The first step in designing a garden is an honest evaluation of the chosen site. The area should be assessed for soil, sun exposure, problem areas and areas you want to complement.
Knowing what you are dealing with, before your start, will save you endless headaches. It's not as hard as it may sound. The following cheat sheet will walk you through the key elements for evaluating your site.
Once you are armed with this information, you can:
- Determine what plants will grow well there. Different plants favor different amounts of sun exposure, soil pH and water. Choose plants that are suited to your site and they will grow healthy,, with less work on your part.
- Ensure your garden will suit your lifestyle. If you know your kids or pets will be frolicking nearby, you won't be tempted to plant delicate low growing edge plants that will get trampled.
- Get the garden you envision. Knowing ahead of time that a utility pole or air conditioning unit is in view means you can plan and plant around it.
Of course your garden will always be a work in progress, but knowing your site and working with it will prevent you from having to fight it.
Garden Site Evaluation Check List
Hours of Sun Exposure:(Circle all that apply)
- Full Sun:...................More than 6 hours | 4-6 hours | 2-4 hours | 0-2 hours
- Partial Sun/Shade:..More than 6 hours | 4-6 hours | 2-4 hours | 0-2 hours
- Shade:......................More than 6 hours | 4-6 hours | 2-4 hours | 0-2 hours
- Dense Shade:...........More than 6 hours | 4-6 hours | 2-4 hours | 0-2 hours
Time of day of full sun:(Circle time spans)
6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | Noon | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Exposure To:(Check for "Yes")__________Notes_______________________________________
- Foot Traffic..._____
- Road Salt....._____
Type of soil:Sandy | Sandy loam | Loam | Clay loam | Clay | Silty loam | Silt
- Acidic (Less than 7.0)..._______
- Neutral (7.0)................._______
- Alkaline (Over 7.0)........_______
Access to water:Hose/Sprinkler | Irrigation System | No Access
List any Competing plants and trees:
- Buildings _____________________________________
- Play Areas ____________________________________
- Pet Areas _____________________________________
- Foundations ___________________________________
- Walkways _____________________________________
- Driveways _____________________________________
- Roads ________________________________________
- Utility Boxes/Poles/Wires _________________________
- Drain Pipes ____________________________________