Design Class: 5 more site conditions to look for before designing

In our last Design Class we introduced  5 things to be on the lookout for in your garden or landscape: Orientation, Noise, Privacy, Drainage, and Access and Movement.  Observing how these things work gives a solid foundation to begin design work. This week we're going to add 5 additional things that are helpful to understand.

6.  Gradients and slopes

You’ll know if your block or your garden is sloping.  It’s also useful to know which direction it slopes, where the high points are, and if the slope is even or varied.  

7.  Existing vegetation

What is already there, where is it, and what condition is it in?  You can do this exercise for all vegetation, including trees, shrubs, groundcovers and climbers. Are there plants that change with the seasons, or have distinctive form, foliage, colour, scent, texture or flowers? 

8. Soil conditions

Even without carrying out a pH test you’ll have some idea about the condition of your site soil based on what’s growing successfully in your garden and nearby.  Similarly, looking at building sites or excavations in the area, and chatting to neighbours, is a good way of understanding the basic local geology before your engineer orders a geotechnical investigation. 

9. Services and utilities

Apart from overhead power lines, you mightn’t know exactly where service lines occur, but there are often tell-tale clues to their existence.  Manhole covers in the street or footpath outside your property are a clue to the presence of underground services.  Drains and pits often signify underground stormwater or sewer services.

10.  Special highlights

Are there any treasured parts of the garden that either work really well now, or have great personal value, such as a plant grown from one in your mother’s garden, a beautiful architectural element, or a favourite piece of sculpture?  

In future posts we will start looking at different ways you could respond to the findings of your site analysis. This is where it gets interesting, as two people might agree that a site has the same characteristics, but feel that different responses are required. That's where design comes in!

Now it’s over to you.

Has this exercise encouraged you to look at familiar scenes in a new way? It's only natural that if you find delight in chasing sunny spots in your garden, you may not have even noticed that some of the access points are a bit awkward, or that some garden areas don't drain very well.

Let me know in the comments section.

Of course, if you found this interesting and useful, why not double the fun and share it with a friend.