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What is Landscape Design?

Short answer: “The designing of landscape and associated site features in the landscape?”

Dull Answer, isn’t it.

Long Answer:

What is provided in our landscape design services? 

The services varies in scope in part due to laws of the State in which the project is located. The landscape design services we offer in Oregon, for example, entails the designing or preparation of plans and drawings for the selection, placement, or use of plants or other landscape site features except those plans and drawings prepared for providing landscape design services does not include construction details and construction specifications. We may be able to address construction details and specifications through other services we provide and addressed in the plans and drawings prepared under those services such as our building design services and in cases, we may even involve a consulting engineer/engineering firm.

Landscape design is more than just making drawings or plans. It’s not merely a drafting service. It is a service that involves designing, research, designing for compliance with various regulations and standards. Our services are obligated to delivering those services in accordance with professional standard of care.

Our landscape design services involves the following:

  • selection of plants and site features
  • placement of plants and site features
  • preparation of plans and drawings associated with the selection of plants, and site features.
  • Site features as provides in our landscape design services includes but not strictly limited to: constructed surfaces, steps, ramps, retaining walls, fences, freestanding walls, arbors, gazebos, trellises, benches, decks, fountains, ponds, waterways, pools, or other physical elements constructed or proposed for construction in the landscape. Construction services are provided by construction contractors and landscape contractors who shall be licensed as required by the laws of the state where the landscape design project is located. (NOTE: Construction details and specifications are not provided as part of the landscape design services. Our building design services may encompass and address the more technical aspects of designing of buildings or structures as outlined in detail on our building design services page or may be provided through our other services or services offered and performed by our consultants.

Our drawings and plans for landscape design services are intend for presentation or orientation purpose providing the design intend. Our drawings and plans may show: selection, placement or use of plantings and site features, drawn to scale to show the proposed site design. They may show site dimensions to illustrate design intent such as the placement, size, or style of: deck/patios, paths, freestanding walls, garden beds, arbors, trellises, seating, fences, landscape edging, low-voltage lighting fixtures, outdoor kitchens, ovens, or fire pit, steps or landings, as well as the placement or style of: steps or landings, deck & patio railings, retaining walls, ornamental water features, stormwater management features, as well as any other aesthetic characteristics not related to construction.

Our drawings and plans may as the project requires have descriptions or either plant material or plant placement, or may include selection, placement, and style of material to convey information on aesthetic intent, recommendations for soil amendment or planting mediums, guidance about design intent, maintenance requirements or instructions, and references to the requirements of the jurisdiction of authority.


Please refer to our page on Landscape Design process (currently under development)

What does our landscape design service cost?

Each project is unique. We may charge in a number of ways depending on the project. Our Landscape Design services are billed using a Cost-plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price fee with starting base fee amount, for a given scope of work outlined in contract. In estimating our fees, we utilize our Billed Hourly Rate times an estimated range of hours to perform the services in connection with the scope of work agreed to in contract. Services beyond the scope of work agreed to in contract may be charged at a Billed Hourly Rate of $160 an hour.

Regarding our Cost-Plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) with starting base fee amount:

Our Cost-Plus-Fee with Guaranteed Maximum Price (referred to as GMP below) fee with starting base fee amount is based on an estimated *range* of hours times our Billed Hourly Rate plus costs. We set a starting base fee amount as a guaranteed minimum amount but also setting a guaranteed maximum for the agreed scope of work. Work beyond or outside the scope of work agreed to in contract is billed additionally at our Billed Hourly Rate. Associated direct project costs aside from labor are invoiced such as the cost of the plans to print them, etc. Sometimes, it may be calculated into the fee but additional costs may be added.

For an example, with the GMP w/ starting base fee amount, on a given scope of work, we may estimate that the project’s scope may vary between 500 to 650 or so hours. So we have may make a floating fee starting at $160 times 500 hours with a GMP at the $160 x 650 hours. We may include a limited float beyond 650 hours like 700 hours then add any billed costs and that is our GMP. The GMP in this case may be at $160 x 700 hours plus billed costs. The fee is calculated when we determine the scope of work for the contract at the on set of our services.

NOTE: Cost-plus-Fee with GMP & starting base fee amount is for the design stage services from Pre-Design through Construction Documents/Submittal Document phase. Construction Stage services are billed by the hour or a daily fee based on 8 hour days flat rate daily fees. Change Orders are billed at Billed Hourly Rate. The GMP is not necessarily the maximum price of our services to the client. It is simply to set a cap at a certain price for work under a given set scope of work. However, if the scope of work changes, the work due to client changing the scope of services, then we charge additionally as “additional services” because the fee is based on an initial understanding under the contract term when we begin so we have provisions in our contract  to override the GMP when the client decides to make drastic changes in their ideas especially late in the design phase so we aren’t stuck working hundreds of hours for free because the client makes major scope of work changes. We are a business, after all. Working free don’t pay the bills.

Billed Hourly Rate: Typically $80 to $160 an hour.


As shall be noted, due to the nature of our services, we record in-person and over the internet voice or video conference meetings. Additionally, we use written contracts to formalize our agreements and usually will require signatures.

Additionally, we take the privacy importantly and do not disclose the entrusted private information attained through those conversations to the public without either permission from the client or through court order or subpoena. While we are not lawyers or doctors with special legal protections, we still do our best to preserve the trust of our clients.

Agreeing to use our services including initial consultation and / or by contacting us, you are consenting to use of recording.

Additionally, we retain ALL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS to the designs we prepare for our clients. We are independent contractors (not construction contractors but self-employed/stand-alone business). We are NOT employees to clients.  Therefore, we are not a “work for hire”. We are owners of our designs. Clients’ own trademarks and other intellectual properties are that of our clients, respectively.