Our Design Process

Site Consultation:

An onsite meeting to discuss your needs, wants, and desires for the project. During this meeting the site’s conditions are evaluated and any potential concerns addressed. This is a time during which the design intent will be formulated creating direction for the project.

Design Contract:

The initial investment in your landscape should be the design. With this in mind, a design fee will be structured according to the scope and scale of the project. The design contract will outline what the design shall include and identify the cost for drafting the plan. The design fee is based on a fixed rate and collected prior to design work being performed.


Following the site consultation and receipt of the design fee the site will be measured, photographed, grades taken, and drafting work will begin.

Concept Review:

For larger projects a concept review will be conducted to discuss the overall concept before significant time is invested in details. This is a helpful review to assure designer and client are on the right page keeping revisions to a minimum.


The design will be presented to you along with a cost for implementation by Living Oaks. Plant lists are agreed upon and material selections made.

Contracting with Living Oaks Landscaping

Upon acceptance of our contract a one third deposit will be requested. Once the deposit has been received your job will be scheduled.

Living Oaks will handle all the details from there…

We maintain very small crews to maximize efficiency and minimize disruption. Once we begin your project we remain on site until it is completed. Unique to Living Oaks is the production role played by the Designer. Responsible for ensuring the intent of the design is carried out as expected, Alex manages each project. She oversees all the details giving you a consistently reliable source to communicate with every step of the way.

In the end:

At the conclusion of the project we will conduct a walk through with you to explain care of  your new landscape and collect final payment. We will also discuss extended maintenance as we take pride in our work and want to keep your landscaping looking its best for years to come.

Value to Winter Design Work

~ Focused attention

Fewer distractions from daily production schedule provide time for the Landscape Designer to dedicate to focused, concentrated, creative design work. Not to say you would not receive same quality work at another time of year- but the off season shifts priorities making design one with the luxury of time and attention to be doing one of the things we are most passionate about- designing!

~ Savings on investment

Discounted rates on design fees and offerings of incentives are more prevalent in the winter months as we aim to motivate you to take advantage of these savings and have your project’s vision translated into a plan now rather than when things are more active during the growing season.

~ Prepared for spring

Design work being performed now means you will be at the head of the line for a spring installation as your plan is ready, contracted, and set to install in advance of the later season heat. You will have the time to enjoy it through this upcoming year and watch it establish.

~ Landscape showing true colors or lack thereof

In winter, sites are most exposed and missing elements such as structure, Evergreens, or texture are highlighted without the buffer of green or flowering material. The “bones” of the landscape shine through and can be developed with greater clarity.

~ Hard look at hardscaping

In winter, hardscape elements such as walks and walls become more pronounced permitting independent consideration of this element and opportunity to improve or build upon it with plantings or other aesthetic changes. It is also a good time to consider adding fire pits, outdoor kitchen spaces, or landscape lighting to extend usage and enjoyment of outdoor spaces.

~ Storm assessment

Grading and drainage concerns become more evident during the height of storm season providing the ability to evaluate them and remedy most accurately after observing what is happening. Trees return to the forefront with damage and need for pruning or removal.


Making Plans This Year

Existing landscape reflects a great deal of what remained post construction, less material that had either outgrown its place or declined in health and was removed. Some minor changes had already been made such as the addition of crushed brick to dress the beds and efforts to get seasonal color with annuals. The largest obstacle to achieving success with flowering plant material is the deer that call this neighborhood home.


Design Intent

Create a new design that elevates the landscaping a notch to give it great appeal, functionality, and aesthetics. The backdrop to the front foundation is a second story deck with the underside of it visible. Selecting a plant that would conceal this, be able to be maintained beneath the height of the upper deck, and provide a lush green backdrop was a starting point in the construction of a plant palette.

Layering within this landscape is important particularly where the element of height is involved. Vertical accents were added with Crape Myrtles that will also serve as a beautiful feature to illuminate with low-voltage landscape lighting. The placement of three of them carries height across the front of the property broadening the landscape beyond just the foundation.

Another aspect introduced in this design was the addition of more “green” with turf breaking the plane between the driveway and planting beds on either side. The narrow strip of existing turf between the bed and sidewalk will wrap around and soften the hardscape elements by providing a green visual spacing.

The selections of other shrubs and perennials were done with the need for deer resistance in mind. Brought in to the plan were a variety of textures, seasonal color, and structure. The Boxwood hedges add a touch of formality while supporting grade changes as a “wall” affording transitions down the steep slope. They will also serve as a backdrop to the bright display of perennials and seasonal annual color rotations.

Keeping the existing walk in place we worked around it with more economical, yet still impactful changes.


In Progress

The design is still in the process of obtaining final approval while working with the homeowners to ensure their satisfaction with all the details of the design. As we finalize plans, we will work through completing the process and scheduling an installation.

Design Process for a Remodel


The “before” photo above pictures the remnants of the old landscape with no real walk, drive, or lawn. With construction vehicles finally off the lawn, it is time to reclaim the landscape. This is our starting point.

Design Intent

Newly remodeled home with clients seeking an exterior renovation reflective of the beautiful work they had done on the interior to complete the property. The intent was to design a landscape to compliment the home adding elegance, simplicity, and color while adding interest with use of texture. The main foundational hardscape elements; the front walk and driveway were laid out to create a natural flowing shape defining the space and restoring functionality to a limited parking area.

Incorporating many of the homeowner’s preferences with plant material and stylistic choices, a plan was drafted, presented, and agreed upon. Look for repetition of plant material across the property to unify. Also look for how we expanded the space reclaiming the overgrown vegetation on the left making into planting space while giving a visual block and solid green backdrop with simple plantings in front on either side of the property lines. Splashes of color will come from lower maintenance shrubs and a handful of perennials selected with deer in mind and seasonal interest. The selections for the front foundation provide an elegant combination of evergreens with lovely hydrangeas set within the bed. Our landscape lighting scheme illuminates the front walk and right side of the driveway while accenting the large tree in the driveway giving it the hierarchy in the landscape it deserves, and even more pronounced in the dark.

The Plan


Installation Underway…

This project began with hardscaping that included a new exposed aggregate concrete front walk and driveway. Once the concrete work was complete, a curbstone material was set in place bordering the front walk to add a touch of charm and retain the mulch within the planting beds keeping it off the walk. Extensive brush removal took place on either side of the property. The trees pictured on the left in the “before” photo become exposed and part of a new planting bed.

Then grading was performed to transition from the elevation of the side yard around the front foundation and out to the street. Material was brought in to fine grade before planting and sod installation. Once the plants were carefully placed and planted the beds received fresh mulch and the site was tidied while lighting went in and finishing touches made.

During a walk through with the clients we delivered plant care and watering instructions as well as a review of our warranty. We offer grounds maintenance to all our newly installed projects and shall visit this installation again in the spring and hopefully share some “after” photos then. Stay tuned…

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