© 2019 Simon Orchard Garden Design

Site survey and analysis

Measuring up

Before we start designing your dream garden, we come out to visit you to conduct a full garden survey and thorough site analysis.

The garden survey involves measuring up the whole garden with a long tape measure and laser distancer. Everything in the garden is surveyed from the position of the boundary fences to the existing hard landscaping, positions of trees and other features in the garden. We also note where windows and doors are in your house and their heights (very important so that we can consider what you will be looking out onto from inside the house). Levels are also calculated so that we can work our if we need to include any steps in the garden design (and how many) or the heights of retaining walls if we are going to transform a sloped garden into flat terraced areas.

 

In some instances, we may recommend that a specialist surveyor is commissioned to conduct a topographical survey; this is usually the case on large or complicated sites with a lot of level changes. We will be able to recommend a supplier to carry out the survey.

 

Plant inventory

During the visit we will take an inventory and mark the positions of all existing planting – perennials, shrubs, trees, climbers etc. We’ll have an initial chat with you to discuss if there are any particular plants that you definitely want to keep, what might be re-sited, and what could go. We always try to incorporate existing planting but sometimes we might suggest that an under-performing or poorly-sited tree or shrub is removed. We’ll also ask you if any of your trees have TPOs (tree preservation orders) and if your local council has any restrictions on the removal or pruning of trees.

 

Site analysis

A crucial part of the site visit is the site analysis where we take time to observe your garden and make a note of anything that might be important when it comes to coming up with the garden plan. We will be considering everything from:

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  • What is the condition of the fencing and if we change the levels in the garden how will this affect the existing fence line
     

  • What type of soil you have – sandy, clay, chalk, loam – and is it compacted or very stony. We’ll also conduct a PH test to see if you have acidic or alkaline soil. This information will help us when we complete the planting plan so that we choose plants that will thrive in your garden.
     

  • Whether we need screen unsightly views such as a neighbour’s old shed, or whether you need shelter-belt screening from wind or from a noisy road.
     

  • Is the plot flat or on a slope and are there any issues with drainage?
     

  • Where is the sun tracking across your garden and whether you might need some shade from the midday sun. This will also help us to avoid putting your herb garden in a shady area which is better suited for your potting shed.
     

  • We’ll note the style and architecture of your house and surrounding buildings and what type of materials these are constructed from, and we’ll observe what is beyond your property boundary – do you have a wonderful view that we should preserve or are there some large mature trees that might leave your garden in shade for most of the day.
     

  • What access does the garden have and will the landscape contractors be able to bring in diggers if required or are they going to have to bring in all materials in barrowloads through the house. This latter scenario will also impact on the size of any trees that are chosen.
     

  • What are the key sight-lines from inside the house? If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen in front of the window, we want to ensure you have something spectacular to look out onto.

 

Once we've completed the garden survey and site analysis, we're ready for the exciting bit - creating your unique garden design.