How to Plan a Landscape Design | HGTVA professional landscape designer starts with a property survey and topographical map, and then typically creates a series of conceptual sketches, preliminary elevations and final renderings as your vision evolves and crystallizes. Measure the area and transfer the basic dimensions to graph paper or input them in to an online design tool such as Google Sketchup. Visit the National Gardening Association for tips for drawing a landscape map. Next, plot the position of fixed features that you can't change, or don't care to, such as buildings, trees, driveways, yard entrances, hardscapes, views, irrigation systems and the like. Tip: In one corner of the paper, include a compass to remind you of sunlight and shadow patterns. To audition various concepts, use tracing paper overlays or multiple photo or electronic copies that allow you to try out with different form compositions, paths and proportions. It's not too early to include elements such as shrubs and patios drawn to scale and placed in different configurations on the grid. Don't overlook the practical details, such as the placement of irrigation and lighting systems, running electricity to the pond pump (or can you go solar?) Once you settle on a basic traffic pattern and the "bones" of the space, the fun begins as cryptic labels morph into cute green blobs, colorful flower beds and paver patterns. As in decorating a room, visualize how the colors, shapes, textures and patterns will work together. Landscape plans use symbols to indicate plants, hardscape materials, trees and architectural features. For example, hardscape areas should resemble the material and pattern to be usedzigzag rectangles for herringbone brick, random amoeba shapes for flag stone, little dots for gravel, and so on.