Thursday, April 3, 2014

Planning the Garden - Know Your Garden Site

Envision the property - as it is.  Make notes of the sunny portions of the yard. Where is the shade most of the day? Is the site level or hilly? Check the drainage path directions - does the yard puddle in one area for hours after a hard rain?   Where is the soil very dry? Planning the garden will help the process for a rewarding garden experience.

Check out elements that cannot be removed, such as a neighbors garage, large trees, utility boxes,and power lines. Planning the inclusion of these elements may be easier if screens, shrubs, and vertical structures are incorporated into the garden.

Are there community restrictions regarding fences and other structures? Does a fence need to be open, wood, metal, or if the fence can come to the front of the dwelling on the property.  These elements will have to be part of the new landscape, so planning the garden around them will be less stressful when the actual construction of the yard has begun.

Fence line 
This view of the fence line to the back of our property which extends over 200 feet.  At this photo time, the bed was fifteen feet deep from the fence to the edge.  I determined that this size was more than I could care for easily, so we moved the edge to approximately five feet deep -   more in line with my style and energy.

The fence will be a back drop of any landscape plan. The fence is on the west side of the house, and usually has shade fall in front of it by early afternoon.  The morning sun warms this area until that time.

Side yard - South exposure

This is a hot sunny area of our backyard. South exposures (In the Northern Hemisphere) will get sun morning, noon, and afternoon. Full sun plants will thrive here as well as drought tolerant plants. Consider these elements when planning the garden of your dreams.

Utility cables 

Be aware of the utilities and make access to them. Service techs will not be concerned at all to be careful around your lovely plants. I've set in a few stepping stones between my plants (hint- hint) for the meter readers to use.
Bed  created along walkway

Many hardscapes can be utilized into the landscape. Patios, drives, and pathways are considered to be 'hardscapes'.   Walkways to the front door should be open and visible for visitors to follow. If shrubs are too high, or they are encroaching the path, the design will not be appreciated.  It will be aggravating and high maintenance keeping the plant materials within their boundaries. 

Ravine divides property

Hills, ravines, creeks, and other natural features will make the plan for a garden challenging.   

Terraced walls steep incline to shed

Terracing and bridges are charming, but may break the budget. 

Steps to deck above
Stairs need to be built to code, and handrails and risers should be sturdy.  No homeowner wants an accident on the premises, or a potential lawsuit.  Local zoning departments will give the specification for your space.  

Cleared space 
So, when planning your space the gardener need to consider 1) the Size, 2) the Exposure - N, S, E, W.  3) The Style that appeals to the sensibilities of the gardener., and  4) The Budget - reality can be harsh, but sticking to a budget will relieve post-construction regrets.

Take the time to plan your space.  Note that we haven't even talked about plants.  That step is next, but often jumps the line.   Keep to this process of planning the garden for a successful, rewarding gardening experience.