‘There is more than one way to skin a cat’ is a saying which, apart from being a little macabre, is as true for garden design as for any other form of design work and for the management of projects in particular. However to avoid wasted effort and time it is essential that the client and the designer work in tandem to achieve the client’s objectives. Of course the designer is the expert but as the early project stages progress the client’s imagination and enthusiasm will blossom. Good communication between the parties is therefore a prerequisite to ensure correct interpretation of the brief.
First, there should be an initial meeting with the client on site. This ensures that the designer gains a real feeling for the topography of the site as it is and also an opportunity to take into account various extraneous factors in the adjacent areas of the property to get a feel for what might and might not be appropriate. Detailed questions and answers between the parties at this stage will help form basic concepts which are essential and notes of these discussions need to be recorded for the sake of both designer and client and then form the basis of future preliminary design drawings and ideas.
In the case of very large projects it is probable that a full topographical survey is undertaken particularly where extensive ground works for hardscaping is required.For the more modest project the designer may have access to sufficient information from the client, on soil structure for example, to allow him/her to make their own judgements. Once these preliminaries are complete it is the responsibility of the designer to produce concept drawings which will form the next stage of the project and a basis for further considerations by both parties.
Using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software it is possible not only to produce 2D drawings which most people are familiar with but many have difficulty visualizing. So the utilization of extensive 3D modelling which brings all the concepts vividly to life is where the reality of the design starts to become more understandable in the mind of the client.
It is at this stage that any late amendments to the design are ironed out with the client and definitive plans are then produced from which an accurate costing analysis can be made.
Dependent on the scope of the design the designer may undertake the installation work or alternatively they may recommend small contractors who have completed projects successfully and to quality standards. For much larger projects it is likely that detailed drawings will be sent out to a short list of major horticultural contractors who will be invited to tender for the installation.