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Cascio Associates - Site Planning - Landscape Arch

If I may interject a comment or two, (or four), to perhaps make the terms for plans used above more understandable.

The landscape architect's first step should be to receive an engineer's plat of the client's property, that the client received when closing on the land purchase.

The LA might also receive, at this point or at their next meeting, a copy of the separate needs and desires of every member of the family, even the mother-in-law if she visits often - the wish lists from everyone who will use the space. All ideas should be considered at this point.

The LA will prepare a site analysis based upon the engineer's plat and survey, and the LA's observations in his walkabouts, and his visit to the zoning and planning department documents or staff regarding local codes and restrictions. He will consider views to enhance or screen, winds and neighborhood noises to enhance or block, sun angles, slopes, everything natural or man-made, above and below ground. Where do you first get a glimpse of the house on the normal vehicular approach. Where is that smell coming from? Is that a car repair shop racing motors behind that fence?

He will try to separate guest welcoming areas, pedestrian pavements etc from service areas which include vehicular pavements, utility areas including meters, A/C units, heat pumps, propane and oil tanks, backup generators, as well as routes for the repairmen and their carts, and those separate from outdoor family rooms and garden areas. Everything goes into the thorough analysis.

At the next meeting with the client, the LA presents and describes the analysis of their site for their total understanding. I find it best to include cartoons like the blowing northwest winds, the daily movement of the smiling sun. Most clients are not familiar with reading plans, so you liven it up. (It is more fun preparing it too)

Next step will be preparation of the concept plan or preliminary plan, on which the LA will conceptualize the implementation of the client's wish lists, all of them, so that it will become evident where some wishes cannot be fulfilled. It will also be beneficial to the next discussion if the LA will also indicate how the plan might evolve over the years, making it visibly clear on the plan of their property how the sandbox and swing for today can or cannot become a playfield for tomorrow. Show how a sandbox might become a gazebo, but not a soccer field from the wish list.

This is especially important where the site has been previously developed to fit the needs of a previous owner, who had no kids and spent the day in the gardens.

This is the stage where the family needs and the site analysis criterion must be resolved to then proceed to the preliminary plan for price estimation and phasing.

Once the direction has been approved, and the initial phase of work is to be performed by contractors, contract documents and a final plan for the initial phase are prepared by the LA for the competitive bidding process to follow.

A bit wordy, I'm afraid, but I hope it clarifies the process a bit. Most LA firms charge for their work on an hourly basis, so revising plans is just being more thorough in implementing the client's wishes. Time is money, but the project needs to reflect the needs of the family, so it needs to be drawn right if it is to be built right.

If the client bypasses the LA for their new site development and goes directly to a landscape contractor or a garden designer, chances are good that there will be no analysis or conceptual stages.

OF COURSE, you and your family can do the analysis yourselves. You can do the wish lists and concepts yourselves. Get involved in your future folks.

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Plan-it Earth Design

Great recap of the process.

In my practice, and in my experience, landscape designers do indeed spend time doing a proper site analysis and melding that information with the needs and desires of the client prior to creating the first round of concept plans.

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Urban Oasis

Yes, I would agree with that.

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