When Details Landscape Art first meets with a homeowner or property owner, we listen to their needs and get an idea of the size and scope of the various elements to be landscaped. One of the first decisions to be made is whether a landscape design or sketch needs to be drawn as part of a design-build project.


Not every project requires a design or sketch. If there is no large defined area, such as a lawn, or a patio or walkway, or a deck that needs to be measured and placed in a certain place, we can just ‘wing it’. We can easily estimate how many trees, plants and boulders, and how much soil and bark is needed, and worry about which plants and where to place them later. Some of our most beautiful gardens were created on the fly – we first get a feel of the space by working there for a period of time, doing the demolition and other prep work, seeing where the sun and shade is. Plants were not picked out until we we’re actually at the nursery and see what’s available and what looks good.

If it is determined that the project does requires a design, or if the homeowner is the type of person that cannot visualize a garden without seeing it on paper, then we begin the process., The first step is to measure the yard or area, and draw what we call a ‘base map’, which is a blank slate showing the residence, the perimeter of the space and all existing elements that are to remain a part of the new landscape, such as driveways, walkways, mature trees and any outbuildings. Once the base map is prepared, several photocopies are made so that different sketch ideas can then be drawn.

Details Landscape Art, a Sonoma County landscape contractor, carefully interviews each client to determine his or her lifestyle, budget, privacy issues, and any other special needs. In order to create a successful garden, the style and elements of the new landscape design must match the needs of the homeowner.

We then start drawing sketches. We may only draw one or maybe several, and then bring these rough drawings to show the client. They may choose one, or if none are satisfactory, we’ll go back and redraw. We may take one and modify it. When the contractor and the homeowner start to hone in on a layout, Details will take a time out, and do a rough preliminary estimate of the cost of that sketch to make sure we are in the ballpark. If the client is happy with the sketch and the estimate, we take the sketch and start filling in the ‘details’. If not, we redraw. When the design or sketch is done, the bid is figured more exactly and there should be no surprises, since the client has seen the preliminary estimate and already knows the approximate cost of the job.

This landscape design process is open and flexible, and results in a successful landscape project for all parties.