How do we measure up?

6 Jun

Finally we had a break in the rainy weather and a spare day to spend together in the garden.  Not that much has changed, don’t get too excited, it was a baby step kind of day.  There is so much to do before we actually get started with the creating part.  Lots of dreaming and designing, and redesigning and redreaming until we get our ideas straight.  Plus, we need to remove the telegraph pole Bangalow Palms.  If we had a huge garden these palms would be fantastic and we could work with them, but given our limited space and their size, they just look like huge telegraph poles, and unfortunately for them their days are numbered.

It's only when you look up really high that you can tell that it's actually a palm tree and not a telegraph pole!

So, instead of turning soil, digging holes and planting plants, we took the first tentative steps in the design process, which are much more important than any other.  We undertook a site inventory.  It was a team effort.  The Drama Queen was the boss, Mr Perfect was strictly under her instruction, and the Daredevil ended up with a lumpy grazed head!

The Drama Queen and the Daredevil working hard

What did we do and why did we do it? or Landscape Design lesson number 1

Before you start any landscape design process you need to take stock of your site and undertake a site inventory which then leads into a site analysis.  There is no way you can design something new when you don’t know what you’re working with. On a large site, this might be easier done by a professional surveyor, but if your site is small and simple, like ours, you can do it yourself with a tape measure, a scale rule and a bit of time.

A site inventory needs to collect all the base information about your site.  You need to know the following:-

The shape and size of your yard – if you have a site survey use this as a base – it’s better to use information at your disposal than to recreate everything.  The aerial photo function on Google Maps is also a great place to start if you’re in an area that has good resolution.  We had nothing, so measured the whole yard from scratch.

The Drama Queen and Mr Perfect measuring the yard

Any site features – do you have any stairs, taps, retaining walls, slopes, seats, paving, cubby houses – basically anything.  You need to know what they are, where they are and what condition they are in.

Any existing vegetation – Are there trees, gardens, shrubs, lawn?  Is there anything green and is it worth keeping?  If you want to remove any trees you will probably need to start talking to your Council about getting permission to remove them now.

What is the topography? – Is the site flat? Is there a slope? How much of a slope.  This is a tricky one to measure without a dumpy level, we were lucky and could set a level on the bricks of the house.  You could also set up a string line with a spirit level (similar to a brick layer) and measure the difference.

What is your soil like? – Sandy? Clay? loamy? The best way to tell is to dig it up and have a feel, get your hands dirty.  Can you feel the sand in it?  Is it really heavy and sticky? or does it have a lot of organic matter in it?

What is your aspect? – which way is north? This is important in terms of solar access and deciding which areas of your garden are to be used for what.  You don’t want to put a vegetable garden in an area that gets no sun.

When you’ve collected all this information, you’ll have a pretty good snap shot of what you’ve got to work with.  This is your canvas. It might not be blank, but it’s your starting point.  It might look like a huge mess of information on the page until you take the time to tidy it up and draw up a base plan, but you have what you need to get started.

Yes, it looks like a mess, but all the info is there to get started.

Now, to go and make that mess of information real pretty!

The Drama Queen's seeds have sprouted, now we need to work out where to plant them

Oh, and find a home for the Drama Queen’s seedlings – she’s so very proud of them!



2 Responses to “How do we measure up?”

  1. Julie Valenti June 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    That’s the best side of Mr Perfect I have seen.



  1. Analysing the landscape « drawnoutdoors - April 18, 2012

    […] a pretty logical path to follow. When you’ve prepared your base plan, see how we did here at How do we measure up?, You need to take stock and assess what you have. You need to get out your coloured pencils and […]

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