Landscape Design Online Anywhere, Anytime, or Local in metro Atlanta, GA and 316 E. to Athens, GA, or up to 4hr drive to GA, SC, NC, AL, TN, or anywhere Non-stop Flight from ATL  Sitemap  Design_Process  Design_Online   Presentations  Waterfalls  Swimming_Pools  Waterfalls  Decks  Landscape Lights  Tennis  Equestrian Estate  Horse_Farm Mansion  Retaining_Walls  Project1  Project2  Project3  3D_Estate1  3D_Estate2  GIS to landscape plan  Resume Fees Email  FREE ONLINE CONSULTATION!  I will answer your questions and demonstrate my unique skills and tools. We will virtually fly over your property and drive along your street , while we discuss your needs, and my fitness to serve you.

I have been master planning estates for 25 years, and I can tell you with all certainty that my techniques are the most innovative, informative, empowering, and cost effective techniques ever devised.  Not to be confused with cheapest, my techniques are an uncommon value by providing insights not available by any other method.  You and I walk around your new home and landscaping before you knock down a single tree.  You don't have to worry about making uninformed decisions that effect your home in ways you canít anticipate. Please see also 3d site plan  and tennis for more recent projects using Google Earth and presentations for rendered 3d designs. 

A Survey typically contains property lines, constructed features, and contour lines.  Each pair of contour lines delineates a rise or fall equal to the contour interval that is specified by the contour line labels.  Subdivision developers are required to have these drawn by a registered landscape architect or civil engineer.  A Plat is a legal document that contains your property boundaries and legal description of those boundaries.  It may also delineate constructed features such as buildings and pavements.  You should have one in your closing papers.  Please click thumbnails to view images.

After we located the ideal homesite by placing flags and survey tape in the wooded lot, we located the best drive location from the road to the homesite.  This allows clearing the minimum trees to suit our needs.  Unnecessary clearing is wasteful.
We worked together to arrange rooms to take advantage of views of the lake, the slope of the land, existing trees, prevailing winds, and solar orientation.  One of my 3D design tools displays accurate sun angles and shadows for any location, month, day, and time.  This is very important when designing a new home because I can save you cooling and heating costs for the life of the home!   I studied energy conscious architecture under a PHD in architecture while in landscape architecture school, but I'm not attempting to replace one. My preliminary floor plan shows activity locations and access lines.  The access lines determine which areas should directly connect to other areas.  We haven't yet set up walls, or room sizes.  When I was given the ideal rooms sizes, I made scale sized shapes and arranged them following our conceptual plan, and resized the floor plans to fit those shapes.  I modified the conceptual shell to fit these new room size specifications, and added some things that came to mind as we discussed the goals, possibilities, and limitations.  A principal criteria of the design program is to design a dream home for easy retirement living, with an in-law wing that will also serve for in-home 24-7 nursing care.  Nursing homes charge $4000 per month and rising, so private in-home care makes sense on many levels.  We will need an architect for the interior and structural details.
I created a revised house shell from the revised floor plans.  I sketched the drive alignment, traced it in AutoCAD, and inserted it into one of my 3D design programs for integration with my 3D contour model.  Changing the level of your main floor effects grading and expense in ways you canít anticipate.  I can make revisions, and create new alternatives in a few hours at a cost of a few hundred dollars, instead of waiting until equipment is running and expensive crews are standing around waiting for you to make decisions without the benefit of my experience, and revolutionary methods.
We agreed on the exterior finish materials, roof pitch, etc, and I built a conceptual house shell, and hardscape based on our floor plan and my understanding of the site slopes, views, solar orientation, drainage, existing tree cover, etc.
I designed conceptual drives and grades to facilitate holiday traffic and wheeled access to all areas.
After designing the house and surroundings, I placed them into the contour model to design the retaining walls and grading.  The 5ft contour model was much better than anything any one else has, but it's too crude for detailed site work.
I made a smooth surface model from the 5ft stepped contours.  It looks more familiar (the odd colors are to help me determine layers) but the slopes are nearly useless for calculating retaining walls and manipulating the slopes.
I found a way to interpolate (subdivide) the contours.  That means equally dividing each contour into equal parts.  I divided each 5 ft contour into 5 1ft contours from which I built a 1ft stepped contour model.  There are many advantages to this degree of detail even though the source was a USGS topographical map which is 20ft contour intervals.  This marks another quantum leap in 3D contour model generation!  I can make a 1ft contour model using maps and satellite photos that I get from NASA.  These resources cover the entire USA, and much of the world. If you don't have a site specific survey, I can make one for you!
I am using my 1ft contour model to design paths and ramps connecting all exterior spaces.  We will use asphalt which is very cost effective.  Asphalt is more flexible than concrete, or stone, so it is ideal for wooded area paths because tree roots won't cause it to crack.
We are designing retaining walls to minimize clearing and grading.  This approach is cost efficient in several additional ways. The lower walls which will be back filled will be poured before grading starts.  The excavated earth will be used to backfill the poured retaining walls, and foundation walls instead of piling it up for a year and moving it a second time.  The earth that isn't needed for backfill will be used to raise the 300+' drive.  All of the rough grading will be finished before carpenters begin.  The retaining walls will eliminate steep slopes that are expensive to plant, and difficult to maintain. The walls and dry streams will eliminate ditch erosion.  We will have minimal turf areas that are gently sloping.  We will protect and preserve the woods.  The existing trees on the south and west exposures will provide shade and save air conditioning cost for the life of the home.
We have met online 4 times to refine our design.  Each time has been thrilling and fun!  I can change my 3D model easily, but I leave a crumb trail of partially complete models just in case a major change, or backtrack is needed.

Each refinement provides new opportunities.  Some refinements are revisited, and refined further till the ideal solution is determined.

We eliminated the patio in favor of screened porch and level turf area.  We determined to avoid walls in excess of 30 inches to avoid code required railings that would impede the magnificent view.
Since we are going to have dry streams to handle storm water, it makes sense to plan for a waterfall.  The water will be pumped from the lake and drain back to the lake via the dry stream network.   We will make the dry streams from egg size and pecan sized river gravel.  Since the view to the waterfall will be so attractive, it makes sense to expand the sunroom in the basement to include the gym.  The sunroom views will be spectacular!
I interpolated the 5' contours into 1' contours that I'm using to engineer the grading, retaining walls, drainage, and naturalistic stream that will carry the water from the waterfalls back to the pond.  The dry streams that serve this dual purpose will be lined with PVC and mortar with imbedded river stones and gravel  The pump and lights will be activated by remote controls.  My grading and drainage design is easy to read in this image that is color by layer.  I use layers to group similar object types.  Textured images and accurate shadows give you a level of realism never before possible for this size budget.
My 3D models are to scale, so they can be used to create architectural plans, elevations, and details.  My 3D contour model creation and manipulation is revolutionary, and will empower you with a level of understanding never before possible.  My techniques will relieve the stress of making choices by demonstrating the effects of those choices.  I save a crumb trail of partially completed models so even major course corrections are easy to explore. 
My 3D model also serves as a siteplan and grading plan.  I will add landscaping next.
If you hire any other landscape designer you will have to be able to read a siteplan without benefit of the invaluable insights and inspirations gained via my unique methods.  As an added bonus; this is thrilling and fun!  Please see also 3d site plan  and tennis for more recent projects using Google Earth and presentations for rendered 3d designs.

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 david[at]signaturelandscapes(dot)com  or voicemail at:  706-543-3395

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