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Lesson 2 - Surveying Your Backyard

Before commencing your landscape design you will need to collate certain information upon which the design will be based:

1. Study the environment of the site.
Climate - You will need to become very familiar with the climate of your site. Look at the direction of the prevailing winds, the annual rainfall, the time of the year it falls, annual temperatures, and whether frosts are experienced. All of these things will greatly influence your new design.

Climate, wind, temperature, frost, rainfall, etc. can vary greatly from place to place, even in the same town or city.

Have a look around your neighbours' gardens and see what plants are growing successfully there.

More detailed information on your local climate can be obtained in Australia from the Bureau Of Meteorology, which will be listed in your White Pages phone book, or by visiting their website at: www.bom.gov.au.

Microclimates - The environment can also vary significantly within the site. Buildings, fences and trees can block the passage of wind, create suntraps or shaded areas, etc. so that some parts of the garden are drier/wetter, hotter/colder, etc. than other parts. These modified areas are called microclimates.

Look around your garden to see where microclimates occur - some may be desirable, for example, you may have a moist shady area which would make an ideal fernery; others may need to be modified in your design.

Aspect - This is the direction that the block faces.
  • A northern aspect means that the front of your garden will receive sun throughout the day.
  • A southern aspect is shaded for most parts of the day, although it will receive sun in the late afternoon in summer.
  • An eastern aspect receives morning sun then is shaded in the afternoon.
  • A western aspect receives afternoon sun.

The ideal aspect depends on where you live. In southern Australia, northern or north-eastern aspects are desired, although you may need some shade in summer. In northern Australia, southern or south-eastern aspects are commonly preferred.
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