If you are planning to renovate your backyard, it’s important to carry out a site survey. During the survey, you should assess a number of factors including, type of soil, existing plants, wind exposure and location of underground systems. The survey should enable you know how best to carry out backyard renovation to end up with a beautiful landscape design. Follow the checklist below to analyze your outdoor site.

Check Existing Site Plan

Get information about your site from an existing plan. For example, find out about the property boundaries, house location, major trees and driveways. Usually, you can find your property site plan at the local building department. Enlarge the plan to a reasonable scale (1:100 is recommended). Make a copy of the plan so that you can make notes on it.

If your site does not have a plan, draw your own. Use a graph paper to establish proper scale.

TIP: Don’t assume the borders are always straight. When measuring the site, double-check to confirm the borders and location of major structures in the compound.

Find the North

When you establish the north, you can design your outdoors to take advantage of sunlight throughout the year. Any site plan drawn by an architect usually has a north point. If your existing plan does not have one, use a compass and track the sun’s movement throughout the day to determine its various positions. Plot the positions of the sun at various times of the day on key points on the site plan.

Determine Best and Worst Views

Determine the best and worst views of the outdoors. Depending on the location of your property, the best outdoor view could be inside the garden, next to a tree or in front of a distant noticeable landmark. Determining the best views is important as you will know where to position sitting areas.

Mark the Key Features

During the survey, note any major features and/or structures on the site. For example, you should mark the decks, arbors, pools, paving, driveways and sheds. Even if you don’t plan on keeping these structures during backyard renovation, noting their location is important as plans can change. Apart from this, mark on your plan any structures, trees or plants that you would not wish to remove during the renovation.

Assess Levels

During the site survey, take note of any sloping areas. This is important as you will need to place outdoor tables and seats on a level ground. If your compound has a steep slope, you may have to construct retaining walls to make the ground flat. When moving the soil, get it to a different part of the site instead of removing it. This work would be best done by a professional.

Check Soil and Drainage

Check the type of soil in different places at your backyard to know the best areas to plant trees and a garden. If the whole backyard has poor soil, you may need to use compost or fertilizer should you want to plant a garden.

The drainage of the soil should also be considered. Areas that retain a lot of water may not be good for planting trees. To test the drainage, dig a hole about 20 inches deep in the ground and fill it with water. If the water remains for a couple of hours, the area has poor drainage and this will have to be considered when planting.

The success of your backyard renovation exercise will depend to a large extent on your plan. Follow the tips above to analyze your outdoor site before renovation.