Preparing a Planting Plan

A planting plan is a construction document that shows the location, quantity, and other characteristics of vegetation to be planted in the landscape. It should be easy to read and understand.

Example of a planting plan showing plant symbols,quantity and botanical name of plants with neatly drawn leader lines. Image credit: Elspeth Briscoe Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Preparing the Planting Plan

Once the inventory, analysis , size and shape of use areas, paths and all other features have been determined,  the planting plan can be created. Specific plant species selection is the last element to be determined. Plans can be hand drawn or with simple residential landscape design software.

Choosing the Right Plants

Choosing which plants to use can be overwhelming. First determine where the plant will go, its size and form, pattern, texture, and color of the plants to be used. This will help narrow down which species are adapted your area.  Make sure that plants are appropriately hydrozoned for the conditions on the property and the local climate.

Plant Information


Minnesota – Plant Elements of Design: A Plant Selection Program


Florida – Educational Services


Idaho – Plant your Landscape: Plant Selection

The final plan should be to scale and show all of the areas on the property, including buildings, existing vegetation, other structures, and utilities.  Steps to creating a planting plan include the following.

There are many different ways to represent plants on the plan. The key is to keep the plan as easy to read as possible so that there is no confusion as to where the plants should be placed and how many should be planted. Every plan should have the number of plants listed next to the plant name.
Write out the name of the plant or use symbols or abbreviations and link them to a plant schedule.

The Plant Schedule

A plant schedule may be included with the plan. The plant schedule is a table that lists elements useful to the planter and can be used to identify plants from the plan. Items that should be included are common name, botanical name, quantity, size of materials purchased, and sometimes mature spread and price. Comments about the specific plant are sometimes included.  The plant symbol can be included in the plant schedule as well.

Steps for Creating a Planting Plan

1.   Create a base map showing existing structures, vegetation, utilities, slopes and drainage, and property lines

2.   Create an overlay using tracing paper on the base map or plan that shows all of the desired spaces such as vegetable garden, patio, walkways, lawn  and other areas

3.   Work with different shapes to create the best spaces

4.   Show all of the planting beds and their final shapes

5.   Show all hardscape elements

6.   Show existing vegetation to be saved and label as such

7.   Draw plants where they will go on the base map, keeping in mind mature size

8.   Clearly label the plant species by writing the names and quantities on the base map

9.   Use a different symbol for each species

10. Use relative sizes for the symbols (for example, show trees larger than shrubs)

11. Show the symbol at mature plant size at the right scale

Additional Resources:


Missouri – Developing the Landscape Design

Mississippi – Smart Landscapes


Florida – Landscape Elements for a Florida-Friendly Yard