Design Stages in Brief

Below is an introduction to the ‘usual’ design stages I follow, although I believe the design process can be flexible to meet the needs of every client individually.

This section is followed by a description of the process of ‘Developing Gardens,’ this covers more the personal service I offer and what I think is important when we work together.

Initial Visit – This is free meeting (if within 1 hour drive from my base, or charged hourly beyond that). We meet and I get to know you and vice versa, and we walk around the site and talk about what you would like to do, and how the space feels for you and for me. We come up with ideas for the garden we would like the create together.

Summertown - Garden Design Plan

Survey – I complete the survey myself in order to spend time getting a feel for the garden, I find this is a valuable stage in my process. I also record the information that is important for garden design (rather than a house survey, including trees and plants and levels) and I begin to make decisions. This is a good example of the personal service that I offer.

Initial Sketches – Sometimes we meet to discuss the initial sketches I have done, in order to further our ideas before moving onto the Masterplan stage.

Autocad Masterplan & Hand Drawn Visualisations – I produce a detailed, scale masterplan with information about paving, walls, levels and initial ideas for the structural planting. This plan can be built from and used to quote.

Construction Drawings – I produce cross sections and construction plans to aid the landscapers in creating the design.

Planting Plans – I design the planting in detail with every plant listed and labelled on a drawing. I can then source the plants myself, and once the landscape is finished, I can position them personally on site, with the help of the landscaper.

 Construction Management – I have a list of landscape companies I work with, and I can either find the right company for your job, or work alongside a company you already know. I offer is to consult throughout the construction process, describing details, and discussing the job at regular intervals on site, making decicions. I order specific materials and plants and make sure the job is built to last many years. My hands on experience building landscapes for 15 years, has given me a unique insight into combining my skills as a designer with practical knowledge of how to achieve the highest quality outcome for your landscape works.

 How we Communicate throughout the process – It is also important to know that within each of the stage listed above, there are opportunities to meet and discuss thoughts & ideas.


Changing Places – What is it to develop a garden?

When I reflect on this process which I have undertaken many times, I think about how, it seems to me that the skills one offers as a garden designer are not all visible.

There seems to be something that happens when we change gardens which I believe is about the care we put in at every stage.

Moving Forward – What do I offer? A personal service involving care and consideration.

When I work with you in your garden, I care about the work being done well, the design having the right function, shape, and feel, but also the details of how the work is done.

We consider which plants will work in which space, we prune things that are already in the garden in a considered way, caring about how the plant will develop, we often cut right back to prioritise the long term effects of our work, instead of ‘The Quick Fix’, and so in every way we are creating and transforming the space, but with care at each stage. This is what I really offer. The design is only the beginning, but every stage is considered with care and dare I say it, love.


When we do construction, I prepare detailed useful drawings, and I consult with the landscapers and talk to them about the basic concepts and how the construction drawings relate to the site, we do some marking up together and look to make final adjustments. Then during the job we work on the details together, talking and redesigning certain small areas to allow for the way landscapes are so unregular, to make the visual details excellent, to give the functional details longevity, so the garden will last many years into the future, we are at all stages caring for and considering the garden.


I offer to buy certain materials, because I can personally go and see the stone for the walls, or the bricks, and bring you samples. I source the plants and trees and I can go and choose certain elements such as large trees myself, I offer to source the highest quality soil and turf, so the job is done correctly.


When I do a planting plan every plant is detailed in every place, but when I place the plants by hand I adjust that arrangement for the real three dimensional space, once the plants are in the ground, we adjust again for those that may have slightly moved out if their prime position during planting, in time we replace and move certain plants so the garden can find its way.

Not everything in a garden can be controlled nor should be, and plants and trees continually surprise me with how they behave differently from the rule books.

After the work is finished

Long after the initial garden works are complete, I am available and often continue to meet my clients to offer advise, and work along side them, in how to take care of the garden, how to make adjustments and consider new developments in the future. In November 2019, I saw Monty Don talk about Long Meadow, his own garden, at the Royal Geographical Society. It was obvious from his talk, that he is a designer and a gardener, not fixed by an idea, certain elements remain the same (we build the paths and terraces to last over the years), but over the years the garden develops. I see time and again how my clients are infused with a passion and enthusiasm for gardening because of the transformative effects of developing gardens, and I am looking forward to working with you in the future, and continuing to work with existing clients.

I hope to meet you about your garden soon. Please call me to discuss an initial consultation. 0795 178 1577

Doug Holloway – Spring 2020