Types of Design

Concept DesignPlanting DesignConstruction DetailsPermit DrawingsEnvironmental Planning

Concept Design

Concept designs are great for big-picture thinking about a property, and it is important to get the big picture right before focusing in on the details. A concept design is the perfect fit for you if you find yourself thinking or wondering the following:

We like to provide several design layout options if possible, as each will have their own pros and cons and we like for clients to be involved in choosing their preferred design. For each concept, we work through the grading (site elevations, slopes, steps, etc.) enough to confirm that the design is feasible. We also provide precedent images with options for material selections and other site features. In some cases, a concept design may be enough to hand off to contractors to construct a project. By forgoing construction details you'll save money on the design portion of the project. However, without details your design will be subject to some variability and potential surprises during construction, and you will be responsible for working out the finer details of the project (exact material choice, etc.) with the contractors.

Concept Design With Two Options and Precedent Images:
A concept design drawing with a patio and pergola on the rear of the property.A concept design drawing with a patio and pergola in the front of the property.Images showing vine-covered pergolas and shady eating areasImages of stone steps in lawn, paving patterns, gravel walkways, and a slide

Planting Design

Planting designs are detailed drawings that show plant species, size, and location.  If you are already satisfied with the layout of big picture items in your space, I can jump straight into planting design, otherwise this should follow a concept design. Each design is bespoke, based on the conditions of the site and client preference. Cost varies based on size of yard and percentage of lawn. The larger the yard and the higher the percentage that is planted vs. lawn, the higher the cost. A design for a single planting bed would be substantially less expensive depending on size.

Why so expensive? Plants are complicated. They live and die. There are so many factors to consider: height throughout the season, bloom time, foliage seasonality, bloom color, bloom duration, sun/shade preference, wet/dry preference, tolerance for pollution, urban soils, salt, client preferences, plant form, how they combine with other plants, aggressiveness, edibility, ease of maintenance... the list goes on. In essence, we're designing a community that lives, grows, and changes over time, both seasonally and yearly. We're always learning and applying our learning!

Cost of install will always be many times greater than cost of design. For the design below, cost of planting installation including demolition, bed prep, plants, and labor was estimated to be about $20,000. If the clients had been willing to do the demolition, prep the beds, and install the plants themselves, the plants would have cost $8,000, a significant savings. I am happy to work with clients to source plants for the designs that I complete.

Planting design for clients who wanted bright colors in a hot, sunny yard:
A detailed planting design for a front yardPhotos of flowers with namesPhotos of flowers with names

Construction Details

Construction details are drawings that show the fine details of how something is built- dimensions, exact materials, fasteners, etc. We have standard details for typical applications, for example a flagstone patio on concrete or stone dust. If your design involves a unique feature, we can also put those details together. Cost is based on the hours spent drawing up details, with an estimate provided ahead of time.

A custom laser-cut metal screen detail
A detail for a metal screen

Permit Drawings & Construction Management

When designs must be permitted, a permit drawing set will be developed that conforms to the formatting regulations of the municipality in question. Frequently, construction details will also be required. Cost will be based on estimated hours, which will be approved by the client ahead of time, although edits will be done on an hourly basis, as we cannot forsee how many/what kinds of revisions the permitting office will require.

In DC, we *highly* recommend you hire a permit expediter/service, the money will be *well* spent on assistance navigating the tangled bureaucratic process. This can also be advantageous in other counties depending on the complexity of the work proposed.

Environmental Planning

Environmental planning is on a larger scale than concept design. It takes a step back from a single site and looks at broader ecological relationships and connections to nearby spaces, using analysis to inform design and restoration decisions. We would love to do more of this work!

Map of priority land to protect in Lenox, MA