The day-to-day practice of residential landscape design typically involves the development of plans, sections, and elevations for use as design tools as well as sales tools. All of these drawing types are two-dimensional in nature. Plans depict aspects of the design involving length and width. Sections and elevations illustrate parts of the design regarding length or width and height. Although these are standard drawing types and prove to be necessary documents, they are not capable of portraying the threedimensional quality of the proposed design. A different drawing type that proves to be a great design and visual sales tool is the perspective sketch. These drawings can provide the client with realistic images of how design changes can help solve site problems or improve the aesthetic quality of outdoor spaces. Because perspective sketches involve all three dimensions, it takes some additional study and practice to learn and use them.
Perspectives are often prepared after a design has been developed. The perspective drawings are then presented to the client to help clarify the character and quality of the proposed design solution. Clients are usually impressed when they are able to visualize the reality of proposed design ideas through the use of perspective sketches. Although perspectives make for great final presentation sales tools for the client, they are also very valuable design tools for the designer. Through the normal use of plans, design ideas are typically generated by a combination of looking at and focusing on the existing conditions of a site, coupled with exploring and imagining a variety of ways to solve problems and create spaces. This can also be done with perspective sketches. Through the use of photography, existing images can be captured and produced quickly and easily with a digital camera, a card reader, and a photo printer. These existing-conditions photographs can be used as a base for ideas to be sketched on with tracing paper and pens/pencils. Design ideas can be explored and imagined three-dimensionally. These “design idea” sketches can also be used as discussion tools with the client during the early stages of design.
Developing a master plan for Angela and David Meleca was an adventurous, unique, and successful design project because of the use of a series of perspective sketches to portray proposed design ideas. As always, a meeting with them provided important information related to the landscape design. This discussion included the development of program elements, existing site concerns and problems, future changes in the house, and the design character of the gardens, as well as their personal preferences regarding important aspects of design. A series of photographs was taken to record existing physical conditions. David, being an architect, copied a few different site plans, floor plans, and house elevations onto a CD. This CD was used later to print out necessary documents for the preparation of an existing base map.
Rather than starting to study and explore design ideas in plan, this project began with a three-dimensional design journey. Twenty different images were used as 8 X 10 photographic bases for sketching a variety of design ideas. Alternative ideas for several different areas were developed. All of the major site design ideas were prepared in three-dimensional form over a period of three days. Then, based on these sketches, a freehand preliminary master plan was developed, along with some alternative ways to deal with several major spaces. Because design ideas were being translated from three-dimensional images to a two-dimensional plan, time was needed to coordinate the various ideas into the plans.
Presentation to Angela and David took place at their home. The photographs were used to show the existing conditions. Tracing paper overlays on each sketch were used to illustrate proposed design changes. The preliminary master plan, along with some alternatives for several areas, was used as an overall coordinating tool to tie all the sketch ideas
together. The presentation meeting produced helpful dialogue. Based on the feedback and design discussion, the next step was to refine the preliminary plan into a master plan. The following design drawings have been included, with some explanation of each.
• 12 sets of sketches
• Existing conditions photographs (Before)
• Overlay design sketches (After)
• Preliminary master plan
• Two additional alternatives for the front entry/garden space
• One alternative for the backyard and walkway
• One alternative for the entertaining space and side yard