Landscape Design Is A (Long) Process

by Ben Bowen

How Long Does Landscape Design Take?

Studies have shown planning a vacation brings as much (or more) joy as the actual vacation itself. I believe it. I enjoy the process of choosing a destination, place to stay, stuff to do, where to eat, etc. For a large trip it can take months to get it all nailed down. That's a long time, but it's fun.

This complete landscape renovation, in Raleigh Hills, took about 2 months to go from initial consultation to agreement.

This complete landscape renovation, in Raleigh Hills, took about 2 months to go from initial consultation to agreement.

Landscape design is similar. Putting a design together for a client is a process. A long process. Sometimes a very long process. I can't do a design in a day and would not even want to try!

I often meet with people who already have a design for their yard, a design they don't like. How does that happen? It's the result of hiring a designer rather than collaborating with a designer. That will never happen if you work with us.

The Landscape Design Process:

The process usually starts with a simple contact- either a phone call or message through our website. If the client's project sounds like a good fit I schedule a consultation.

I generally only schedule consultations for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. This ensures I will have time each week for actually designing! During the winter I usually have openings within 3-4 days. During late spring I may not be able to meet for a week or two... or three.

The design consultation will last 30-60 minutes, depending on your project scope and talkativeness. At the end of the consultation, hopefully we both feel like the other is a good fit. If so, I will follow up in 1-2 days with a landscape design proposal. Please don't feel bad if I decline your project!

You can then take as much time as you like to consider. If you accept the design proposal, then what?

This modern landscape design, in SW Portland, only involved the front entry path and garden. The limited scope meant it only took a few weeks to get the design completed.

This modern landscape design, in SW Portland, only involved the front entry path and garden. The limited scope meant it only took a few weeks to get the design completed.

I will return within a week or so to take pictures and measurements of your site. How long before I return with the initial version of the design? Depends. On what? The size of your property, complexity of your design, and my current work load. How quickly you respond to questions I raise can also play a roll.

In the fall and winter I can have the initial design ready in 2-3 weeks. During spring and summer it will be 4-6 weeks.

A modern landscape design in SW Portland by Ross NW Watergardens

Once I have presented the initial landscape design we move on to revisions. Now we remove features you don't like, tweak ones that stay, and make any needed compromises for budget. Two rounds of revisions are usually included. I email the revisions in PDF and communication is primarily via email. These revisions happen as fast as you give me the needed feedback. 

How long does it take to get from initial design, through two revisions, to a completed design? Again it depends on a variety of factors. But it generally ranges from 2 to 5 weeks. In this phase your communication is key. If you answer emails quickly and decisively the process really moves. Maybe that's not your style. Or maybe you are on a long vacation in Patagonia. Not a problem, things just move a little slower.

Looking back at recent design clients, I find that we meet in person 2-4 times, speak on the phone 1-2 times, and exchange 75-100 emails(!) during the design process.

I enjoy being a landscape designer, with all that it entails. Does that sound like a process you would enjoy? Most of my clients do. And at the end they have a design that they love, can afford, and really works!

Wonder how other designers work? Here is my list of recommended Portland area landscape designers for you to check out (if you don't want to work with us!)