Want a garden that packs a punch, but don’t know how to break up a boring stretch of lawn? Looking to add value to your property or need a landscape plan as part of your DA submission? The roaring success of any landscape project is often determined by the amount of prior research, planning, preparation and importantly, the input and expert advice from a qualified Landscape Architect.

More than just a few pretty pictures and lines on a bit of paper,  Landscape Architects are like visual communicators. They can help you save time when it comes to installation, money, and tie together all of your garden ideas into a neat and visually appealing package. 

Worth the investment? Absolutely… and we’re here to explain how a Landscape Architect can help you achieve your ultimate #gardengoals and potentially avoid a few roadblocks along the way.

Help! What is a Landscape Plan?

garden set out landscape concept plan with firepit timber seating and spa area

Image Credit: Shaw Landscape Group Design; Louis Giffin

Much like a house or floor plan, a landscape plan, typically created by a Landscape Architect or Designer is essentially a 2D or 3D visual representation of a garden. It can include turf, plants, edging, and steppers, as well as a set-out of all hardscape components such as retaining walls, stairs, decks and paving. Lifestyle objects, like whimsical water features or funky fire pits, may also make an appearance as part of an overall landscape plan.

Benefits of a landscape plan? You-betcha! There are aplenty…

#D landscape design concept

Image Credit: 3D Landscape Design Montage by Louis Giffin; Landscape Architect

If we had a dollar for every time we heard a client say “I can’t visualise how my new garden will look?” or “I don’t know where to start in my new garden?”… we’d be rich!

There are a number of benefits for getting a landscape plan created. Helping to conceptualise your garden before installation, maximising space and adding value to your property are the BIG ones!  A Landscape Architect will put ‘pen to paper’, AKA use a super technical CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, to cohesively bring together your needs and wants to create your landscape plan, while also adding in their own creative flair.

Ever heard of sun mapping? Well you have now… A Landscape Architect will analyse the conditions of your environment. From the amount of sun (or lack thereof), proximity to the ocean (insert salt-tolerant plant pallet), to nearby waterways or major infrastructures. This information is key and will help determine what elements are going to best suit your new garden. Leaning on experts who have a sound knowledge and a clear understanding of the ‘lay of the land’ is important. It will not only save you time and money, but also ensure the longevity of your new garden landscape.

Is a landscape plan required for my project?

backyard oasis design by outhouse design landscaping

Image Credit: Outhouse Design

In some cases yes, in others, no. Aside from all of the obvious benefits of having a Landscape Architect create a beautiful landscape plan, Council may actually require you to submit one. More paperwork *rolls eyes* – we get it! 

Depending on what category your project falls under e.g. CDC (Complying Development Certificate) or a DA (Development Application), the submission of a landscape plan may be deemed a necessary part of your approval process. Simply put, Council may want to see your ideas and proposed scope of works in the form of a scaled landscape plan. This is to ensure it meets building/safety codes and doesn’t negatively impact on your neighbour, or the greater environment. 

On the flip side, minor and low-impact landscape works such as the installation of turf or plants will fall under ED (Exempt Development). This means, no landscape plan or council approval is required *Phew*. 

So if you’re renovating or building a new home, it’s good to have a clear understanding of what’s required of you early on in the development stage. Don’t forget, the likes of paving, decking, retaining walls and other hardscape structures can be considered as ‘building’. This may fall under a CDC or DA development.

Top Tip: Engineered drawings must be submitted for Council approval if you’re looking to build a retaining wall over a certain height or a deck greater than a certain size. Check out our blog for more information on council approval and landscaping. If in doubt, always speak to your developer, builder, landscaper or local council for advice. 

What are Council Development Control Plans (DCP)?

#D sketch of people in streetscape landscape architect

Image Credit: 3D Concept Montage by Louis Giffin; Landscape Architect

Imagine the picturesque streets of Calderwood. Trees are in abundance, plants are blossoming and streetscapes are neatly in-tact… but this doesn’t just happen by coincidence. This ‘look’ has been closely guided by councils’ Development Control Plans. So what does that mean and why should I care? In a nutshell, it prevents overdevelopment and takes into consideration as number of factors. These include the environment, green space ratios, biodiversity, culture, heritage and visual character. If you’re planning to build or renovate and haven’t given landscaping a second thought, it’s probably time you seek advice from your local council and speak with a Landscape Architect.

What if I have protected tree species on my property?

man in tree chopping down limb on ropes

Photo Credit: Bohmer’s Tree Care

Before you call in the big guns for demolition, be sure to identify the tree species on your property. And more importantly, whether you need approval to remove them. Most council websites have a protected tree register, detailing indigenous and native species which are to be protected and not removed. Do your due diligence, because big fines can be issued for any breaches. A Landscape Architect can help you design garden workarounds and/or even create solutions if protected trees are in abundance on your property.

Do landscape contractors submit plans to Council on your behalf?

landscape tradesman on-site at residential construction project

Photo Credit: Shaw Landscape Group

Some landscaping companies do, however, most tend not to take on this responsibility. Ensuring the client liaises directly with council, will rid of any communication breakdowns (Chinese whispers are a hard no from us). This generally ends up being a quicker and more efficient process for everyone involved. 

Are you ready to achieve your #gardengoals and need help bringing your vision to life? Get in touch to find out how our team of experts can help you design your new garden.

Header Image: 3D Landscape Concept Montage by Louis Giffin; Landscape Architect