A site analysis is just your basic "make sure you thought of everything before landscaping" checklist. Of course, with every landscape and design being unique, there may be other considerations not mentioned here.
Besides what you expect from your new landscape now, you should also try and think ahead in days, weeks, months, and years. Not just today. I know it can be hard to think of everything that could possibly happen or change. Just keep this in mind.
- Existing plants and trees and their relation to the landscaping and your new design should be noted. Do some trees need to be removed or changed? Will shade from existing trees affect plant selection, structure placement, pond placement, or activity areas? Are there areas where you'll want more shade?
- Observe views from the outside of the house looking in and (most folks forget this one) from the inside looking out. Your view from inside the house can be just as pleasing as being outside in the garden. If you want to see it, consider placement of large structures and plantings. Cute little plants grow up to be big plants. Can existing or newly planted shrubs, plants, or trees be used to either enhance or block out certain views? Or noise? Do you need more protection or privacy in the front or back yard?
- Consider the wind current and strength in your landscaping. Do you need plants or other elements such as walls or fences to be used as wind screens?
- Do slopes or land elevations need to be changed to accommodate for water drainage? Will steps or terracing need to be installed for slope or elevation changes?
- Locate all utilities and mark them on your plot map. Always, always, always call before you dig.
- What are your needs as a person or family? Functional and practical landscaping should be considered an outdoor extension of your home. There should be activity areas outside just as there are inside your home. These areas might include a living area, play area for the kids, work area, public or entertaining area, entrances, and flower or vegetable garden areas. The outdoor areas should be natural extensions of your indoor areas. For instance, the work area should extend off of the garage or utility room and the entertainment area should extend off of the kitchen or family living room.
- Vehicle access to the back parts of the yard should be considered. Should a large gate be installed in the back fence?
- Maintenance? Do you want low, medium, or high maintenance landscaping? Do you want shrubs you'll have to trim, plants to prune, leaves to clean up, a lawn to mow and water, a pool or pond to clean, a sprinkler system, etc.?
- Do you need more lawn area? Less lawn? How much? For what?
- Storage space for gardening equipment, trash, patio furniture, toys and play equipment?
- Fountains, waterfalls, pools or ponds? Consider the spaces needed for these and design around them or include them in the plan now.