William Moss: Whether you are a beginner or a master gardener, a site analysis will help your garden grow better. Here is how you do it!
First, you need to know your light patterns. In a sunny space like this, trees, grass, and vegetables will grow very well, but if we've got a shady patch, we've got to look for things that are more from woodlands or wild flowers, stuff like that.
Also, you need to check out any structures that are around. Look overhead, are there any power lines, how is the tree canopy. You also want to check for structures; garages, AC units, even beehives. You just don't want to plant too close to those to cause trouble for the structure or limit the plants.
Next, let's talk about paths. Be aware of where people walk, and where children play. These are no plant zones. It will save you a lot of trouble, and keep your plants healthy.
You should know to make a simple sketch. It doesn't got to be a professional landscape drawing, you just want to put down the basic areas; what's sunny, what's shady, what you're thinking about planting, where the overhead lines are, where the tree canopy is, just make some simple notes on your page. That way, when you go to the garden center, you kind of an idea of what you can and can't grow.
Also, use your notes to think about where you want to add your hardscapes, where do you need a bench, where would a raised bed will be nice, or a terrace wall or a retaining wall. All these different things are great garden elements, but you need to review your notes first, so you put them to the most use to get the most enjoyment out of it. Your site analysis helps you get organized and is your first step to a great garden. Get out and grow!