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SITE ANALYSIS Sound decisions regarding land use rely on a process of evaluating the nature and condition of existing

resources, their potentials and limitations, and human perception of the value of the use to which theyre put. A site analysis is a description of these resources and their characteristics, a snapshot in time of a particular place. Perhaps nowhere is an understanding of the nature of a site more important than in the arena of public gardens, where success will largely be measured by how well the designer communicates a unique sense of place to those who experience it. The scope and structure of a site analysis may vary depending on the objective. Scientific researchers interested in the quantitative aspects of a site may choose to confine themselves to a physical description, including biotic, edaphic, hydrologic, climatic and topographic elements. Landscape architects are concerned not only with existing features but how to enhance and interpret them, include a consideration of the role those features will play in creating psychological impact. To that end, elements such as balance, transition, and history are significant. Three design-build architectural groups with national experience in the public garden area include: http://www.lakeflato.com/ http://www.mesadesigngroup.com/ http://jonesandjones.com/ Since public gardens tend to overlap both disciplines, weve included a fairly broad range of relevant factors to consider. CULTURAL FACTORS INFLUENCING SITE ANALYSIS Historic land ownership and use, landmarks, historical sites Land use patterns urban, agricultural and residential aspects of the area Traffic pedestrian and vehicular corridors adjacent to and through the site. Socioeconomic volunteers and community support

Cultural factors link the garden to people, communities, or regions. They are what determine, to a great degree, how potential users will identify with the site. Historic land ownership and use, landmarks, historical sites. The history of a site provides a frame of reference for its current use. Was it part of a colonial land grant, for instance, or belong to a well-known figure in the community? The changes that have occurred in it are also part of a places identity. It may have originally been part of a vast forest which was cleared to grow cotton and then became an orchard. Make note of any relics from a bygone era as well as historical sites such as an ancient oak beneath which a treaty was signed. Land use patterns urban, agricultural and residential aspects of the area. Patterns of land use adjacent to the site and in the surrounding area impact its character and should be included in the analysis for purposes of design. Traffic pedestrian and vehicular corridors adjacent to and through the site. Heavy industrial traffic may produce noise and dust which call for perimeter screening. A reproduction of a pioneer homestead could be an appropriate feature for a garden located in an agricultural region. A residential area may or may not be appropriate for outdoor concerts. Traffic patterns through and around the site affect access and the flow of visitors through the garden. Existing roads, trails, and paths represent established patterns and are usually difficult or impossible to eliminate entirely. However, an analysis may reveal opportunities to modify them for the benefit of the garden without disrupting the flow of traffic adjacent to the site. Socioeconomic volunteers and community support. A description of the socioeconomic characteristics of the community and region in which the site is located should be included in order to evaluate potential support for the project. By support we mean people willing to open their checkbooks and / or get their hands dirty. Weeds love cheerleaders. NATURAL FACTORS IN SITE ANALYSIS Climate wind, precipitation, temperature, means and extremes Topography aesthetic impact, trails and viewing areas, microclimatic variations Hydrology water sources, movement, opportunities and hazards Vegetation tree, shrub, and herbaceous plant profiles and associations Soils type, testing, distribution, uses and limitations Natural factors are what most people think of when they think about gardening, the factors that affect how well plants will grow or whether theyll grow at all.

Climate - Include data on seasonal wind direction, its duration and severity, and its association with storms. There should also be a review of the characteristic growing season of your area such as the number of days in it, temperature ranges and averages by month, and the average dates of the first and last killing frost in the Fall and Spring, respectively. A breakdown of precipitation and humidity patterns helps identify periods when you can expect your garden to be under stress. Topography Whether or not the site is hilly, rolling, or relatively level, topographic relief influences several aspects of the garden. Higher elevations such as hills and ridges offer natural vantage points for viewing large or distant areas as well as providing shelter from prevailing winds. They also offer the chance to create prominent displays of plants and other landscape materials which become focal points of the garden. Who can look at a high place and not wonder what the view is like from its summit? Overlooks frequently serve as the halfway point on a trail and are ideal places to provide benches and / or tables for resting, eating lunch, or just contemplating the surroundings. Elevation also influences microclimatic variation. Northern and eastern exposures tend to be cooler and moister than those on the south and west. The lowest elevations represent drainage and collection areas for water and cold air. Hydrology Water adds a unique charm to any garden. It may also be a hazard or impediment to visitors and construction. Record the location of all bodies of water whether they are present year round or intermittently. Rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, springs, seepage areas, marshes and wetlands and drainage areas should be included. They may become features of the garden or areas to avoid. Either way, its better to be aware of them before beginning the planning phase. Vegetation Unless the site consists of a bare piece of ground, take an inventory of the plants currently growing on your site so some of them, at least, can be included in the plan. It takes a long time to grow trees. Analyzing the vegetative characteristics will help create the most appropriate setting for the garden. Creech and Martindale (1992) state that The goals of vegetative analysis are to analyze the plant communities of a site and to relate species composition to edaphic and topographic variables. Pertinent data includes species and common name, diameter at breast height (4.5 ft. above the ground) and the location of the plant. From this can be derived values for species frequency and relative frequency, density and relative density, basal and relative basal area and the species importance. An analysis of these values is crucial to creating a picture of the natural vegetative patterns in the landscape. An evaluation of each trees health, vigor, and form is also important since it may be necessary to remove some of them. Measuring the height and crown diameter of the trees present is helpful in determining areas of optimal sunlight intensity for understory species.

MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS FOR VEGETATIVE ANALYSIS 1. FREQUENCY is the percentage of total quadrats which contain at least one rooted individual of a given species. Frequency = number of quadrats a species occurs in Total number of quadrats analyzed Relative frequency = frequency of a species sum frequency of all species x 100

x 100

2. DENSITY is the number of individuals per unit area. The number of plants rooted in each quadrat. The average density per quadrat of each species can be extrapolated to any convenient unit area. Density per quadrat = number of individuals of a species Total number of quadrats analyzed x 100

Relative density =

number of individuals of a species x 100 total number of individuals of all species

3. BASAL AREA (BA) is the area outline of a plant near the ground surface. It is obtained through diameter at breast height (dbh) measurements at about 1.5 m above the ground and the formula r2 , where r equals dbh , and equals 3.1417. Relative basal area = basal area of a species x 100 basal area of all species

IMPORTANCE VALUE = RELATIVE FREQUENCY + RELATIVE DENSITY + RELATIVE BASAL AREA Soils can be dug, tilled, amended, mulched and fertilized but seldom replaced. Our advice is to obtain a copy of the soil survey for your area. These are usually available through state Extension Service offices. Your site may include a single type of soil or several, each with distinct characteristics. Use the soil survey to locate and mark (roughly) their extents within the site. Collect a representative sample from each and have it tested. Your extension agent can provide information on sampling procedures and soil labs. Different soils have capabilities and limitations for construction purposes as well as plant growth, and just because its ideal for roses doesnt mean it will make a good road. Contact

the US Geological Service or a local construction company for information on soil uses and limitations. AESTHETIC FACTORS IN SITE ANALYSIS Aesthetic Features significant trees, plant communities, streams, ponds, hills, structures Patterns and spatial aspects views, transitions, edges Aesthetic factors are those which have an emotional impact on your visitors. The goal is to utilize them in such a way that they are complementary and produce an overall effect greater than the sum of its parts. Features Significant features are those which contribute to a unique sense of place. Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects, Seattle, Washington Http://www.jonesandjones.com describe them as the bones of a place and stress their importance. They include significant or unusual trees, forests, and plant communities as well as streams, ponds, hills, and structures. Patterns and spatial aspects Just as specific objects or groups of objects can represent significant features of a site, so too can their arrangement and the relationship or result of it. An example would be the transitional area between field and forest or the plant community found along a stream. A specific part of the stream such as a waterfall or a series of pools may be significant in that it is unique or represents the highest degree of expression for that particular element within the site especially if that element is a recurring one in the surrounding area. Are there groves of aspens or hardwoods which provide a blaze of color in the Fall and link the site to surrounding mountains or forests, for instance? Does the transition from creek bottom to hillside to summit result not only in a change of vegetation, but a breathtaking vista as well? A thorough inventory and analysis of the site will reveal these bones and provide the basis for fleshing them out. MAPPING OF SIGNIFICANT FEATURES AND PLANTS Mapping the site and the plants within it provides the basis for evaluating the suitability of specific areas for plant growth and display, tracking their progress and updating accession records, and planning the construction of trails and structures. A suitable base map may be constructed in several ways and address various aspects of landscape analysis and planning. A common method is to use a series of overlays, or layers, each of which shows specific factors related to the landscape. Among others, these typically include layers for soils, hydrology, topography and vegetation and lead to the development of the site plan. Increasingly, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are being used to create interactive interfaces between databases and maps which may be queried

for general or specific information. For that information to be accurate, geodetic reference points must be included so that an analysis of features within a given area are positionally or distributionally correct (Creech and McDonald, 19 93). Three dimensional, computer generated maps and terrain models offer the planner a greater ability to interpret aspects of the site as they apply to human experience than do two dimensional topographic maps or perspective drawings. The following texts are useful to those interested in learning more about site analysis and how it applies to design and planning.

Austin, R.L. 1982. Designing With Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. New York, N.Y. Creech, David L. and Darrel Mc Donald. 1993. The Journal of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta 8:4:18-20,36 Creech, David L. and C. Martindale. 1992. 1992 Symposium Proceedings of the Native Plant Society of Texas 10-20 Diekelmann, J. and R. Schuster 1982. Natural Landscaping: Designing with Native Plant Communities. McGraw-Hill Company. New York, N.Y. Dube, Richard L. Natural Pattern Forms. 1997. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. New York, N.Y. Forman, Richard T.T and Michel Godron. Landscape Ecology. 1986. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Naveh, Zev and Arthur S Lieberman. Landscape Ecology. 1994. SpringerVerlag New York, Inc. New York, N.Y. Nixon, E.S. and J.A Raines. Woody Creekside Vegetation of Nacogdoches County, Texas. The Texas Journal of Science. 27 : 443-452 Rubenstein, Harvey M. A Guide to Site and Environmental Planning. 1987 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Rutledge, Albert J. Anatomy of a Park: The essentials of Recreation Area Planning and Design. 1971. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York, N.Y. Turner, Monica G. and Robert H. Garner. Quantitative Methods in Landscape Ecology. 1991. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. New York, N.Y.