Ask The Landscape Architect Expert – The Planning Process – Part One

“Without taking leaps of imagination or dreams, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.” A great quote when it comes to building your dream landscapes, and so we sat down with award-winning landscape architect, Paul Brydges, to find out why having a solid plan when it comes to landscape design, is key to bringing your vision to life.

“Without having a comprehensive plan, projects rarely finish on-time, nor on budget, and with limited flexibility for future plans”, explains Paul. “The project quality can be compromised, and important elements could be missed.” This last point is an important one, and one that often we as clients don’t think enough about; the future. “It’s very difficult to put in new design concepts, buildings, and plant life after the fact,” says Paul. “Based on budgets and timelines, the client may have a wish list for the future, and if we don’t look at these things at the beginning of the project, in the planning stages, it can be a backwards and costly battle down the road.”

When Paul and his team go into a planning session, they ask the client beforehand to think about 3 key questions and make a list of their perceived

  • Needs
  • Wants
  • Wishes

Examples regarding the “needs” portion of the plan would be practical things like proper drainage, utilizing really good soils so the plants and trees can flourish, and the “science of the design”.  While perhaps not the most exciting part of the process, it is an absolute essential piece.

The “wants” part of the plan begins to build the excitement factor, and is where the client speaks to Paul and his team about what they want to see and use in this new design. “This is where the client tells us what colours they like, if they want an entertaining space, do they want a covered area to use when the weather’s bad, or if someone wants shade? All the things a client wants to make their immediate landscape requirements come to fruition.”

The “wish” portion of the plan is where the client dreams about the future of the design. “Some clients want to put in a pool, or a hot tub, or possibly even a structure, but they’ll need to plan for the future in order to make that happen,” explains Paul. “This is where we need to design future elements that not only are placed accordingly, but also work seamlessly into the existing plan, with the overall effect being that everything’s been there from the very beginning.” As Paul would say, “The environment is working ‘with each other’, rather than against each other.”

Other elements of a concise plan are things like permits; which can be a very slow process and requires very detailed drawings, contractor availability, long delays due to weather, and other components that the client may not realize. These factors have a major impact on timelines, and budgets.

It is all these things that make the planning process fundamental to creating a stunning result. “If a design is well planned it’s easy to execute. A successful plan fulfills all the client’s needs, wants, and prepares the project to be ready for their wishes.” And successful planning is something that Paul Brydges and his team at Brydges Landscape Architecture Inc are the true experts at!



Written by: Kelli M. Maddocks  |  Photos: Brydges Landscape Architecture Inc


Author: Living Spaces

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