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Landscape Design Plans

Why do I need a landscape design plan?

Having a landscape plan created gives your garden or landscape design project a greater chance of success. More than just a piece of paper, a quality landscape plan is the end result of a considered process of thought and exploration, during which important aspects such as your style preferences, lifestyle & budget have been considered, along with local conditions such as climate and conditions.  A  professional landscape plan also acknowledges local authority rules and regulations that you or your contractor may not be aware of.  A landscape plan puts all the garden design ideas and requirements in one place. If you plan to engage a landscape contractor, a landscape plan provides them with quantities and measurements to inform your landscaping quote. That is why "Do you have a landscape plan?" is often the first question a contractor will ask you. 

What sort of landscape plan do I need?

The sort of landscape plan you need depends on the type of landscape design project you are undertaking, and how much and what kind of information you are trying to portray. 

  • If you need help with coming up with landscape design ideas for a new property or require a fresh look to makeover your existing garden, your landscape plan will include spatial elements such as creating spaces for outdoor living, entertaining areas, safe or adventure spaces for children's play. There will be decisions needed on the layout of materials for hardscaped areas such as paving, patios, decks & paths. There are usually some planting decisions needed as well, so you will need a landscape plan or a landscape concept. 

  • If your landscape structures are already planned out or in place, as is often the case with a newly built home where your planner or architect has created a hardscaping layout as part of your resource consent process, you may just need help with choosing plants and where to put them to give an attractive look to your property. In this instance, a planting plan or planting concept is what you will need.

  • In more complex projects, where a lot of information needs to be provided,  you may need both.

  • At DIY Designs we specialise in value-for-money 'Garden Master Plans', which combine both landscape & detailed planting information into one comprehensive plan.

I don't think I need a landscape plan!

We hear this often. Especially when people are trying to save money by skipping the 'design phase'. But it's a false economy, as a considered plan will actually save you money.

A great landscape design not only pulls together all the aspects of your outdoor makeover project, locking them together in one place. It also gives you the luxury of considering your options and the outcomes you desire before you build them.  You can use it to get landscape quotes and compare the impact on your budget of different finishes and materials.

If your intention is to engage a landscape contractor to price or build your landscape project, or if you are building a new home, or doing a substantial home renovation, you will definitely need a landscape plan, either for:

  • A resource consent submission, to show you have considered the impact of your development on the immediate environment and your surrounding neighbourhood.

  • To provide detailed information for your contractor for quoting and implementation.

For these purposes, at a minimum, you will need a scaled 2D landscape design that shows the proposed garden layout in a bird's eye view, with information such as m2 area quantities of hardscape, and areas of detailed planting.  Materials, finishes, and a detailed plant schedule are typically also required. 

What's the difference between a landscape plan, a landscape concept, and a planting plan?

Landscape plan and landscape concept are interchangeable terms, loosely speaking.

  • A landscape plan can be just that - a basic plan of your landscape, typically showing the landscape designer's proposed layout for your garden in a 'birds-eye' (or from above) view. A really basic plan is often referred to as a 'schematic plan'. 

  • A landscape design process usually starts with a schematic plan, which the garden designer then adds additional information to. Such as photos, sketches and descriptive notes telling you what all those lines and graphics on the 'plan' represent. In essence, all the things that bring the ideas to life on the page (or screen) to help you to visualise the proposed garden design. This is what is known as a 'landscape concept' or  'landscape concept plan' (same thing!).

    It is a 'concept' because it's still in the planning & ideas stage. These types of plans typically focus on a broad spatial layout and indicative hardscaping and materials and only show generalised plant information. 

  • If more information is added, such as to inform the finer detailing or finishing of particular elements, the concept becomes a  'Detailed Plan' or 'Developed Concept' (same thing!). 

  • A planting plan is a type of  'detailed drawing' and, like a concept plan, it is overlaid on a basic or schematic landscape plan of your site that shows the garden in a 'birds-eye' (or from above) view.  This plan still shows the location of hardscaping, but the detailed information relates to the planting aspects only.  Such as what the plants are, how far apart they are spaced etc. A planting plan also includes a plant schedule or plant list, so you know how many plants to buy and often it will include information on how to go about planting (planting specifications) and garden maintenance (a garden maintenance schedule). 

  • At DIY Designs we've made it really easy for you. We sell comprehensive, value-for-money 'Garden Master Plans', which combine both landscape & detailed planting information into one info-packed plan perfect you you or your contractor to use. 

Can I just get a planting plan and skip the concept plan stage?

Planting plans are ideal if you already have your hardscape features in place and just need planting to complete the landscaping, or if you want to upgrade an existing garden using plants. 
A professional planting plan is drawn to scale in birdseye view,  so your designer will still need accurate measurements or an existing landscape plan to work from.  

DIYdesigns offers traditional Planting Plans which are suitable for resource consent purposes and for use by landscape contractors. We also create  Planting Concepts which are ideal for Developers Approval or for providing planting suggestions for  DIY garden makeover projects. 

Online Landscape Design Process

Why online landscape design?

Online landscape design is a streamlined process that limits costs associated with 'non-design' elements such as administration and travel. At DIY Designs we were early adopters of using the technology and modern design methods that make it easy to exchange property files, hold screen share meetings, and design in a virtual environment. 

We were working remotely well before the advent of covid and lockdowns, because we could see that working online provided a more efficient and cost-effective way of delivering landscape design services to busy homeowners. Savvy people just like you, looking for solid landscape design advice for a budget-friendly garden makeover or landscape design.

DIY Designs continues to offer onsite design services to Auckland homeowners whose projects are slightly more complex, however, a large proportion of our Auckland clients utilise our online service, to save money and time on their outdoor projects. 

Can you really design my garden without coming to my property?

We can and we do.  AND our 5-star google reviews show that we do it well!

You are our 'eyes on-site' and with our guidance, can easily provide the information we need to give us a good understanding of your property and your design needs through photos, video, and a detailed design brief.  This supplements the information we can find online. 

Homeowners like yourself give a lot of thought to their landscaping before they contact us and usually have a good idea of what you want, even if you don't quite know how to achieve that inviting outdoor living nook, or functional backyard paradise. You know the issues that need resolving, and it's our job to delve deeper into those and come up with creative design solutions.

If you're hesitant to buy your design online because you're unsure if your project is suitable for our online service, just get in touch

How does online landscape design work?

It's very simple, and if you like a well-defined process, you'll love online design with DIY Designs. You can learn the process in more detail here but in short:

  • We have created a fixed-price range of design services based on commonly requested landscape design services or landscape plan types and put these into an online store on our website.  To get started you just purchase the service or plan that best suits your needs.

  • All the products have great descriptors but if you are still not sure which one is right, you can get in touch now, or book a call back at a specific time that suits you and, we will help you decide. No pressure or hard sell. 

  • With our automated process, when you purchase your desired landscape design service you receive your 'DIY Design Project Guide ' within minutes via email. This steps you through all you need to do, and how to do it. Easy things such as sending us some photos, site measurements or existing site & house plans, and completing an online form to provide us with a clear understanding of your garden goals and establish a design brief. 

  • To confirm we have correctly interpreted the information you have sent us and that we understand your needs, we have a pre-design chat with you about our initial design ideas via screenshare before we prepare a draft concept.

  • There's a feedback and revision process to ensure you are happy with your completed design.  This varies based on which landscape design service you purchase and is outlined on each of the service description pages

How long does it take to get an online landscape plan?

Lead times vary depending on how many other projects we have on the go when you engage us. Our busy season is spring -summer, when lead times can be longer but typically:

  • Once we have all your project info and we've had a pre-design chat there's a 7-10 day turn for you to get your draft design.

  • Once we have your feedback on the draft design your plan is typically revised and finalised within the week.

  • Overall this process can take between 4-6 weeks

We won't rush you at any stage, however, you can assist us with a speedy turnaround by providing any requested information promptly and by choosing an early date for your screen share. If you're in hurry, it's best to get started as soon as you can. 

What are the benefits of online landscape design over traditional landscape design?

Online landscape design is a streamlined version of a traditional landscape design offer, so one of the primary advantages of online landscape design is cost reduction through the use of technology.

Much of the process is driven by you, the client, using efficient, user-friendly, online systems we have put into place for your use. This gives you a lot of control over how the design project progresses.

Here are just a few of the benefits you'll enjoy as an online landscape design client.

  • No waiting for a quote - choose and purchase your service online, rather than via invoice.

  • Rest assured there are no hidden or unexpected design costs with our fixed-price services. 

  • Pick meeting times that suit your work schedule or lifestyle, with our online booking system.

  • Enjoy greater flexibility around meeting times, with evening and weekend options available.

  • Unleash your inner designer during fun screenshare design review sessions

  • Save money by doing some of the easy pre-design work a designer would normally charge you for, like taking site photos and developing your own design brief using our online tools,

Landscape Design Costs

How much does it cost to landscape NZ gardens?

We Kiwi homeowners have all seen the TV shows that make landscaping our NZ gardens look like a quick afternoon's work.  Unfortunately, this is not the reality, and while some small landscaping projects can be completed in an afternoon, a more complex landscape project typically takes time and thought, which of course, equals $$$. The cost will depend on a wide range of factors. Here are some things to consider: 

  • A general rule of thumb in New Zealand is to spend 10% of the property‚Äôs overall value on your landscaping, more if there is little to no existing garden infrastructure. 

  • A lot of the cost of landscaping goes into elements you often can't see, such as health & safety, site-set up, demolition, earthworks, drainage & rubbish removal.

  • The greater the amount of hard landscaping features and bespoke built elements in your landscape project, the higher the materials and labour costs will be. 

  • If your budget is tight, working with what you've got is the best option. A quick refresh of garden planting and tidying up of existing landscape features is the most cost-effective way to improve the look of your garden.

As experienced designers and homeowners, at DIY Designs we know that gardens will take all the money you are willing to throw at them. So, it's best to give some thought as to how much you are prepared to spend on your landscaping and establish some kind of a budget. Your designer can then suggest the most suitable ideas.

Each landscape contractor has a different pricing structure and m2 rates. If you want to shop around on price, you'll need a garden plan so your landscaper or landscape contractor can provide an accurate landscape estimate.  

At DIY Designs, we like to give you some 'splurge and save' options in your landscape plan, so that you go into the exciting implementation stage with some budget wriggle room.

Does it cost more to landscape Auckland properties than in other parts of NZ?

If the 'spending 10% of the overall property value' rule of thumb is applied, then your landscaping budget will need to be larger in Auckland, but what about costs?

  • While the base material costs should generally be about the same as In other parts of NZ, as we all know, time is money. So, differences may arise in Auckland in relation to travel and materials delivery costs.

  • Company overheads can make a difference too. One of the most significant differences in cost is likely to come in the type of landscape contractor you choose. 
    - A 'one-man-band' is likely to have lower overheads, reflected in cheaper rates.
    -A larger Auckland landscape construction company, however, may be able to offer a greater range of services.

  • The quality of the finish will also vary along with costs, so you need to decide whether you are looking for quick, cheap garden fixes before putting your property on the market, a modest garden makeover that you can enjoy in your 'for now' home, or a quality landscape construction for your 'forever' home. That way, you can choose a landscaper that best suits both your project and your budget. 

How much do landscape designers charge?

Most landscape designers and landscape architects work on an hourly rate, essentially 'trading hours for dollars'. So, it's a user pays kind of situation.

  • The range typically varies from $70 - $150 per hour, and most designers will then add GST on top of that. Not DIY Designs - our fixed prices all include GST, so there are no unexpected costs.

  • Most landscape design companies will provide a quote for a specific set of design services. At DIY Designs, we are a step ahead. Our fixed-price landscape design services are available for purchase directly from our website, based on your property size. 

  • When doing your landscape design budgeting, be sure that you are aware of anything that might be charged as an 'extra', such as site visits, meetings, vehicle costs, mileage, and disbursements such as printing. Some designers also charge for time accumulated writing and reading emails. 

The DIY Designs online service means no site visits and screenshare meetings are included in each fixed-price service. Plus, our streamlined processes reduce all that pesky emailing, so when you choose our online service, you won't have to worry about those extra costs. 

A fixed-price design is a good way to keep control of design costs, ideal when designing a garden on a tight budget. This is one of the key differences that DIY Designs offers. 

What about free consultations and free designs?

It is never free! Somewhere, you are paying for this service.

Some companies offer a 'free' design but there are conditions. Choose not to build with them, and you can expect an invoice.

A 'free' consultation is usually a quick 'pop in', and don't expect any savvy designer to give away all their ideas while they are there. You'll get some vague suggestions and a good sales pitch.

A quality consultation with an experienced designer costs, but it is well worth your investment. During a 'Walk & Talk' consultation or a 'Coach Me' design session with our creative director Kerry, you get expert tips and a huge array of garden design ideas and landscaping solutions. 'Well worth the cost" has said more than one past client. 

Landscape Design Implementation

I want to build my garden myself!


If you want to build some or all of your garden, you'll love the hands-on elements of our online design process, and the insights your interactions with our knowledgeable garden designer will give you into the thinking behind the design ideas and landscape features used in your garden plan.

DIY garden designs are perfect for DIY types because they include easy-to-build garden features, off-the-shelf landscape construction components, and easy-to-find landscaping materials. We like to use things that you can pick up from a local supplier or hardware store, or purchase online. 

We ask you at the start if you intend to build this yourself, and if so, work with you to design a landscape that is easy, achievable and reflective of your skill set.  

Can I use my own landscape contactor?


One of the advantages of having a plan done by an independent landscape design company like DIY Designs is that you can take it to the landscaper or landscape construction company of your choice. 

 Our professional landscape design plans are suitable for a landscape contractor to price and build from. 

Can you build my garden for me or arrange for a contractor to build the landscape?

Our specialty is in creating landscape and garden concepts. 

We don't offer services in terms of garden or landscape implementation, project management, sourcing competitive landscape quotes or supplying landscape materials or plants. 

We are, however, happy to talk with you about what to look for in a contractor and, if we have reputable contacts in your area, we are happy to pass on their details. 

Just because we are a 'design only' company doesn't mean we haven't got your back during your build. You or your contractor are welcome to contact us if you need to discuss anything in one of our garden plans during the pricing or implementation stages.

My budget is limited, can I do my landscaping in stages?

You certainly can. 

The overall cost of building a garden can come as a shock, so implementing in stages can be a good way to chip away at your landscaping project. 

Some economies of scale may be lost, but with a landscape plan in hand from the start, you can build your garden in stages as you can afford it, and still be assured of a cohesive outcome when all the stages are completed. This is where having a landscape plan proves invaluable.