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Design Process

    Design Consultation

    The journey normally starts with a garden design consultation visit by one of our designers to meet with you, at your garden/site, whereby we can begin to understand your overall objectives for your garden, and start to develop a written design brief.  Following this meeting we will email you with a Design Fee Proposal and written preliminary design brief for your approval.

    1. Topographical Survey

    Once commissioned, we need a survey of your garden before starting our design work. For larger sites we commission an accurate site survey with our professional surveying team, for smaller sites we will conduct these ourselves. The site survey records all measurements and key features. Quoted as a separate Fixed Fee.

    2. Design Brief

    We always like to book a critical second meeting with our clients where we provide you with the best advice and direction possible to achieve your aspirations. Once the formalised Design Brief is signed off we then begin design work.

    3a. Outline Plan

    Once stages 1-4 are approved we begin the outline plan which shows the overall layout of the garden. At this stage we have not finalised material choices, levels or any intricate details of features. Once happy with the Outline Plan we commence detailed design work.

    3b. Mood Boards

    The design brief achieves much, but we also feel that a pictorial statement (such as inspiring photos) allows our clients an early insight into the visual direction that we are planning to design towards.

    4. Presentation Plan

    The final plan notes all quantities and types of materials for hardscape – calculating & noting finished levels. Bespoke features require Construction Details, non-bespoke plans will advise Landscape Contractors what to build to.

    5. 3D Visuals

    We can provide 3D visuals at an additional fee, unless included in the brief. For more complex landscape projects, we strongly advise a 3D visual, to assist with full understanding of the final design.

    6. Construction Details

    For bespoke features, Construction Details are necessary, to ensure that the feature is fully ‘worked out’ and that the contractor has an accurate design to build to. A fixed fee will be supplied for this before the detailed design work takes place.

    7. Planting Plans

    Planting mood boards are provided for large schemes whilst photographs of key Plant Species help clients recognise Latin names for smaller schemes. This plan shows exact positions of plants and a Plant Schedule (plant name, quantity and size) is always provided.

    8. Tender Documentation

    Aralia can prepare tender packs so that comparable quotes can be secured from multiple landscape contractors. If we are undertaking a Design & Build project, then Aralia will provide both the tender pack and the final quotations.

    9. Lighting Design

    We very much recommend that a lighting scheme is designed to support and enhance the overall landscape scheme.  A well-lit garden can provide significant pleasure, and really extends the viewable time that your garden can be seen.

    10. Irrigation Design

    Again Aralia urge our clients to allow us to design (& install) an irrigation system to ensure that the investment made into your plants is protected.  Without adequate and regular watering, your plants cannot establish to their best potential, and in worst case scenarios this can also lead to a high rate of plant failures.  Think of an irrigation system as a good insurance policy!

    11. Costing (Hard & Soft Landscaping)

    Once all plans are signed off we start costing the full build (hard & soft landscaping) to provide you with a Fee Proposal which is a fixed price (unless changes have been requested). We recommend a contingency of circa 5% is included for peace of mind – you never know what might be found/dug up once a garden build commences!  In our experience invariably something unexpected arises during the build process.

    12. Additional Consultancy

    If you need us to attend meetings with other parties, such as planners, freeholders, architects etc., which have not previously been defined in the scope of our works, then these activities will be billed separately at our current hourly rates (available upon request).  Alternatively, on large projects you may wish us to advise only, on other areas of your garden/estate, and again this can be provided on a time fee basis.

    13. Additional Services

    We are used to working with other specialist consultants such as structural engineers, drainage consultants, arboriculturists etc., Aralia are more than happy to handle the co-ordination and liaison of all of these activities to ensure that the project runs smoothly, and to invoice for these costs alongside our own, thus less hassle and paperwork for our clients.

    Construction of Hardscape

    If Aralia are providing a Design & Build service, the one of our designers will regularly attend site to ensure all external works are carried out to our detailed plans and high standards. If using your own contractor, please let us know in advance.

    Project Monitoring

    If you have elected to appoint an alternative landscape contractor for the hardscape build, then we can still work with you to monitor the works on your behalf should you wish.  A schedule of visits would be estimated together with a separate fee proposal for this work.

    Construction of Soft Landscaping

    Aralia prefer to provide a full Design & Build service for all Soft Landscaping works. Once we have an approved Planting Plan and an agreed budget, we can manage the whole process from plant sourcing, ordering, deliveries, and installation. Ground preparation is also fundamental to the success of plant success, and we therefore as a preference also like to prepare all planting beds if we are executing the installation.


    We can provide a written landscape maintenance plan (additional charge) for yourself, or to pass to your gardener. Depending on the site location we do also offer a Maintenance programme.

    Final Words

    We aim to provide a highly professional yet flexible service, if there is anything not covered here that you would like advice on, then please do ask, we may well be able to help you.

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