A beautiful garden marries the inspirations of the site with the aspirations of the gardener
A personal garden will always embody the dreams and needs of its owner. But it should also draw from the special and unique opportunities of the location, often called the 'genius loci' or 'spirit of place'. In all my designs I strive for both in equal measure.
As I have written in North Country Reflections, the foundation of every gorgeous garden is its underlying spatial design, in which the different elements come together to create a harmonious whole, so that the house is unified with the garden and the garden with the land.
Furthermore, it is the process of actually drawing the spaces and shapes on paper that unleashes the creative genie. Working at the drawing board I find design solutions arise spontaneously and new ideas, which would never have surfaced while standing in the larger outdoors, bubble up from subconscious images.
A landscape plan as a blueprint of your garden-to-be
In designing a new garden, and often when modifying an existing one, we start by drawing the shape and form of the different garden spaces in the garden-to-be in a landscape design, which becomes your guide and blueprint for implementing your garden.
A landscape design is a scale drawing or map that shows the spatial design of the garden-to-be as seen from above. It is a comprehensive planning tool that includes the shapes, positions and interrelationships of the various garden spaces, including:
the layout of the planted areas and the surrounding lawn
the design and height of all hardscape elements such as the patio or deck, fencing or trellis, paths, walls and steps,
the footprint of the house and other buildings
It also shows the positioning, mature size and shade area for trees and shrubs, both existing and proposed and, for a large property, the outline of any naturalized spaces, like a meadow or woodlands, that may surround the cultivated garden.
Creating a garden will likely require a measure of both time and money, and often the implementation is spread over multiple years. Thus a careful landscape plan becomes an investment in the future. It also allows you to compare alternatives before you dig and thus avoid mistakes that lead to costly rework later on.
Developing a landscape design
The starting point for creating a landscape design is our initial consultation. We will discuss the practical objectives which need to be met in the area that surrounds your home, as well as your dreams and desires for the new garden.
We will also discuss the design scope that best suits your needs. Some clients need a new design for a small area, such as for the front of the house, which they will implement in a single season. Other people want a master plan to guide their garden-making across multiple years.
I will also walk the site to gain appreciation of its full potential, as well as take the measurements I need to create a base plan showing the house footprint and current landscape features for the area of study. If you have copies of any existing plans available I can often pull many of the measurements from these.
From here I will develop a base plan showing the existing landscape, plus one or more conceptual drawings for your garden-to-be. We will review these together and then, based on your input, I will then create a finished landscape plan that shows the complete spatial layout as well as the position of the trees and shrub groupings.
I can also help you decide an implementation strategy, such as which parts you will do first and which you will leave for a later year, as well as provide more detailed planting plans for some or all of the beds.
Visit my garden
My personal garden is available for all my clients to visit for stimulation and inspiration. Although my garden is larger than you might want for yourself, it incorporates plenty of ideas that are readily applicable to smaller properties, including several intimate shady corners, stone steps, a mixed border, a meadow-inspired bed, a slope terraced with low stone walls, and a naturalized periphery.
Your active participation
Many people enjoy actively participating in designing their own landscapes and I welcome your input.
After I have developed the base plan and conceptual drawing I can either bring them to your home for review and input. Alternatively you can to come here to Goshen where together we can experiment directly on my drawing table with any ideas for changes you would like. At the same time you will be able to see real examples of some of the design ideas that I have included in your plan as they look in my garden.
What will it cost?
Landscape design projects vary widely in scope. Some people want to remake a small corner of an existing garden or to create a bijou garden to installed this year; whereas others are looking to develop a complex property and need a comprehensive as a master plan that may not be realized for five years or more.
Thus, after our initial consultation, depending on the scope of the project, my time needed to complete a design could be as little as five hours or up to twenty-five hours. I bill for my time, both at your site and at my drawing board at $75.00 per hour. I charge for my time to drive to and from your home at $0.50 per mile.
If you like to develop your own garden, the completed landscape design becomes your guide as you implement each step. Optionally I can also mark the outlines of all beds, lawn, hardscape and plant locations on the ground, as well as provide you with written guidelines for bed preparation and planting. Also, if you wish, I can provide the trees and shrubs shown in the plan and deliver them to your home.
As an independent landscape design consultant I do not provide implementation services myself. If you will be employing a landscape contractor to implement all or part of your new garden, you can use the landscape design to solicit bids. I can also make recommendations for landscape contractors for hardscape, soil preparation and planting, as well as acquaint them with the overall design, plus give them details for stonework, bed preparation and planting, as appropriate. Optionally I can also mark out the design on the ground and set out the trees and shrubs in their allotted spots and oversee other aspects of the installation process to ensure that the details of the design are fully met.
"I can’t believe 3 summer’s have passed since we first started planning the gardens together. I have been meaning to write to you for so long now! We’ve really been enjoying the gardens through all the seasons. They’re so beautiful."
– H.M., Rochester
"Thank you so much for the exciting landscape design. There are lots of good ideas and good measurements to guide us. We look forward to putting it all in place."
– B.K., Rutland
"Thank you for all your wonderful and expert advice in helping us create a landscape design for our property. We are thrilled with the final plans as well as all the other extremely helpful information you provided. Now on to execution!"
– S.R., Basking Ridge, NJ
"Just wanted to let you know we are off and running. Once again, thanks for working with us and delivering such a beautiful work product."
– B.I., Mendon