The Design Phase is a communication tool to define a scope of work to be done and set expectations and help a build team (maybe us, maybe you, maybe someone else) accomplish a serious of tasks and goals, as well as budget.  We appreciate the people who have an infinite budget.  For smaller lots, we often can do we can do sketches or notes in a  Word or PowerPoint document format that communicate the changes to be made. However, Design is critical for bringing together elements in landscape modifications with any amount of complexity.   Integrating the elements for medium-large projects make these projects come together better and at less cost than “field engineering” a concept into a reality.

A case in point. A project from 2017 that waived the recommended design phase (3x recommended, by our principal), ended up costing at least $15,000 more (115K instead of 100K)  than it might have had if the client invested the 1-2K in the design process.  One of the major changes to the project on the fly costed extra labor bumping a high end retaining wall out 2′, which involved extra time, materials, and machine rental, etc.  Then, after the access was closed up for the machines we had on site, another change involving wheel-barrowing loads and loads of wood chip down the hill (which was not too bad, but pushing am empty wheel barrow up a hill repeatedly is no joke).

  • Design/Project management fees should be 10-15% of total project cost.

Design Services can include

  • simple sketches with plant call outs.
  • A basic, single family residence master (high level stuff only) plan design…….. $500-1000
  • Detailed planting plans, earth work, construction documents can run $500-2000 on top of that, depending on the scale, complexity, your taste.
  • Please open this design-portfolio-2016   showing the various products we can do.
Simple *sketches* can be done on site in 1-2 hours. Not a lot of detail can be included. OK for basic modifications
Master Plan with Color Rending and “call outs” for features and plants


Planting Plan in CAD associated to color rendering above. CAD allows us to make modifications to the plan more easily than a hand drawn plan. It also provides cleaner information to the builder.
Rainwise Engineering plan. Required by SPU, but they do not need much detail.
1/2 acre planting plan with planting key.  Done in CAD. More than 80 edible plants in the design.








Color coded planting CAD plan with over 100 varieties in it. Hardscape and irrigation overlays







Design Process- Next Steps

  1. Fill out our questionnaire (unless you have already done so)
  2.  Schedule an initial Design-Consultation.  We can help you determine from your questionnaire and conversation what is best for you.
  3. Discuss which Design products you would like See above examples and/or  See this CEL Design Contract for various products.  Please note that a base design is $500 minimum. 

For an understanding of how Landscape Design Process works, please refer to this various flow charts (borrowed from internet)



  • YOU have to live with the project as long as you are in the house. WE want to do everything in our power to help you feel HAPPY with the project and outcome(s). Your participation in the design process always makes it better. So do your homework please!
  • Spending time upfront to work in the pieces of the puzzle into a design will yield better results over the long run.
  • Priorities: some things are more important than others.
  • Decisions have to be made.
  • Budget: There is often a limit to a budget: we can only provide relative costs and let you decide where to apply. We can either design within a budget-constraint or put together master vision to see where we land. We can “shoot for the moon and see where we land”.
  • Landscapes involve multiple layers of activity. People and sites are dynamic and specific.
  • Plants/Hardscapes/Soils/water have a relationship. Integrating these is our default. But you may put more weight on one or another and it drives cost.
  • No design is 100% maintenance free, especially edible landscapes
  • Abundance! Unless you have kids, it is possible for you to have too many fruit and berries
  • Design/Project management fees should be 10-15% of total project cost.