Intro to Landscape Specs

Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about preparing landscape specs and sharing some tips to consider on your upcoming commercial projects. 

Before you start creating specifications, let’s look at two things to help guide you in the right direction. 

Will the specifications be included in a (project specs) project manual?  

If so, then following all of the recommendations and formats will undoubtedly be required, and the landscape sections are prepared in the same manner as other required sections. Even if the landscape work is being issued separately, it is still good practice to follow the recommendations as they are standard practice in North America.

Will the project include hardscape or softscape?

You’ll need to decide if the project will include hardscape (paving, curbs, retaining walls, etc.), softscape (plantings, irrigation, etc.), or both? Most landscape projects do include both. It may be advantageous to coordinate some sections, like paving and concrete site walls, with other project consultants such as civil, structural, and architectural, to avoid duplicating efforts. After all, concrete in a site retaining wall is essentially the same as the concrete in a basement wall. There may also be an irrigation consultant on the team in some cases, and they can assist with the irrigation specifications.

After these considerations are sorted, your specification writing for landscape sections is quite simple, as many of the necessary sections will be nearly identical to those used for architectural work. Concrete paving is essentially the same whether it is in a road or walkway, with perhaps enhanced finishes for walkways. 

A few things to consider when writing landscape specs: 


Concrete: For use in paving, footings, site walls.

Masonry: Walls, site features.

Metals: Railings, planter boxes, edgings.

Woods: Decks, trellises.

Joint Sealers: For joints in paving and vertical elements.

Finishes: Paints, stains, and coatings.

Specialties: Flagpoles, firepits.

Earthwork: Fine grading, topsoil. Civil typically handles major earthwork.

Exterior Improvements: Paving, site furnishings, plantings, irrigation.

Specifications for trees, shrubs, and ground covers are typically relatively short, covering basic materials and procedures like planting mix. The actual plants are scheduled either on the drawings or at the end of the specification section.

View a complete list of landscape specifications