Creating Work We Are Proud Of – From Commission To Presentation

Creating Work We Are Proud Of – From Commission To Presentation

‘Are you nervous?’

I was sitting with a client at her kitchen table, about to show her the design for her new garden, when she asked this question.

It had been a significant piece of design work, a true transformation of a large garden. There is always some apprehension, but when it comes to presentation my overwhelming feeling is always excitement. Let me explain why.

In our garden design practice we differ from many others in two ways. First, we design in an ‘Eco Formal’ style – creating elegant, low maintenance gardens using building techniques that are low carbon and using plants that are wonderful for wildlife. Second, we take an extremely thorough approach to the design process. So when it comes to presenting our work to clients we are confident that we are showing the best, most considered, most thoroughly challenged design.

Our design process is almost always the same:

  1. We truly listen to the client, understanding what they like/dislike about their garden, what they would love it to be, and what their budget is. We collaborate as much as possible in the early stages of the design process, sharing moodboards and ideas. This is a genuinely exciting part of the process.
  2. Once we have a detailed survey of a client’s existing garden, we put it into a computer programme and create a base plan. This is essentially a tidier, more detailed version of the survey, where we add additional site details.
  3. We create a site analysis plan. This is an overlay of the base plan, with mark ups of all the positive and negative aspects of the site, soil analysis, planning restrictions and so on. It also shows a breakdown of the client brief.
  4. We print everything out – plans, site photographs. And, whatever our first instincts are – we resist the temptation to start designing.
  5. We research. We piece together everything we can find about the garden, the house, the wider area and marry that to the client brief and site analysis. We look at relevant garden styles and develop moodboards. Then we refine everything, distilling it into key pointers for the new garden.
  6. Now we design. First the old fashioned way, on paper and board. Then moving into a computer package. The advantage of having done our homework is that know exactly the identity of the new garden, so we can be bold with its design. All team members input at this stage, challenging initial ideas and exploring new ones. For instance, if we are doing a modern interpretation of a Paradise Garden, we can take key elements of water, shade, a central axis and take them to an exciting place. Our rule for the finished design is that it is beautiful, is simple, and that every area of the garden has a strong identity.
  7. With the 2-D design finalised, we then model the garden, creating a photo-realistic render of the proposed garden. Aside from this looking fabulous, it helps us test the design. If we spot that a proportion is a bit out, or build material doesn’t look right, we can then tweak the design.
  8. We prepare the design presentation pack. This will contain a portfolio showing the design journey from survey through to research moodboards, the 2-D plan, visuals of the proposed garden and a short film of the new garden giving clients a fly through of the entire site.
  9. We go to the client’s house and present the design.


Clients nearly always have comments on the design, which is as it should be. This is a collaborative process and their garden.

But we never present work unless it is our absolutely our strongest, most beautiful design.

‘Are you nervous?’ asked the client last week, as I reached to open the presentation box.

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I enjoy presenting.’

I really do. It’s exciting showing a client work we are proud of.