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Monday, August 30, 2010

Common Sense Planning

Every so often I venture across the borders to make an important point. Take a minute to read this linked article about an endangered wildflower in Wales. Trevor Dines of charity Plantlife Cymru points out, "Incorrect site management is the number one threat to our wild plants and flowers.”

It doesn’t stop at wildflowers or an endangered species. On a larger scale, improper site management can have devastating effects on existing trees, shrubs, a site’s drainage and its stabilization not to mention its aesthetic impact. A property’s resources add monetary value. Therefore, it is common sense to assess and evaluate the site prior to moving dirt. But often times, it is overlooked as a cost-cutting measure but the real expense shows up later in the process.

With site development, the objective is to maximize all existing attributes and resources while minimizing its impact. One quick example is protecting existing trees integral to a site’s structure planting. If an excavator comes in and destroys valuable elements to a property, it is often too late to save a mature tree that has been banged up. This tree may have served multiple purposes from stabilization to aesthetics.

So how do you transition from a vision on a piece of paper and apply it to actual site conditions? This can be very subjective but common sense is necessary. The important but often overlooked answer is ‘in the field’. The design process does not end at the drafting table; it is ongoing. There should always be a back and forth dialogue between design and implementation throughout the project. When a site’s development is improperly managed, there is an enormous impact on the overall cost and can cause long-term damage with drainage and other issues that are not apparent in the short-term. When you hire a contractor, make sure there is a clear, delineated understanding of site conditions and a strategy to execute your project.

Handle a site’s resources with care. This requires technical experience, a subtle hand and a clear strategy. Exceptional created landscapes address the transition zone between existing and proposed conditions or its elements. In the end, you should not be able to delineate the interface between old and new.

This begins with proper site management. Don’t cut costs early in the process. Whether it is an endangered wildflower, a mature tree, or an existing landform, the elements of the site must be integrated into your vision prior to breaking ground.

To end today’s entry; let’s wrap it with an inspirational quote from C.E. Stow. “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.”

Image of Deptford Pinks in Wales - From BBC article
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)