Initial meeting:

Our first visit is one of the most important steps in the process. For the client, it’s the starting point in articulating your vision and turning it into reality. You show us what you have to work with, and then you tell us what you’re dreaming of. Most clients collect pictures and use notes to help explain what they’re looking for – no scrap of paper or rough sketch is too small a detail. We’ll also provide the Private Gardens portfolio, with full-color pictures of assorted completed projects, to help assist and inspire you in “fleshing out” your creative vision.

At this time, it’s our job to give you an honest appraisal of your situation, including existing architecture, sun exposure, plants already on your property, and your budget. We’ll let you know how close we can come to translating your ideas, or come up with creative solutions that satisfy you and your needs.

At this important stage, we’ll send you a detailed proposal that outlines the scope of the work and the related costs for design fees.

Site plan preparation:

An accurate site plan is a crucial part of the project. If you do not have a site plan from previous professional landscaping or architectural services performed on your property, you will need to obtain one from a licensed civil engineer or an “As Built” measurement company. Private Gardens can also prepare one for you.

Concept sketches:

We start with rough concept sketches to show how we’re planning to bring together all of the elements we discussed in the preliminary meeting. This gives us the opportunity to refine or change certain ideas of construction materials and plant selections, and it gives you a clearer vision of how your garden will complement your home. During this phase, we also provide rough construction numbers: we often make additional refinements and adjustments to help us ensure your project fits within your budget.

Construction Drawings vs. Preliminary Landscape plans:

Construction drawings detail the individual elements of the project on multiple sheets, where each sheet represents a specific element or phase of the project, and we typically separate all hardscape from softscape portions. These sets of drawings often include a construction/drainage plan, construction details, an irrigation plan, a planting/lighting plan and specifications.  If structural engineering is required, it will be coordinated by the Landscape Architect as an additional service.  This more detailed and comprehensive document provides guidelines for the individual contractors who are responsible for each separate part of your project, including…masons, pool builders, and landscapers.

Occasionally, instead of Construction Drawings, we’ll use Preliminary Landscape Plans. These work best for smaller jobs, such as a front yard or if only a single area of property is involved, or for projects on tight budgetary constraints.

Bidding process:

Contractors are invited to view the project and bid on the plans, and the client makes the final decision. Private Gardens has a select roster of contractors we’ve worked with and trust; we can refer them, but we’re also happy to work with outside contractors and vendors of your choosing.

On-site observation:

Even though the project is now in the capable hands of your contractors, we arrange for periodic observation to make sure our design is followed, and to troubleshoot any potential issues so your garden blooms from the very beginning.

On most projects, we’ll arrange on-site meetings at various stages of the project, including a preliminary pre-construction meeting; overseeing installation of construction materials; checking the irrigation system for coverage and equipment compliance; and finally, approval of soil preparation, plant materials and their locations.

We’ll also perform a final walk-through before all the contractors are paid in full and leave the project.


No matter the size or complexity of your project, occasional follow-up visits are recommended so we can fine-tune your new garden. We usually schedule the first visit in 90 days, for a casual inspection, and to replace plants that may have died during the landscape contractor’s 90-day guarantee period.

We also offer follow-up visits to check up on a project, either on an “as needed” or a yearly scheduled basis. Part of the reason we offer these visits is to provide any assistance you may require and maintain a more hands-on influence of the development of your garden. We also schedule these visits for selfish reasons: because we invest so much passion and heart into every project, we love seeing your new garden in bloom.