← Back to All Blog Articles

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Shafer Landscape Design Process – from start to finish

As a client the most important thing to remember when hiring a landscape designer is to know that this is your garden and it is your chance to express who you are, from start to finish.  By using our “Shafer Design Landscape Design Process”, we will ensure you are proud of your garden for years to come.


What is your landscaping brief?

Thinking about what you want, and bringing your brief to your designer is the first step in the design process. To develop your ideas, we recommend the following:

  • Looking through books and magazines
  • Trawling sites like Pinterest, ArchiPro or Houzz
  • Visit gardens to try and develop a sense of what expresses your taste the most
  • Read landscaping blogs – You might want to visit our other blogs on “creating style” and “the garden as a room

What’s important to you?

As designers we will ask you lots of questions and try to understand what will work best for you. Our job is to provide you with expertise and experience but not to impose our personal style onto you. We should be guiding you towards your individual garden creation, not doing it for you.

First steps – “the Conceptual Design”

After our initial visit with you, we get create a bespoke fee proposal including a brief which outlines your needs. We use this brief as a directive throughout the whole design process. We also include in our fee proposal letter, indications for how much our services will cost you for your personalised landscape design.

Our first job is to complete a site measure and a site analysis.  Along with the measuring, we will look at soils, sunshine, site levels and features. When we feel we understand the site we begin our concept sketch design.  This conceptual sketch contains our raw thinking and a design that is workable in reality but not yet formed as detail. We like to present this to you at an early stage so that we can check in with you and get feedback and adjust the concept as necessary.

Once the concept sketch has been finalised, we can request early cost estimates (if required) and start introducing you to contractors or builders.

Landscape Design process, The Shafer Landscape Design Process – from start to finish

What are “Detailed Plans”?

To realise the end result in the best possible way, the concept needs detailing into working drawings.  This means we are working with you to choose paving and materials. We produce dimension drawings, paving layouts, lighting and drainage details.

We detail any built structures and make notes for builders regarding finishes and materials.  At this point in the process, we will also provide drawings for building and resource consents, if needed for swimming pools or structures.  Please check out our  swimming pool blogs for more detail about swimming pool design.  Often engineers and other consultants may be needed for this stage of the design.  We all work as a team to provide the necessary information for building your garden.

By this end stage you should have contracted builders for the hard landscaping elements such as walls, structures and paved surfaces. We can help you with recommendations it’s helpful to you.

Landscape Design process, The Shafer Landscape Design Process – from start to finish

Landscape design plan showing the front garden planting and driveway


The final piece – “Planting Plans”

We like to leave the planting plans until late in the process to adjust for the inevitable changes that happen along the way. Once again, we want to find out your tastes in plants and make a list of your likes and dislikes.  Following this discussion, we then develop plans that will create structure and beauty through all seasons. Often we employ a specialist garden company to plant the garden as they have different skill sets from a hard landscape contractor.

Throughout the building and planting of the garden we like to supervise and advise on any developments in the building process. This way your project reaches its full potential.

Landscape Design process, The Shafer Landscape Design Process – from start to finish

The finished project, following on from the plan above.


We find that the best results are in the gardens where we are involved in from start to finish, the complete “Shafer Design Landscape Design Process”.