Landscape Planning Checklist

Men laying new hardwood flooring

List all problems that need to be solved and tasks to be accomplished and prioritize the list. Talk about this list as a family before meeting with the landscape designer.

Decide the scope of the area that needs work. Will the focus be mainly on the front yard, the backyard, a patio space, drainage issues, etc.?
Establish your needs for the area. Will it be used solely by the family, or will you often be entertaining guests outdoors? How many people are in your family? Are there children? How many guests will you typically entertain?
Make a list of your landscape likes and dislikes, including both plants and hardscape materials.

Go through magazines or photos of other landscaping jobs to pinpoint things you want to see in your own landscape. Picking out the common themes in the landscapes you like most will help you decide what kind of look or style you should try to create.
Decide what amenities and special features you would like incorporated into the design, such as a gazebo, pool, outdoor fireplace, deck, fencing or water feature.
Look at the long-term. Plan at least a year out. Large projects, like swimming pools, take time.
Come up with a preliminary budget. Budget for the immediate work and the overall plan. Decide how much you can invest in the project short- and long-term.
Make sure you have a site plan. You will need an accurate survey of the property in order for a professional landscaper to create a plan. The survey will show not just property lines, but also setbacks, easements, right of ways, etc.
Get a very detailed estimate. This will help you make informed decisions about what things will cost and how each part of the project affects the overall plan and budget.
Be flexible. Even if you have a very clear picture of what you want, dont dismiss a great idea (yours or a landscape professionals) just because it wasnt part of the initial plan. Also, be prepared to handle unexpected delays and problems that may come up.

Tips and checklist compiled using information provided by Rick Barnes, Nature Scapes Inc.; Zak Campbell; Jenny Hardgrave, Simply Flowers Inc.; Bruce Holliday, Pike Family Nurseries; Mark Hutcheson, Hutchesons Horticultural Company; Eric King, Piedmont Landscape Contractors LLC; Mark Schisler, Legacy Landscapes Inc.; Pete Wilkerson, Scapes LLC; and Mary Kay Woodworth, MALTA.

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