The landscape design phase consists of research, gathering ideas, and setting a plan. Design factors include objective qualities such as: climate and micro-climates; topography and orientation, site drainage and groundwater recharge; municipal and resource building codes; soils and irrigation; human and vehicular access and circulation; recreational amenities (i.e., sports and water); furnishings and lighting; native plant habitat botany when present; property safety and security; construction detailing; and other measurable considerations.
Design factors also include subjective qualities such as genius loci (the special site qualities to emphasize); client’s needs and preferences; desirable plants and elements to retain on site, modify, or replace, and that may be available for borrowed scenery from beyond; artistic composition from perspectives of both looking upon and observing from within; spatial development and definition – using lines, sense of scale, and balance and symmetry; plant palettes; and artistic focal points for enjoyment. There are innumerable other design factors and considerations brought to the complex process of designing a garden that is beautiful, well-functioning, and that thrives over time.
The up-and-coming practice of online landscape design allows professional landscapers to remotely design and plan sites through manipulation of two-dimensional images without ever physically visiting the location. Due to the frequent lack of non-visual, supplementary data such as soil assessments and pH tests, online landscaping necessarily must focus on incorporating only plants which are tolerant across many diverse soil conditions.