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Scoping Landscape Design: How to Plan a Landscaping Project

Between the designers, the crew, the supplies, and the customer, there are a lot of moving parts when planning a landscaping project. And the only way you can succeed at the juggling act is having a plan. 

For some landscapers, planning is their entire business practice. As Glenn Curtis, owner of Plantenance Landscape Group, said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

As part of his planning, Curtis developed what he calls “the scope of work.” It includes everything involved in the landscaping project, so everyone knows what is needed and expected.

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What Is the ‘Scope of Work’?


For Curtis, the scope of work is a way to offer clear expectations to his customers. That way, they know exactly what they’re getting and what they’re paying for.

“The last thing we want is a disappointed client at the end of the build,” Curtis said. “We push a lot about client experience, which is very big for us. A lot of clients come back because they’re not only very satisfied with the end result, but they’ve had a great client journey.”

To complete a project successfully, the scope of work should include:

  • Project timeline
  • Client approvals
  • Landscape design
  • Budget for the project and materials

With clear expectations set, your project is set up to avoid roadblocks.

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A Detailed Project Timeline

Setting a timeline is the first thing you should do when a customer signs a landscaping agreement. Create an agenda that includes:

  • When the first draft of the design will be completed
  • When revisions will be done
  • When the supplies will be ordered
  • The first day shovels are in the ground
  • When the project is expected to be finished

Having this timeline is important because customers want to know the project is moving forward and will be done on time. Timelines also help you keep track of all the little intricacies of the landscaping project.

“It helps us coordinate the whole build process,” said Curtis. “Without it, we would be seriously lost. So, everybody is on the same page, and everybody knows what they have to build, where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there.”

Getting Customer Approvals


The customer should approve your concept and timeline to ensure it fits their schedule and lifestyle. This is an important part of the scope of work to ensure the customer is getting what they want.

Curtis said getting a customer’s stamp of approval is a crucial step. The landscape must suit a client’s lifestyle, and getting approval:

  • Saves the designer’s time and cuts down on revisions
  • Helps bring the project close to a customer’s budget
  • Give the designer and the customer collaborative creative freedom

“We can’t go and build something unless we know that we’re building something that makes sense for their lifestyle,” said Curtis. “We definitely sell value, and the clients can see it, approve it, and it helps us settle the value to the client.”

Working With the Landscape Design

With a timeline in place and customer approvals in hand, the landscape design begin. This is a critical step for Curtis and his team.

The perfect landscape design sets the tone for the rest of the project and determines everything from what supplies are ordered to the final budget. It’s essentially the project’s blueprint.

For Curtis, the design helps his team define the entire process for the build, including what is done in-house and what might be subcontracted out. It’s the guide that shows Curtis how to get to the finish line.

For the customer, the design is the visual they need to see the final project and have clear expectations for the result.

Without the design, there can be no final approval, final budget, or calculation for materials. It’s a critical part of the scope of work.

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Budgeting Out the Entire Landscape Project Plan


Another critical element is the budget. This isn’t just what the customer can afford. Budgets outline where all the money goes so the customer knows the costs.

Showing the customer where you’re spending their money offers more clarity into the project and sets clear expectations for what they are getting for their money.

“There’s no way we can create a detailed budget without having the drawing and it being approved,” said Curtis. “Then we can calculate materials, send it off to suppliers, and get accurate takeoffs. It makes sure the customer feels they got great value and it’s not overpriced.”

Curtis refers to budgets as investment packages. A good budget gives a detailed breakdown of the customer’s spending. When coupled with the approved design, the customer is more invested in the outcome rather than haggling over the cost specifics.

The Scope of Work Creates Clear Expectations From Start to Finish

A detailed scope of work provides clarity into the project. It’s important to establish clear expectations early and again throughout every step of the process. This way, the customer sees the value of what you’re bringing to them.

The scope of work also establishes a customer journey, which ultimately helps their experience through the project. The better the experience, the more the customer will return or recommend your services to others.

Since establishing his scope of work plan in his own landscaping company, Curtis said his customer satisfaction has grown. He has also seen his business grow through referrals.

You can start your own scope of work by using DynaScape Design to build a landscaping concept. Book a demo with us today to see how our products can help you deliver a detailed scope of work on your next landscaping project.

About the Author
Natalie is a Director of Product Development for DynaScape. She’s been working with spatial software applications for over 20 years. If she’s not solving problems, you can find her outside—running, working in the garden, or on a bike.