When it comes to garden design, plans and sketches help us to illustrate our ideas and bring a new garden design into reality. As the lines are drawn the forms, textures and the relationships between the spaces become clearer, so you can visualise the end result perfectly!

Garden design drawings are an essential part of the design process regardless of the size of the project, the more complex the design, the more important good quality drawings are. Often design drawings are prepared by hand or on CAD software such as Vectorworks, AutoCAD or Sketchup. All the elements of a drawing will be itemised, labeled, and will often include technical information where required.

Master plan drawing
Garden design sketch


There are several different types of drawings used in the garden design process, some of which I have elaborated on in more details below:

A scale plan drawing is often referred to as a Masterplan or Design Concept Drawing. These drawings help the designer to create a layout that works in the space and includes all the elements requested in the brief, showing the various aspects of the design proposals.

Masterplans are always drawn to scale; these are important tools for space planning and are where the Design Concept is normally developed. They consider your home’s location on the plot and which windows are adjacent to the garden to consider views. The plan will also show any existing features, which need to be incorporated into the final design; like trees, shrubs, fences, paths, garage blocks etc. However, as a plan they don’t show level changes.

Masterplan drawing

Axonometric Garden Design Drawings

Axonometric drawings are used to show the level changes or height differences in design features. Often used on sloping sites or when there are height differences in key features. The example below shows the difference in hedges and other planting as that’s important to understanding the design concept.

Axonometric drawing


Often quite stylised, Sketches are illustrative drawings, sometimes referred to as 3D renders which will show you how your new garden would look and how it would feel to be in that space.  Sketches are artistic impressions of the design concept and can vary based on what we are trying to convey.

Pergola Sketch

Normally the Masterplan and Sketches are created in the Design Concept Phase, the beginning of the project. Once the Design Concept is approved by the client, there may be a requirement for other more Technical Drawings in order to create the end result.

Construction Details Drawings

Construction Details Drawings, as the name suggests are technical drawings which show how various aspects of the garden should be constructed, for example retaining walls. Sometimes a structural engineer will be required to create these drawings.

Scale Drawings

Scale Drawings make it possible to calculate and order the correct quantity of materials, saving money, time, and inconvenience. Believe me it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to change plans on paper than it is to change a terrace or pathway once it’s built!

Planting plan drawing

Garden Design Planting Plans

Planting Plans are a detailed scale plan of all or part of the planting area. This shows which plants go where and how many, with a defined plant list. Latin names are used including specific variety, as this is required to obtain a quote from the plant nursery. A Planting Plan enables you to get the feel of the garden before the planting takes place and also enables us to get the correct quantity of plants.

Planting plan drawing


Elevations in Garden Design are normally a side view of the plot showing how the design will appear face on, to the viewer in one plane, normally to scale. They are often used in conjunction with Planting Plans to show how borders will appear.

Elevation drawing

Cross Section Garden Design Drawings

Cross Section Drawings are 2D sections through the site showing the level changes or different heights of features, they normally cut through the plot. Cross Sections differ from Axonometric drawings as they are 2D but also to scale. Often used as a tool for construction detailing of water features, supporting walls in sloping gardens etc.

Once a garden designer has considered the site and your requirements, they will be in a good position to create a fee proposal. At this stage they should have a clear idea of what drawings they intend to create in order to illustrate your design concept and they should be referred to in their proposal.

So, I hope this article has helped demystify the jargon, and given you some insight into what you will receive, as well as shining some light on the design process. If you are considering having your garden designed, please feel free to fill in our form where you can book a free phone consultation, to gain clarification tailored to your project.