Do-it-yourself landscape design of the site: planning, relief assessment, site analysis

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This article will help you understand where the landscape design of the site begins. We will tell you about preliminary planning, how to take into account the relief and climatic features of the area, how to independently conduct a preliminary soil analysis.

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

Is it possible to arrange landscape design on your own

In recent years, the concept of “landscape design” has become a part of everyday life. Garden and backyard plots cease to be boring “6 acres”, with a standard set of vegetable beds, several fruit trees and a gazebo concocted from improvised material, to which an asphalt path leads.

More and more often you can see well-groomed, sustained in a certain style areas on which lawns, flower beds, alpine slides, reservoirs, garden architectural forms are thoughtfully planned. Plots where each tree, each stone has its place, and all together creates a unique landscape that reflects the tastes and moods of the owner. This, in fact, is landscape design..

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

For its device, step by step, a set of works on landscaping, landscaping, equipment of recreation areas is carried out. It may seem to an uninitiated person that to create such a thoughtful, man-made, but at the same time one with nature beauty, large material costs and the services of a professional designer are needed. Of course, for the device of landscape design on large areas adjacent to mansions and villas, it is best to use the services of a design bureau dealing with this particular type of activity. But to equip a small area near your house or dacha with your own hands is quite realistic.

Moreover, the landscape design, made independently, will not only be a faceless model ideally arranged according to all the rules, but can become a unique reflection of the taste, sense of style, preferences and talent of its owners. Dealing with the device of garden design itself makes sense from the point of view of economy. The services of a professional designer are not cheap, and the money saved in this way can be usefully invested in the landscape design of your garden plot.

A series of our articles will help you with this, in which detailed descriptions, step-by-step instructions and tips will be given, with the help of which, step by step, from the “zero” cycle, you can independently perform almost all the work necessary for the device of landscape design of the site. We will try to give answers to all questions that may arise during the work..


So, the decision on the arrangement of landscape design for the personal plot has been made. The very first step to take should be initial planning. This is a kind of “first look” at the future landscape design.

First of all, it is worth drawing a plot plan on paper. Most often, plots are of the correct shape – rectangular, square, trapezoidal. However, sometimes the plan contains sharp corners, bends, etc. It is necessary to take into account all these features of the shape of the site, beating them favorably.

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

It is necessary to try to imagine how the site might look like, on which all buildings and all objects of future landscape design will be located. Where will the recreation area and playground be located? Will there be a full-fledged pond on the site, or is it better to limit yourself to a small fountain? Do you need an alpine slide? Will there be a vegetable garden and a garden with fruit trees on the site, or will the gardening be only decorative? In a word, you should think over a plan, taking into account all your desires.

This initial sketch is best done as a sketch, not strictly to scale. Assessment of the terrain, soil and climatic characteristics of the site can make significant adjustments to the original plan. Also, changes in the original plan can occur when choosing the style in which the landscape design will be performed..

Terrain assessment

Assessment of the terrain relief is primarily necessary in order to determine the ways of the most rational and competent use of the relief given by nature. Of course, there are ways to radically change the landscape, but even a non-professional understands that the most successful and durable examples of landscape design were arranged with maximum regard for the relief and terrain features. The fight against nature will cost a lot of material and labor costs for the device and no less for maintenance. Therefore, it is better to embed all ideas for landscape design as much as possible into the natural landscape of the existing site..

An ideal option in this sense, one can call eco-gardens, which, being adapted to the human environment, are carried out with full preservation of the relief, soil, climatic resources of the site on which they are arranged.

However, the construction of an ecological garden is not possible in all areas. Sometimes you have to not only “fit” into the natural landscape, but also “tame” it. An example of this can be areas “on the relief”, or, conversely, areas with absolutely flat and “boring” relief. But in any case, it is necessary to be guided by the rule – it is better to emphasize all the advantages of the site than to deal with its shortcomings.

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

To assess the relief, it is necessary to go to the terrain with a ready-made initial plan. The eco-approach implies the maximum binding of the original plan to the relief forms – a mountain, a hill, a ridge, a hollow, a ravine. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account both the general relief of the area, a part of which covers the site, and its internal micro-relief. By the slope of the terrain, the relief can be classified as flat (no more than 0.3-7 cm per 1 m2), hilly (8-15 cm per 1 m2), crossed (20-50 cm per m2), mountain (80-100 cm per m2)

The flat relief does not require the construction of engineering structures in the form of retaining walls or ramps; in other cases, their construction will most likely be required.

If the relief of the site is very complex, then it is better to make a more detailed analysis using the services of specialists.

Soil analysis of the site. Harness method

So, after the relief has been assessed and all the planned objects have been “built into” it, a soil analysis of the site is carried out. It is necessary not only for landscaping devices. It is important to know what soils are located on the site to work with the base (underlying soils) in the improvement process. For example, when constructing a pond or terrace, during the work on which the soil moves. And also for the device of drainage and drainage systems. For a deep study of the soils of a large area, it is better to invite a specialist. You can independently determine the type of soil of your site using the so-called “harness method”. It should be remembered that the results obtained will be very approximate, however, for a do-it-yourself landscape design device, their accuracy is sufficient.

The conventional division of soils includes “light” – sand, sandy loam and “heavy” – clay, loam. In their pure form, even in small garden plots, they are rare, but you can always trace the dominant.

Research is best done when the soil is naturally moist, for example, in spring or after rain. Take a small amount of soil and roll into a “sausage” (tourniquet).

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

If the tourniquet forms poorly and crumbles, then the soil on the site is sandy.

If the tourniquet rolls down, and does not stick, and when you try to roll it again, it crumbles, then this is sandy loam.

If the tourniquet is formed in any way, it can be bent into a ring, but cracks form on the bends, and a repeated attempt leads to destruction, then this is loam

The rope is very well formed, when bent into a ring, no cracks form – clay soils.

For a more complete analysis, you need to take a closer look at the plants that grow on the site. If sow thistle, wild sorrel, coltsfoot are present, then these soils are clayey or loamy. A blizzard and field velcro are a sign of sandy loam. Bindweed and chamomile most often grow on the sands.

However, plants can show not only the composition, but also the level of groundwater. Mother-and-stepmother, for example, shows a high level of groundwater, and wormwood, on the contrary, is low.

In terms of the arrangement of engineering structures for landscape design, the most difficult underlying soil is mobile and eroded sandy loam. Drainage is most difficult on clays and heavy loams.

For landscaping work, you need to know the acidity of the soil. This can be determined on your own using table vinegar. Soil of neutral acidity or alkaline will “boil”, acidic soil will not react. For a more detailed analysis, you can use express tests or an ordinary litmus test. To do this, it is necessary to place the samples taken for analysis in different containers and dilute with boiled water..

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

Determination of the groundwater level is carried out by specialized organizations. It is difficult to independently obtain a 100% complete and reliable picture, since the groundwater level is influenced by weather conditions – late spring with abundant snow melting, a large amount of precipitation in summer. For the average determination of groundwater, wells are drilled with a depth of one and a half to two meters, when the groundwater has settled, the distance from the water surface to the soil level is determined with a measuring pole. Based on the data obtained, the need for a drainage system is determined. If the groundwater level is less than 1 m, then a drainage device is required. If 1.5 m, then it is recommended to avoid waterlogging. You also need to know the level of groundwater when constructing a pond, planting trees, etc..

Assessment of the climatic features of the site. How to make measurements correctly

The next step is to assess the climatic features of the site.

The location of the wind rose and the degree of insolation (illumination) determines how best to “unfold” the house so that you can comfortably use the veranda or balcony, where it is better to arrange recreation areas, what plants can be used for landscaping.

Ready data on the direction of air flows can be obtained from the local meteorological service. Methods exist to reduce northeastern, northeasterly, and northwesterly winds. They must be included in the landscape design project. For example, a multilevel hedge of wind-resistant shrubs, wind-resistant trees 2–4 meters high and tall wind-resistant trees 5–9 meters high, significantly reduces the wind force. Such a fence will provide protection from winds at a distance of about 100 meters..

Landscaping of the site with your own hands. Step by step towards achieving harmony with nature

For small areas, such a hedge is unsuitable, as it will create shade. In this case, wicker hedges, such as willow, low hedges, and sometimes plastic wind protection nets are provided..

To determine the level of insolation or the degree of illumination of the area, you must select a sunny day. On a pre-prepared plan at 8 am, mark the boundaries of shadows from existing buildings, trees, pillars. Repeat measurements at noon and at 17-18 pm. Each measurement is indicated by shading in a different direction. In the finished scheme, heavily shaded areas will be shaded with triple hatching, medium-shaded areas with double or single, and full-illumination zones in which the sun will shine during a full daylight hours will remain unshaded. A ready-made insolation plan is useful at all stages of landscape design for the correct orientation of zones, selection of plants, etc..

At this, preliminary planning and analysis of the features of the site can be considered complete..

The next article will tell you about the device of drainage systems, irrigation and irrigation systems, land reclamation and electrical wiring.

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