction, elevation, grading and drainage issues, I’ll always draw a landscape plan precisely to scale. There’s simply no substitute. Any additional cost related to good scale drawings is easily justified because of the accuracy and efficiency they bring to the project. And that usually helps control budget and predict a realistic schedule. Afterall, isn’t that what we all want in our home improvement project?
Regardless of the size of the designed project, make plenty of copies of the simple sketch or landscape plan. You want to be able to give them out to everyone who is involved in the job. This ensures everybody understands the intended outcome. It also minimizes the dreaded remark, “I wasn’t sure what you really wanted, so this is what I did…”.
P.S. Put your client’s name, your name and contact information on the landscape plan. This should minimize the sometimes used excuse, “I didn’t know how to get in touch with you”.
P.P.S A landscape plan helps to satisfy two major premises in running your business. Always try to reduce the number of variables and never “assume”.