Planning a Planting: Site Preparation Considerations

  • Trees that are in your work area need to be considered a future item.  If the health of the tree is questionable, is it a treatable condition?  What if the effort to save it fails, what will be involved in removing it once our renovation is completed?  If the tree needs corrective pruning, then now is the time to address those needs before new plants are installed and put at risk of damage.
  • Do you expect to add irrigation or lighting in the future?  Main lines for irrigation can be installed for later use; conduit for cable runs can be put in place along with gas lines and drainage tile.  The underground work that can be done in advance saves considerable disruption of your project in the future.
  • Be certain to plan for conduit to be in place under all paving work for future access.  Even if never used it is worth the minimal cost to install it.
  • Are there drainage issues that need to be addressed?  Will existing trees or other plants be affected by changes in the drainage?  Too often trees will begin to show signs of declining health years after drainage changes have affected them.  Usually by the time decline shows, it’s too late to save the tree.

Here are some of the important “now” considerations.

  • Do you need to apply for any permits?  Has a “Call Before You Dig” service been contacted to locate and identify underground utilities?
  • Now is the time to address all drainage issues.  Always be certain that casual water drains away from structures such as your home.  All plants need water to survive but most plants that you have in the landscaping will not tolerate “wet feet.”  Drainage is critical for good plant health.
  • There are some tasks in site preparation that are best left to a professional, such as tree removal.  Do you have these services scheduled?
  • The sweat equity that you intend to invest in this project will require certain tools or equipment.  Will these tools be available to you when you need them?  Not having the right tool for a specific task is an aggravation that benefits no one.
  • Have arrangements been made to obtain the materials you’ll need to prepare the site?  These may include topsoil needed to raise and improve planting beds, or to re-grade and improve lawn areas.  You may want to incorporate humus into the planting bed soil for healthier plantings.  Types of gravel may be needed as base materials for paving work.

We’ve given you a lot to think about.  Finally, it’s time to dig in and get your hands dirty.  With proper planning, your new outdoor space should provide satisfaction in a job well done, added value to your home, and everyday enjoyment for many years to come.