The starting point can simply be a good pruning or one of the following:

Consultation. To analyze an existing landscape or to provide an overview of how a new landscape might be developed.

Rejuvenation. To improve parts of an existing landscape with pruning, removals, and new plants where necessary, or by removing most or all plants in a particular area and starting anew.

Conceptual Plan. A quickly produced drawing with no scale that presents major landscape features, and allows the homeowner to proceed a la carte with the installation of functional things, such as fences, shade trees and shrub screens, within the context of an overall plan. Strictly used for large areas such as the front or rear yard.

Generalized Plan. A drawing to scale that yields good clues to what the landscape will look like, by identifying plant types and ultimate sizes, while forgoing specific plant names and materials.  This option and the preceding one spread design fees over a longer period of time, while permitting commitment to details closer to installation.  Applicable to both large and small areas.

Master Plan. This is where all the nuts and bolts reside.  Normally associated with an entire property, but used also to place a smaller area in ready to install status.

It is never too early to inquire about a landscape project, as substantial lead time is recommended to synchronize plant installations with early spring or early fall when rainfall, temperature, and inventories are at the most favorable levels.