Comprehensive Landscape Planning

LA 463

Paul F. Anderson

Adel project

Final presentations at the Adel fire station

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Final projects for Adel parks, greenbelts, and sports fields

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Educational objectives

  • Gain additional experience finding and selecting landscape data appropriate for master planning studies
  • Gain additional experience in inventorying and evaluating a large area based on published and unpublished data and on field observations
  • Practice interpreting landscape data based on a set of client criteria and professional criteria
  • Develop a series of alternatives and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages
  • Improve your abilities to communicate master plan information in oral, graphic, and written forms
  • Address a variety of master planning issues: clients, users, social, economic, legal, political, management, maintenance
  • Create a portfolio-quality master plan report or brochure that is well-written and well-illustrated

Landscape planning objectives

  • Use client criteria and professional criteria to help define tour concepts and example routes
  • Develop a set of conceptual alternatives for routes
  • Refine one of the alternatives into a schematic plan addressing themes, interpretation, sequencing, transitions, sites (attractions, events, accommodations), parking, buildings, outdoor activity areas, and their connections (pedestrian, vehicular, and visual)
  • Prepare recommendations for project implementation: staffing, design forms and materials, route corridor management, signage, construction phasing, cost estimates, and so on.


Every master planning project in this class requires a different approach and schedule. But there are many similarities. Here's a typical outline for a half-semester project:

WEEK  ACTIVITIES                                 PRESENTATION       % GRADE
1     Review and compare master plan reports     Master plan review   10%
2     Introduce project & site, organize tasks
2     Inventory site and visit clients           Inventory             5%
3     Program activities, facilities, policies   Program               5%
3     Analyze opportunities and limitations      Analysis              5%
4     Develop alternative concepts               Preliminary concepts  5%
5     Refine selected concept                    Refined concept      10%
6     Select area(s) for site planning
7     Develop implementation recommendations
7     Finish final drawings                      Final drawings       20%
8     Finish writing and typing                  Final brochure       20%
8     Present drawings and recommendations       Final presentation   20%
Total                                                                100%

Remember that this is an example. The schedule may need to be modified somewhat to fit the project we're working on. But this is a starting point.


Project 1


A major product of landscape planning projects is a master plan report or brochure. Typically, a report is produced in booklet form. For smaller projects, a brochure is typically produced in booklet form, flyer form, or folded sheet form. Master plan reports and brochures contain descriptions of the project and site, program, site inventory and analysis, concepts alternatives and policy recommendations, master plan drawings, and implementation recommendations (staff requirements, cost estimate, phasing, and so on).


One way to discover what master planning is and how it is done is to review professional master plan reports. You will be responsible for examining two reports and evaluating their contents. When you present your findings to class, we'll compare content and quality. This will give us an idea of common practice in master planning projects.

This will also give us a basis to create a list of tasks for our semester project, establish a schedule, follow a master planning process, and document the results in a master plan report or brochure.

What to look for

Organization of chapters or sections
Description of project, region, and site
Key factors, considerations, concerns, issues
Objectives, priorities, policies
Program of activities, facilities
Concept alternatives
Recommended plan and policies
Master plan drawings -- conceptual and schematic
Cost estimate
Implementation schedule or phasing
Staffing requirements
Public involvement
References, bibliography, data
Writing -- well organized, clear writing, good mechanics
Graphics -- appropriate, legible graphics
Report -- appropriate cover and binding


Wednesday 1/18 Select and review two master plan reports; meet with me

Friday 1/20 Meet with me and present a list of similarities and differences

Monday 1/23 Present a comparison of your reports' content and quality to class.

Use appropriate graphics to communicate and illustrate your comparison.

Tour Routes for Silos and Smokestacks

Project 2


Recently, Silos and Smokestacks was established in Waterloo as a private non-profit partnership dedicated to celebrating northeast Iowa's agricultural heritage. This includes people, places, and product innovations related to farming, food processing, and related technologies. Silos and Smokestacks attained national prominence when President Clinton signed Public Law 103-138 directing the National Park Service to conduct a feasibility analysis to determine whether the region's assets and role in US history meet NPS criteria for "national significance," qualifying it to become a part of the NPS system.

Silos and Smokestacks is envisioned as a network of new and existing sites and experiences which educate people about food systems and about agriculture as a way of life. According to a marketing consultant's report, "the Silos and Smokestacks concept represents a viable theme upon which to base a multi-site, multi-county tourism development initiative."

Major parts of the concept are (1) creating interpretive facilities for tourism and education, (2) designating highway routes for tourists, and (3) managing areas to maximize their educational value and enjoyment. Major management options include preservation, conservation, restoration, and development.

Silos and Smokestacks staff members asked us to help them (a) identify significant cultural and natural features in northeast Iowa, (b) develop alternative master planning concepts for tour routes, and (c) select example routes linking significant features in a logical, educational, and enjoyable way.



1. Use outline form to organize your material. Headings for chapters, sections, or other parts are helpful.

For longer reports, an overview and summary are also helpful:  
   (a) tell them what you're going to tell them, 
   (b) tell them, then 
   (c) tell them what you told them.

2. Keep your writing brief and to-the-point. Put longer explanations, background information, data, and other materials in appendices or in a separate volume.

3. Use a personal, conversational tone for easy reading. Don't use a stuffy, formal tone with lots of jargon.

Good:  One of my priorities is protecting the scenic view 
       at the main entrance.
Bad:   The visual quality at the beginning of the user's 
       experience should be considered as an important 
       factor in planning the overall sequence of movement
       at the entrance and throughout the entire site.

4. Use active voice and action verbs, rather than passive voice.

Good:  I created the major entrance at the southeast corner.
OK:    I decided to create the major entrance at the 
       southeast corner.
Bad:   It was decided to create the major entrance at the 
       southeast corner.

5. Use shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs. Avoid long, complicated sentences. Avoid unclear, awkward sentences.

6. Use good grammar and punctuation.

7. Use a spelling checker (program, person, or both) to avoid spelling errors that lower your credibility.

8. Use terms consistently throughout your writing. Avoid alternate terms that you think add variety to your writing but instead confuse readers.

Good:  The vegetation pattern is the controlling
       factor on the site.  Vegetation includes
       woody and herbaceous communities.
Bad:   The vegetation pattern is the controlling
       factor on the site.  Plant life includes 
       woody and herbaceous communities.

9. Use English words and phrases rather than Latin words, phrases, and abbreviations.

Good:  Some vegetation types (such as crops, woodland,
       and native grasses) require special management
       for interpretive programs, wildlife habitat,
       erosion control, and other special purposes.
Bad:   Some vegetation types (e.g., crops, woodland,
       native grasses, etc.) require special management
       for interpretive programs, wildlife habitat,
       erosion control, etc.

10. Ask someone to read your writing who can give you helpful suggestions to improve your writing.

Handy Tips for Writers

1. Don't use no double negatives.

2. Make each pronoun agree with their antecedent.

3. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

4. About them sentence fragments.

5. When dangling, watch your participles.

6. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

7. Just between you and I, case is important too.

8. Don't write run-on sentences that are too hard to understand because of their length and complexity, just to name two reasons of many that could be named.

9. Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.

Paul Anderson's home page

Last revision: 28 August 2000