Site Assessment for Better Gardens and Landscapes
By Charles P. Mazza
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Ever wonder why some gardens and landscapes look dazzling year after year, while others decline? Or why does a planting look great at one location while the same plant looks skimpy and unattractive nearby? The characteristics of the site determine whether a plant will thrive. Site Assessment for Better Gardens and Landscapes describes how to evaluate site characteristics that are important to plants.
Intended for novice gardeners, experienced gardeners, and landscape professionals, the 81-page spiral-bound book includes 50+ color photos, a glossary, an index, and references and web sites for further information. Through 30+ hands-on activities, soil type, drainage, sunlight, compaction, slopes, minimum and maximum temperatures, wind, existing plants, wildlife and more are evaluated. When you've gotten to know your property using this book, you'll have:
* A site sketch with information useful in preparing a landscape design.
* A notebook with information collected during the assessment.
* An inventory of existing plants including how they fit into future plans.
* A checklist of important site characteristics.* A draft landscape design with a prioritized to-do list.
Completing a comprehensive site assessment should be the first step when you purchase a property, make changes to a landscape, or expand a garden or landscape into a new area of your property. The assessment can be done in a few weeks or over a longer time. Site assessment saves time and money, helps avoid future problems, and results in an easy-to-care-for, sustainable garden or landscape.
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General Planning Information
Step 1: Garden and Landscape Area
Step 2: Obstructions Above and Below
Step 3: Sun and Shade
Step 4: Hardiness and Microclimates
Step 5: Wind
Step 6: Compaction
Step 7: Drainage
Step 8: Soil Characteristics
Step 9: Slopes
Step 10: Wildlife Interference
Step 11: Existing Plants
Step 12: Putting It All Together
Taking the Next Steps
References and Resources
Discoveries made during site assessment will have the following impacts:
- Plants that will thrive will be chosen for each area of the site.
- Plant replacement costs will be lower.
- The garden and lawn areas will have less risk of disease
- Conditions that stress plants will be identified and considered in the landscape design.
- More proficient and happier gardeners.
- Potential problems will be identified before they occur.
- Site modifications will be identified.
- an easy-to-care-for and sustainable landscape or garden.
Charles P. Mazza is the former statewide leader in the home-grounds and community horticulture extension program, including the Master Gardener Program, in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. In the department, he taught a horticultural problem-solving course for undergraduates, was a frequent lecturer in other horticultural undergraduate courses, and taught an online course in organic gardening for North America. He led the urban horticulture program for Cornell Cooperative Extension in New York City, was the assistant to the director and later headed the education program for youth and adults at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and served on the board of Green Guerillas, a community garden activist group in New York City. His career spanned four decades. He designed and cared for gardens in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He received a B.A. degree from Franklin and Marshall College in biology/botany, an M.S. degree in horticulture from Rutgers University and an M.P.A. degree from New York University. While retired from Cornell University, he is still active. He volunteers at Burnside Plantation, an historic farm in Pennsylvania, and gives educational tours at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia.Back to the Top