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How to Properly Plan for a Landscape Project

January 26, 2021

You’ve dreamed up your ideal backyard, maybe even sketched it out and now it’s finally time to take the plunge and invest in bringing your ideas to life. But, where do you start, and how much landscape project preparation is really necessary?

Undertaking a full landscaping project is a big task — one that should only be trusted to the professionals. Your first task is finding a reputable team, like the one at Straight Line, who will listen to you and come up with a surefire plan that not only meets but exceeds your wildest dreams. Say goodbye to the dirt and dust that you’ve become accustomed to, and say hello to your new oasis.

Why Planning and Preparation Are Critical to the Success of a Landscape Project

Planning is not just for a wedding or other special event, it’s for your landscape, too. Why? Because there are so many things that could potentially go wrong and derail the project before it ever gets off the ground. There are also just so many beautiful and functional things that you can only have in your new landscape if you plan them out thoroughly. It’s great to envision your front yard, backyard or the whole shebang, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making your vision come to life. Without planning, you (and your landscape team) are flying blind and many times, it doesn’t turn out as you thought.

With 20+ years of experience in landscape planning, we’ve learned a lot along the way and that only makes each project better. Let’s dive into some of the absolute musts when it comes to designing and executing your project.

Materials Matter

Materials are a large part of what you need to know when you’re considering how to plan landscaping. When it comes to choosing materials for your project, it’s critical that you know what can withstand the arid Phoenix climate. Not all materials and plants thrive here and it could very well be that the grass you’ve got your heart set on won’t work.

Does that mean you scrap the landscape plans? Of course not! This is your dream and any landscaping team worth its salt will have a substitute to suggest.

Concrete or Travertine Pavers — these are excellent for walkways, whether in your front yard leading to your door, or the backyard leading to your ramada, pergola, pool or gazebo. What you choose depends on your budget and taste.

Block — in Phoenix, you build all out of block. Why? Because it lasts longer and takes the summer heat well. Furthermore, it doesn’t dry up or crack the way wood does.

Natural Stone and Tile — You can create a multitude of looks with travertine, limestone, ceramic, or porcelain tile.

Plants — Picking the right plants requires knowing your sun exposure, picking full-sun varieties for yards with little to no shade plants that require afternoon shade and those that require full shade.

Turf — Artificial turf is made from plastics and polymers, reflections from windows can act as a magnifying glass, so placing the turf in the space and avoiding window reflections is important. In Phoenix, the summer sun can destroy lesser-quality turf.

Plastic absorbs heat and will become hot to the touch, real grass will absorb heat but not get hot. In addition to plants, you also need to consider the wood or other building materials that go into your project. Are you planning to build a ramada or pergola? Then it’s important to know that some types of wood, even with treatment, should be avoided. Because of the arid climate, some wood simply dries up. However, there are methods, such as combining aluminum with other materials, such as stone, that can extend its life.

Pergolas — These structures are built either out of wood, and then they require maintenance, or aluminum so they don’t require staining or painting. Aluminum also doesn’t and they don’t warp, twist or dry out.

Ramadas — The frame is built out of wood, then covering it up with roof tile or a flat roof. We use stucco or stone to cover up the wood because you can’t leave the it exposed to the elements.

Talk with your landscaping team. They’re knowledgeable about all aspects of your project and can help you achieve the look you’re going for, even if you have to use substitutes.


It’s nice to have a schedule to refer to and a solid timeline in place for your project’s completion. However, even the best-laid plans go awry and nobody’s truly at fault. For example, a strong storm could come through and make it impossible for the crew to get any work done. Or, a supplier needs more time to fulfill an order. It happens and it’s all easily addressed. Straight Line, for example, gives a built-in buffer for all of its projects. It gives the team — and you — a bit of wiggle room so in the end, you’re both satisfied. The goal is to complete the project on or before the planned date even if something gets in the way.

How long can you expect to wait? Well, it depends. 

Building a full landscape can take around 3-4 weeks from beginning to completion of construction. Some factors in determining the timeline include: 

  • Scope of the project, defined by factors such as:
    • Variety and quantity of features
    • Need to hire specialty contractors
    • Built-in automation
  • Size of the yard
  • Material availability

However, before any construction work begins, the design process comes first. This includes designing, picking materials, signing contracts, obtaining permits and HOA approval, and special-order materials. This initial process can take between 4-6 weeks.

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Details, Details, Details

Details really do matter. Timing, materials, construction.  Only a good team with a well-laid-out plan can give you a steadfast answer when you ask a question at any time during the project. 


At Straight Line, we take our business and customer satisfaction seriously, so we created a comprehensive set of steps we follow. They ensure not only is your full landscape project on target, but that every i is dotted and t is crossed even before the work begins. Here’s what you can expect: 

  • We Get to Know You – Before we can make your dream come true, we have to get to know you first. In our first meeting, which is likely to occur over the phone, we talk about what you’re looking for in a project. We’ll ask a series of questions to get a better idea of what the scope of work entails. Then we invite you to meet in person.  
  • You Tell Us Your Ideas – Here’s your chance to get creative, give us your best shot! We want you to look through our galleries at some of our past work and come up with a detailed vision of what you’re looking for. You’ll share your ideas through our project inquiry form. 
  • We Meet at Your Home – Our team now needs to get the lay of your landscape. Our designer will go through your property with an eye for details. The meeting takes about 30-60 minutes and gives the designer a better idea of what the team is working with. 
  • We Create Your Design – After getting the lay of the land, we go to work over the next 1-2 weeks and craft a design that will showcase the best features of your yard. It’s created using either 3D or CAD software and is 100% unique to your landscape, no regurgitating old ideas!
  • The Reveal – We know after up to 2 weeks following our meeting you’re excited to see what we’ve come up with — and we’re just as excited to show you! This time, you’ll come to our office. This will take longer because there’s more information to go over. We review the landscape plan and design, add or remove any details until you’re 100% satisfied. Here, we’ll also go over your budget and other pertinent details. 
  • Revisions and Final Meeting – After we’ve made the revisions, you’ll come back to the office, go over the plans once again and select your materials. We’ll present your price breakdown and if all is well, we will get your contract signed, you’ll put your deposit down, and we’re ready to roll. 
  • Project Planning – Here comes the fun part and you’ll soon see exactly what we mean by details. Within 3 weeks after the contract signing, you’ll receive the detailed plans that include everything from HOA requirements and botanical names for all the plants we’ll be using. We won’t leave you guessing. We’ll also fill you in on the date work will start and end, per our specifications.
  • Construction Starts – Finally, we get started and our team hits the ground getting your land primed and installing the plants and features you asked for. Upon completion, not only do we walk you through all of the details, but you’ll also learn how to care for the landscape. You’ll make your final payment at this time.
  • Warranty Information – All of our projects come with a warranty on work done, which we’ll explain in detail (there’s that word again) and tell you how to submit a request, should you need to.
  • Sit Back and Bask in Your New Landscape – this is self-explanatory!

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Preparing for a Project

There are several pitfalls that you need to avoid when preparing for your full landscape project and hiring a company.


Just because they’re the first, doesn’t mean they’re the best. Make sure you interview a few companies before moving forward. 


References are like the calling card for a successful landscaping team. A company that puts quality and its customers first is likely to come with rave personal reviews in the form of references. If a company can’t offer you a reference, move along, quickly.


Ratings can be touch or go, but it’s important to get a feel of how most customers rate the company.


Get a feel for the type of work a company does. This should be one of the first things you do. See if they have an Instagram or Facebook page and start scrolling. Not only should you see gorgeous photos (hopefully) but maybe you’ll also see improvement over time as the company and its teams hone skills. This is completely normal. What’s not? Shoddy photos that display a messy landscape or clear evidence of the company paying more attention to getting the job done quickly rather than getting it done right.


If the company you’re working with doesn’t offer you a visual reference of the work they plan to do on your landscape, you have two choices. Insist on one or walk away. If they won’t offer you a visual even after you insist, walk away. You deserve to know how your landscape will turn out and use that as reference to ensure the job’s done properly.


Quality should always come first. A reputable, solid landscaping company can meet all of its customer’s needs without sacrificing materials. They also make sure to use materials designed to stand up to Arizona’s heat.


If the company or any of its employees appear disorganized in their communication or comes late to one of your first meetings, this is a red flag.If the company starts out disorganized, there’s no reason to think they will be anything but throughout the project. Keep looking.

Why Straight Line Landscaping Is the Best Choice in North Phoenix

In North Phoenix, Straight Line is number one for several reasons. 

We have over 20 years of experience, so we know the arid desert climate very well. We also use this expertise to ensure you get the look you desire with plants that will thrive, keeping your yard looking beautiful for years — our galleries attest to that. Our experience is tailored to the specific environment and communities of North Phoenix. 

In addition, our landscaping teams are comprehensive. Not only do they understand intricate landscaping plans, they work directly with customers to ensure every step of the project flows smoothly. 

As mentioned above, we always go with quality over quantity. For us, it’s about getting the best possible landscape plan completed before we move onto the next. Shoddy materials? Rush jobs? You won’t hear about those from Straight Line. 

Our pride is in the little details. We won’t even begin work without having all of the necessary plans for your full landscaping project in hand. This is why we meet with you several times before we start construction. It may also be that you’ve completed some of the outdoor space construction your own way before we came in, and we’ll want to know about that.

When it comes to choosing the best for your landscape project preparation, there’s really only one way to go. Contact us  or get a quote. You’ll be glad you did.


Author: Holly Banghart

Holly, our senior designer and sales manager since 2010, brings expertise in design, industry certifications, and Master Gardener qualification. She crafts functional outdoor spaces tailored to clients' needs with manageable maintenance. Holly excels in conquering design challenges, turning yards into captivating landscapes. If you seek to enhance your outdoor space, Holly stands ready to transform your vision into reality.

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