5 Steps to a Great Landscape Design Process at Your Bozeman, MT Home

Written By: Mason Shaffer

Nov 12, 2019 3:17:36 PM

Making the decision to get started with a landscape project is an exciting endeavor. No matter what the space you are having built, you are beginning a journey of taking ideas and turning them into a reality. 

Of course, you want to be sure that everything is built right and the fact is, that all starts with design. Landscape design is the very first step in the process and a truly critical one. 

But if you’ve never had a landscape project completed before, you might have no idea what to anticipate with the design process. High-quality landscape design in Bozeman, MT is a multi-step process that involves close collaboration between you and a landscape designer. 

Since this may all be brand-new to you, we’ll walk you through the landscape design and build experience step-by-step.

Why Does Landscape Design in Bozeman, MT Matter?

But first, before we delve into the specific steps of planning a landscape design, let’s explore a little bit about why landscape design matters.  At Blanchford Landscape Group, we believe that outdoor living spaces should appropriately respond to three primary elements.

  1. The lifestyle needs of the client
  2. The architecture of the home
  3. The immediate environment of the site

We believe that when all three of these factors are weighted equally and blended with sound design principles, we are able to create an authentic outdoor living experience. But this simply cannot be achieved without landscape design. In fact, landscape design is really at the heart of the entire process.

Use This Worksheet to Plan Out Your Landscape Design

residential landscape with steps, spa, and flowers

Of course, we’re not just talking about a quick sketch on a piece of paper. We are talking about high-quality design in which a trained and experienced landscape professional has spent numerous hours (spanning multiple days) to formulate a plan which will serve as a guide for creating your space.

At Blanchford Landscape Group, we are a design and build landscaping firm which means that we not only design your landscape project but we also build it. That does impact our design process and sets us apart from a company that is a design-only company (such as a landscape architecture firm) or a company that is build-only (and needs you to get the design from somewhere else; or worse, doesn’t work from a landscape design).

When we start the design process, we then take you all the way through to completion, with design involved until the very end. That means that if there are questions during the construction phase, there can be immediate design consultation. This allows the project to evolve and improve as necessary. 

For instance, in one Bozeman, MT landscape design project it became clear during the construction phase that the planned fire pit and hot tub locations should be swapped. This is a great example of how working with a landscape design and build company gives homeowners a lot of value as real-life changes can be made to ensure the project comes together the best way possible.

Beginning the Bozeman, MT Landscape Design Process 

While we cannot speak to the design process of other landscaping companies in Bozeman, MT, we can walk you through the design process that you would follow if you were to work with Blanchford Landscape Group. Our process is relatively detailed as we believe that ensuring a project comes together optimally means that no stone is left unturned. 

patio design with steps, fire bowl, flowers and chairs

There are 5 phases in our landscape design process. 

Keep in mind that when you start phase one, you’ve already spoken to us and we’ve already collectively decided that Blanchford is the right fit for your project. The last thing that we want is to waste your time beginning down this path if it’s not going to be the right fit so we always talk in advance of beginning the process. 

In addition, landscape design cost is not cheap so we want to make sure that you are investing in a process that is going to benefit you to the fullest.

Once you decide you’re moving forward, these are the five phases of a landscaping project you can anticipate and everything that is included in them.

Phase One: Program Development

This is our first in-person meeting with the client and it’s focused on talking about ideas. We ask clients to share some of the inspiration they have for their project such as images they’ve seen on Pinterest or Houzz. It is from this conversation that we will develop the design program and create a design proposal. 

At this phase, the client has not paid anything yet as we do not charge for that first meeting. This meeting is really an “idea-gathering meeting” and you can anticipate that we will ask a lot of questions. Once this is turned into a Garden Design Engagement proposal (our landscape design proposal), which includes estimated design hours, then the client would sign the proposal and we’d move into a contractual agreement for the design work.

Again, our goal is always a mutually beneficial working relationship. If it’s determined during this meeting that this is not a good opportunity to move forward, then that’s addressed. But the majority of the people that we meet with for phase one move forward with us as we had already had a previous phone discussion ensuring that we were the best fit for their needs.

Phase Two: Base Planning

Now that a proposal has been signed and we are moving forward, we will begin the landscape design process with some very technical aspects of the job. This phase does not involve a meeting but rather starts the process of gathering the information we need to formulate a design. These important steps include the following.

  • Site survey (or plan) completed and/or verified
  • Site measuring
  • Site inventory
  • Site analysis 
  • Develop digital base plan
  • Code and/or covenant review
  • Project-appropriate design research

Phase Three: Conceptual Planning

Now that we have some very important details to formulate the design, we begin functional diagramming. Right now the specifications are still relatively fluid as it is during this phase that we will once again meet with the client and make sure that the design incorporates everything that they desire with a conceptual plan presentation.

aerial view of patio and landscape in Bozeman, MT

We also leave the specifications loose as we will discuss the budget again at this stage and can make any changes the client may need. Budget is often a key factor in dictating the exact specifications of a project.

Phase Four: Final Planning

Now that we’ve comprehensively reviewed a preliminary design with the client and know exactly what changes are needed and what they want, we create a final garden plan. This phase will once again include another client meeting. During the final garden plan presentation, we will discuss final pricing and present a Garden Construction proposal. This construction proposal will be signed by the client before we move forward with the building process.

Phase Five: Landscape Construction

In this phase, we make a seamless transition into the landscape construction process. We will introduce you to the production team at another client meeting. While it’s true that this phase is more about construction than it is about design, we consider it part of our design process as design really does have its hand in all phases. That means we don’t just pass you off to the production team and disappear. We are there, ensuring design integrity throughout the entire construction process.

Blanchford Landscape crew constructing landscape

This is also important as there are times when changes become necessary. As we mentioned as an example above, sometimes when the construction is already underway, it becomes clear that a particular design change might benefit the project. 

Because we perform both design and build, which is truly an integrated force, we can handle those situations seamlessly. It’s not as though your construction team needs to try to get back in touch with the designer and piece together a change. We’re all involved and have the ability to make those on-site decisions in order to ensure that you wind up with the best possible end result.

Choosing a Landscape Design Company in Bozeman, MT

It’s important to recognize that not all landscaping companies offer such a comprehensive design process. But we feel that choosing a landscaper that does take the time to go through all of these steps will ensure that you get the project that you truly desire. 

Each step of this design process is focused on honing the design to perfection. The biggest value in high-quality design comes down to a thorough and well-thought-out plan that ensures our clients end up with exactly what they want.

Fire pit and patio seating looking over mountains in Bozeman, MT

Unfortunately, we’ve heard some horror stories from homeowners who invested their money in an outdoor living project that didn’t go the way they wanted—and so often, the problem can be traced back to an incomplete design process. When you’re walking through the process as closely as we are with the client, there is simply no room for unhappiness in the end. Anything that the client is not satisfied with is addressed long before we are actually building the project (and crossing a point where changes can no longer be made).

But beyond our comprehensive design process, Blanchford can also offer the added benefit of sticking with clients for the long-haul. Not only do we see projects through the design and construction phases, but we can even see them on to the maintenance stage. This is a big value-add for our clients who don’t want to go “back to the drawing board” and find a landscape maintenance company to now maintain their finished project. They already know and trust us and they’d rather we continue the relationship and maintain their property. This is an ideal situation as nobody knows the landscape better than us considering the fact that we just designed and built it.

Ultimately, it is our goal to offer our clients as much value as we can and we feel that our comprehensive design program along with our in-house construction and maintenance programs provides just that. But as we said early on, it all begins with design and if that isn’t completed well, the entire process is going to be problematic. Put simply, choosing a company that invests in your landscape design could be the difference between a brilliant finished project and one that falls short. 

Are you ready to get the process of bringing your outdoor dreams at your Bozeman or Big Sky, MT home to life? Let’s connect and talk about your project. Then, we can meet and begin talking about your ideas. We can’t wait for you to enjoy a beautiful outdoor living space.

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Topics: Landscape Design

Posted by Mason Shaffer

Mason has earned both a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture prior to joining our team in 2011. Outside of work, you will find Mason spending quality time with his wife and two little girls. They will likely be exploring the outdoors, camping, fishing, golfing, planting, or just playing in the dirt.