At last we come back to our BIG adventure…. bravely attempting to document (me) and stay awake through (you) the nitty gritty of the Client Interview aspect of the Permaculture Design Process – believe me, it is far more exciting in person and when we get to planning our trip to site, you’ll be on the edge of your seat!
We’ve already gone through (a) the Permaculture Ethics and Principles; (b) the layout of the property – have an aerial diagram and some initial interpretations; (c) performed an assessment of the impact of nature on the block (the Sun’s mainly, but also wind, water, fire and others) and (d) finally we started a ramble through the client questionnaire and the reasoning behind the specific questions. And it was there on Christmas Eve, with baited breath, I left you all …. mid way through the questionnaire as preparation for Santa’s arrival could no longer be put off. And so it is only fitting that, more than 3 months later, as we bask in the cooler weather of an alternate super long weekend, we head back to pick up the proverbial design ball and run with it….
BUT FIRST A QUICK NEWS UPDATE:
1) April 10th – Transition Town Stirling is having a Movie night – the reason I mention it, is because I’ve organised for it to be “Dirt, The Movie!”. Not so much an education on what soil is, but more the opportunity to see some famous soil names/faces and to follow the journey of how we treat soil and what hope there is for the future. For info on the Movie Night head HERE, for some information on the Movie itself head HERE.
2) May – Please note that I will be a little quiet in May as I will be helping with a Permaculture Design Course (head HERE for information), but that just means I need to do lots of blogging in April to make up for it!
Permaculture 102 – Step 3B – The Client Interview Sheet Continued
A little recap…
(a) What is the aim of this step:
Having talked all about the importance of Sun in an urban design and Water in a rural design, gauging this particular force trumps all. It is perhaps the most critical element in the planning of the garden, primarily to allow us to facilitate the work performed by the gardener into being a supportive force for nature’s evolution in the space. The aim of this step is to trigger the thoughts of the client on items they might not have considered in their wants / needs and to highlight future discussion topics in order to get the most out of the site visit.
In this step we’ll continue to walk through the remaining questions and provide a little background as to the reasoning behind each query.
Its critical throughout this step to keep in mind the Permaculture Principles – both with respect to ourselves and to the client.
(b) What you need to start this step:
- The questionnaire returned by the client (or completed by yourself with your “owner’s hat on” if it is your garden we are talking about).
- The diagram from Step 1 – either on a computer, printed out, self drawn or what ever works for you to refer to as you read through the questionnaire.
- Some pencils/pens/textas (or virtual options if you are working on a computer) of different colours.
- Empathy – Your clients (and indeed us at this point – but just you wait…) will have varying degrees of understanding of what they want and need. They are often are a little embarrassed about how much (or little) they know and that their expectations must be a mile off what is possible. Psychology 101 – The more comfortable people are, the more they will talk (even off-topic discussion are sometimes helpful) and the more information you will gain into setting up a system that will compliment the owner and be capable of long term success.
(c) What you’ve got when you finish this step:
By the end we’ll have a good feel to the Client’s hopes for the location and know a little about the opportunities and challenges of the site and its (mental and physical) climate. All set to pack our kit bag, have a last minute soil resuscitation refresh and then head to site.
HOW TO GET FROM (b) TO (c):
Okay, completed questionnaire in one hand, diagram from Step 1 in front of us and pencil in the other hand. Bear in mind that when you go to site, it is recommended that you take a copy of the completed (if available and possibly with “notes to self”) plus a blank questionnaire so as to prompt discussion and fill in your own assessment of the answers from the discussions held. Let’s step through typical questionnaire…. if you want to view it in its native form as we use it, head to the TP Website – Free Notes Section – Site Design and Client Interview Checklist.
A. The Formalities
1. The Client – Already covered.
Including: 1.1 Client’s understanding of Permaculture Design; 1.2 Occupancy (Years to date / Future Plans); 1.3 Number of People on Site; 1.4 Age (s); 1.5 Occupation (s); 1.6 Eating Habits; 1.7 Likes, dislikes and allergies; 1.8 Routine Habits; 1.9 Lifestyle – Current and Desired; 1.10 Time to Spend Working Onsite – Current and Future; 1.11 Budget for Design / Site Works; 1.12 Skills (Building / Gardening / Craft); and 1.13 Disabilities.
2. The Client’s Wants and Needs
2.1 Overall Vision for the Site:
The answer to this question might be general (supply veggies for the family) or specific (pond here, chook run there); expansive (full yard, every tree itemised) or limited (small patch off the left); childhood memories (Grandma’s fresh grapes) or ideas of a better future (I want my kids to eat real foods); in line with Permaculture principles or not.
This is a great question to open in Section 2 with. We have talked all about the client (or us, as the case may be) as a person/family in Section 1 in a practical sense, but now we are inviting the weird and wonderful. We get to see their tentative plan before the thoughts get boxed into priorities, needs and practicalities.
The client gets an opportunity to think about what they want and what they wished they had. It also invites discussion between family members who might not be able to attend the meeting. You’ll remember we talked about “all the bits in a design (elements) and how their interaction with one another needs to be considered – so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (system)” The family must be considered as elements within the garden and the garden designed to ensure that both benefit from the relationship. With a little questioning, designs can be developed with features to work towards ongoing interest of all members. Having buy-in to the overall vision provides a degree of ownership and responsibility – valuing the “stakeholders” (the investors – $$$ and time; the consumers – at the table; and the employees!)
Whether they write a saga or nothing, there is a lot for us and them to learn about their ideas and that of their partner/flatmate/family – documented or discussed.
With our site map in hand and with an idea of the client’s vision, we can get an insight into our client and their concepts relative to their location and space. For example, if they have only a small courtyard and yet have visions of a pond, chook run and providing veggies for the family, either you need to do some early-intervention expectation management or some pretty snazzy designing! Or if they have small plans for a significant space, then perhaps attending some free garden tours might help open their eyes to the huge possibilities.
If you’re doing your own design, here is where you look to your memories of Grandma’s back yard, or the way your Mum’s kitchen smelt when you were a child; you think of the fruit that you get excited about as the price drops when it comes into season; that weird looking fruit you saw when on holiday in exotic climes (I bet I’m the only one that thought it was “exotic climbs”…. thinking of my years trekking Himilayas! I wish. Grammar 101 lessons required for me.); the berries you loved, but now fear buying as the only locally purchasable option is imported; the lemon delicious pudding you wow’d your guests with at the last dinner party, but the neighbour who gave you the lemons is selling their place….et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Google comes in handy if your exposure to producting gardening is limited – there are some great websites for edible plants which will step you away from the apple, orange, banana norms – not that there is anything wrong with them! Let your mind wander and see what you’d love to have – even if its silly for the space or climate, there may be other, similar options or putting it in a wicking barrel rather than in the ground. We’ll figure it’s practicalities (or lack there of) out later, for now, dare to dream.
Think outside the plant field too – ponds, amphibians, or perhaps insects are your thing
(Katidid Photo Reference – Giant Long-Legged Katydids photo by Houston Museum of Natural Science)
2.2 Prioritise Goals
Now we start to guide the client through the process of apply the “boxes” – what is most important to them? What should be integrated as a priority and what might need to be discussed early to manage expectations.
Although, of course, at the top of every priority list should be “prepare the soil” as each item in the list of goals can generally be traced back to that. Our (The Designer’s) list may not necessary be the same as the client’s (even if this is us as we look to design our own space), but it should incorporate some of the Client’s top goals early on or at least a plan to get there….. in order to put the YIELD in “Obtain the Yield”, but we’ll discuss that a little later.
Alternately if the top goal is impractical in the immediate context, then a little psychology needs to be employed to bring the client around to that understanding. In no way am I saying that we have a one size fits all list of priorities and, as designers, we talk the clients into alignment with this list. As in every service provision situation, the Client is always right….. excepts when that means setting them up for failure and bad experiences which will limit their journey. For example – and my pet hate (excuse the pun) – if Chickens or rabbits or similar are at the top of the priority list, but the client will be away for extended periods (holidays, FIFO, sick relatives elsewhere). Then consideration needs to be given to the benefits versus system self-sufficiency versus neglect of each aspect of the design. If there is not a fabulous neighbour (paid in eggs!) or a like minded friend/relative close by, then chances are this system will fail for both the chickens and the owner. This may need to be teased out in conversations and the rearrangements of priorities be facilitated during the meeting. Some introduced garden life requires far less attention than others, perhaps there is a better suiting alternative. Existing pets also need to be considered, but necessarily to the exclusion of….. as “free range” chooks may or may not mix well with a highly excited fox terrier or an overly affectionate rottweiler.
We get an idea of urgency – too often a client wants a “landscape” now that will last, which is not part of the evolution that occurs within a Permaculture Designed space. Taking the client back to a fundamental education of Permaculture may be required to adjust the expectation or to determine that Permaculture might not meet their current needs. Designs are typically delivered with stages, and an evolution of the client with the space that comes from understanding the reasoning of element placement is critical in the design.
Again, this response indicates what expectation management is required and what attention to “Permaculture Principle Number 3 – Obtain a Yield”
(As an aside, Permaculture may not be for everyone and it would be a shame turning a person off producing their own food by trying to impose certain principles. Some folks like neat rows and segregation of crops which has its own pluses and minuses, but will not fit within a natural pest control ambition and hence not normally considered under the banner of Permaculture. Similarly Organic gardening has its own ethics which causes its practice to work within a different set of constraints and management techniques. Don’t be afraid to consider declining or deferring the client to alternate educators. It may be a lose/lose situation and better to encourage them down an alternate path than have them head back to no knowledge or care of their food’s origin.)
2.4 Prioritise Concerns (Spouse, Rainfall, Soil, Short Term Residence etc..)
This is the “cheat of all cheats” when it comes to an effective design….. if you can solve one of your clients concerns, you’ll have them onside and invested in the process!
At the risk of giving away a trade secret (again), a key saying associated with “Permaculture Principle Number 1 – Observe and Interact” is “the problem is the solution“. Things are not always the way they appear, the negative aspect we see can be coupled with a compensating positive or actually be harnessed in a way to make it a positive feature for the existing system. Weeds are a prime example – many seek to eradicate them, when an alternate view can see them as nature covering bare soil (to limit temp fluctuations, to shelter micro-colonies), preparing the soil for less hardy species (by drawing nutrients to the topsoil as they perish, compost and replace themselves), a source of high nutrition in salad (and for livestock) and often the most water wise kick start to a barren landscape. Similarly a flooding issue might be rectified by reducing the hydrophobic (water run off) nature of the soil by long term amendment of the soil or controlled diversion – the water at scarcer times is better utilised by the plants, the flooding is averted and your client is (or you are) stoked!
Its likely these concerns have cropped up in questions previously, but as mentioned before, by phrasing the questions differently either the client can elect not to answer all questions, or their thoughts get stimulated and you get another angle on the problem….. perhaps getting a little closer to their perceived source of the problem. After all they are on site observing for far longer than we’ll have the opportunity to – learn from this, even though your interpretation may differ from theirs.
2.5 Specify Wants and Needs
Again we get insight into the client/family and their knowledge about both themselves and their space. This query provides further information associated with Question 2.1 – splitting the dream into wants and needs. Additionally it should be noted that sometimes, but not always, the needs are the top priority identified in Question 2.2. See how the picture starts to evolve.
However your client might NEED fresh garden greens all year round, but as a top priority to achieve this you must ensure that your soil can retain moisture and nutrients otherwise in summer you’ll find yourself in trouble. To have fresh greens all year round, there may need to be an adaption of palate and an openness to trying new plants for producing iceberg lettuce all year round is a hugely labour intensive effort. (Perhaps the next fad diet – eat only what you grow….. you’ll soon discover the work to nutrition ratio of each item of food! Some don’t supply you with the energy to reach the back door carrying them! You heard it first here – The Soil Hugger’s Diet.)
On the other hand a pond might be documented as a WANT, but when you’re struggling to get pollinators into your garden to produce your fruit (or pests munch your greens before the leaves even open) as you live in “triplex-ville”, you’ll discover the necessity of water sources where there is a balance between a drink for predators/pollinators; below surface predators to minimise mosquito population growth (infact attracting the mozzies to lay here can reduce your total mozzie population!); and plants to feed those below surface predators. Depending on your location you may NEED a pond.
2.6 Desired Level of Food Self Reliance
This is a thought provoking question and is very dependent on the area, the client’s (and client’s family’s) interaction with the garden, and the client’s (and client’s family’s) diet. Are we aiming for a self sustaining productive garden aimed at long term self sufficiency with sporadic grazing or are we looking for a high yield all year around?
When cross referencing this query with the Eating Habits is section 1, we get a good feel for the types and quantities of products that the client expects at this stage. And when looking at short and long range priorities we can identify what some areas of the garden will need to achieve.
If high level of self reliance is required and we need all year round production, then PFAF (http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx)- is a handy website to learn about seasonal (you’ll need to adjust to Perth!) plants and their uses, growing conditions and interesting quirks….. You’ll see it has been one of my inputs for investigations. As always with internet information, do your research before acting on any single source of information (me included!).
3. Site Overview – we’ll be a little brief as some aspects we have covered already or it is just as a Client thought-trigger.
3.1 Property Size
Good for confirming the scale we have from Intramaps and the clients understanding of the space they are working with. In this query the focus is on the whole block, which sometimes starts the client considering the front of the house and down the sides as well as the obvious just outside the back door plots.
3.2 Property Tenure (zoning, easements, local council)
Provides information relating to the extent of changes possible. E.g. an above ground bed might or might not be preferred over an in-ground bed over a semi-mobile wicking pot. Permanence versus trip hazard versus impacting others; a large nut tree planted above a “required access” section of sewage piping. Also any legal individual property requirements and rules of animal use, and land use.
3.3 Other Plans
There may be plans to install a shed or pergola or similar sometime in the future – discussion of where these might fit and options for their installation (e.g. living pergolas rather than tin might be cooler in summer, with plant selection being important for summer shade and winter light/warmth). Also any other council plans, rezoning, neighbors triplex plans to plan privacy screens etc.
3.4 On Site Resources (wind, water, light, carbon, buildings, shade)
Are there already systems installed – external tap locations, rain water tanks, wind breaks, compost piles, wood piles, waste building material, significant trees. Rocks, sand and clay are all resources that might decide one building technique above another.
Some will be obvious from the map we have, some will be hidden, but suggesting the client think about what they already have to offer is an important introduction to Observation within their yard.
Items like taps or rain water tanks can influence where high water use or specific hand watering requirements may be located to minimise the frustrations of maintenance activities.
3.5 House and Building Footprint
This should be obvious from the map we have, but it is important to understand the size taken up by the house itself; its position and orientation on the block; and the area adjacent to it (eg eves, paved areas) which limits the functional productive space
3.6 Vehicle Needs
Where do they park, do they store a trailer, what are the walk ways between the car and house – heading back to understanding habits. Or where do we need to put hardy plants that can cope with a little vehicular trimming….
3.7 List of Plans, Maps, Drawings
If the resident has additional plans, maps etc – as our map might be out of date and our design require some work around new structures, underground utilities or take into account the removal of some constructions. Where is the kitchen window and exit door to place the kitchen garden, how doe the internal pathways in the house come out into the yard. They may have reticulation, shed wiring, and other plans they will help you produce a site layout design or just avoid trouble. Plans and drawings take a lot of time to produce, take the time to find all the existing ones, hardcopy’s and digital that you can.
3.8 Historical Land Use (Soil Contamination test?)
Just a general discussion if any consideration has been given to the location in the past? Some have had soil tested and not understood the results so they end up in the back of a draw, some have just moved in so have no history, some have rented out the property but known the gardening service and others have lived in the house, but left the yard to “evolve naturally” for the last 10 years whilst life was spent in the house just surviving the busy times.
All answers give us an idea about both the yard and the people. If the soil has been tested, it shows an interest and expense put to caring about the soil. Make this expense worth while by interpreting the results and weaving the findings into the design and everyone has won.
If they’ve just moved in, then it is important to emphasis that you don’t need a blank canvas to start with – FIRST BIG TIP OF THE DAY## DON’T REMOVE ANY PLANTS BEFORE ASKING FOR A DESIGN. Too often we are called in to a barren landscape with the comment that we’ve cleared out all the useless stuff so we can make a Permaculture Space….. I shed a tear for the million (no exaggeration!) microclimates and their occupants now swept away, the nutrients which were once in the soil and part of the cycle now heading off as green waste, the soil life now exposed to the sun’s might, the larger life habitats which helped with pollination, importation of nutrients from elsewhere…. need I go on. No tree is useless if it casts a shadow, no weed is useless if it has a leaf to capture energy…. they are all part of natures way of returning the system to a forest from whatever starting point. See the opportunities and if you are yet to know how to, then take time to sit and observe, they’ll show you.
Over the course of this design process we’ll see that we can use that “useless” tree as shelter for vulnerable new plants, we’ll discover what that “weed” is achieving in the soil, we’ll spot the bee attractors… as you can tell, there is so much to see if we only know or take the time to look. Say NO to deforestation in every sized space! Wow, put the placard away, SH, back to topic….
If they’ve left it to “evolve naturally” due to lack of time, what has changed? Do they have more time now for a specific reason or will times get busy again soon? Whilst you cannot predict life’s twists and turns, if nothing significant has changed, then you need to consider the time available for the guider of your garden and start, perhaps, even smaller than you normally might, or make that early yield a little more visual.
Having said that, if the client is indeed yourself, how are things changing for you? Are you going have time to set up the system? Are you going to have time to look after it in its infancy? Or should you do an overall plan and then attack each area bit by bit so the higher time consuming areas are spaced out over time. Easy, quick activities can be put in place to prepare the other areas so that when you get around to
3.9 Known Land Issues (Erosion, Flooding, etc)
As mentioned previously, if there are particular problems that can be simply fixed at the outset, there is a much greater chance of achieving a positive attitude in your client and enabling your system to utilise sun, rain, wind etc in a positive manner. These are the free energy sources in a world of expensive amendments.
3.10 Privacy Current / Desired
Gardens can be designed as welcoming, guiding or subtly excluding visitors. Rather than the 7 foot front wall, which makes a space hemmed in. Hedging (dense or sparce) or tall grass systems (bamboo, bana grass or sugar cane) can help with visual privacy and the bana grass in particular is great for baffling noise and replacing it with a (mostly) gentle rustle.
3.11 Neighbour and Adjoining Land Limitations
This may be associated with legal limitation (e.g. planting in jointly owned or council land), the clients relationships with neighbours or habits of those who frequently visit or pass by your property.
Council verges must be carefully assessed with respect to your local regulations. For example the line of sight of you, your neighbours and other road users must not be comprimised, so working in line with existing street trees for larger plants and only using low vegetation any further forward is essential.
Alternately a neighbour (down wind) may have horrid hay fever and therefore there may be limitations on what you want to afflict them with. Or your neighbour might make the best apple and rhubarb pie….. what will we plant…..hmmmmmmm. Seriously though, whilst good fences make good neighbours, agreed common ground gardens make good conversations. As long as all parties are happy, then sometimes the limitations are less constricting than first imagined. However investment in these common grounds should be limited such that if the land is required (and it was not yours to use as you saw fit), it should be easily and cheaply returned to its original state.
4. Site Specifics – THIS IS WHERE WE STEP IN WITH ANSWERS
BUT should the client review the questions, they get an overview of the many influences on the site which we consider and may also trigger thoughts to help with more information in the above questions. I will run through them briefly as we have already discussed many in our Assessment of the block previously.
Having said that, the last four are useful, but not essential to know prior to arrival at the site.
4.3 Slope Orientation and Solar Access (land to sun angle)
Back to the privacy question really, you may be looking to block the view of a two story eye-sore just beyond the back fence or avoid occlusion of ocean or valley views. Consideration of these requirements are essential when planning significant fruit trees, nut trees or deciduous plantings which will seasonally impact the success of keeping the client happy with their outlook.
4.5 Contours and Slope (steepness)
We’ll come back to this later, but a micro-climate can be described as a location where the impact of the major environmental factors (sun, rain, wind, fire etc) is influenced by what is present in that location.
It can be as simple as a log lying on the ground – the bark on top is exposed to the sun and wind, some creatures like this location; underneath is typically moist for longer and cooler, some creatures like this location; some creatures like to bore into the wood to make nests; spiders might span the gap between sections of the log and ground to catch creatures on the through breeze….. Then as you look further and further from the log you’ll see the influence diminish as the duration of shade provided through the day reduces and wind buffering drops, but still these are different conditions seen as perfect for different life. Going deeper within the soil under the log, you’ll see (if you could), the moisture and decomposition influence changing.
(Picture Reference: http://poeticfool.com/2015/02/27/a-desert-mind-micropoetry-by-richard-stephen/)
All these locations associated with the one log can be considered individual micro-climates as their exposure to sun, rain, wind etc will differ and invite creatures of different preference to make a home. Compare this to just an expanse of sand and you only have the depth profile changing and hence an array of micro-climates changing only as you go deeper – but note that even this is not necessarily devoid of micro-climates and life. Compare this again to a forest, and just ponder about the explosion of influences and dynamic climates through out the season……
Whilst not simple, putting a little thought into considering micro-climates, who they attract, what might grow well, what structures are in place already and so on, it’s amazing how this helps with observation and understanding our impact.
An application example might be trying to grow tropical trees in Perth – to get humidity without significant water use or electricity, you need to build up a system which puts water into the air in an enclosed space….. a close planted group of trees, transpiring from their leaves can be very effective…. you construct a living micro-climate such that if you go on holiday and the retic fails, the living micro-climate (depending on the time of year!) has a much better chance of surviving than a humidity controlled greenhouse whose controller fails.
4.7 Water Sources and Storage – Guru Guest Comments –
Bore water, scheme water (mains), rainwater, greywater or tankered-in ….there are many sources of water. As part of an effective water audit study for the site we need to know the sources, their quality, what we are using them for (drinking vs irrigation), the cost, how much and where we are going to store them. This is more applicable for rural settings when it comes to sources – rain into dams etc, but there may be rain water tanks or grey water systems installed which already have retic set up or are in locations where planning of gardens around that location will make it simpler for watering purposes. This may be practical or not, but knowing where they are before you arrive gives you a mind’s eye picture as well as an understanding the Client’s recognition of water being an important resource.
Typically in an urban yard all that’s considered is the mains tapwater, but the most effective water supply system will be a combination of several sources at different times of year. If this is interesting you have a read of the Guru’s latest Water Workshop notes and we’ll revisit the topic in a whole blog of its own.
4.8 Water Quality and Seasonality
4.10 Bore Quality, Water Table – Guru Guest Comments –
Bores are an excellent source of irrigation water. Using desalinated, chlorinated, fluoridated water to pour on the living soil is crazy when you think about it. We can all have a bore and even though the depth and quality varies (so you might want to test it), a bore is a great resource. The Perth Ground water atlas , Dept of Water, and Water Corporation offer lots of advise on Bores.
Bores seem to be frowned upon at the moment but I think as always people are missing the point. Yes there is domestic and commercial over abstraction BUT I have no gutters and impound all the rainwater that hits our block into the deep sand aquifer that feeds my bore no water flow leaves my block (only sewer waste). With a roof of 250m2 and a rainfall of 800mm I am putting 200kL from my roof into the soil not including the rest of the block (450m2x800). If we all did this the ‘underground rainwater tanks’ (our subsoil shallow aquifers) would all be full and fresh.
4.11 Frost and Heatwave Timings (max / min Temps)
4.12 Days of Drought
4.13 Sunny and Cloudy Days
4.14 Water Catchments and Size – Guru Guest Comments –
Your whole block is a water catchment, but generally we are looking at hard surfaces that run off water that we can collect. Roof size and run-off coefficient (of roof material) will be needed as well as yearly and monthly rainfall data to size and plan rainwater tanks. On a farm or peri-urban block your catchment might be a hillside that is channeling water into your dams.
SH: Again, we’ll revisit the water topic in a whole blog of its own – as I’m keen to get the full picture.
4.15 Wind (direction, speed, temp)
4.16 Erosion and Land Damage
Discussed above in examination of Clients concerns, but some will also be visually obvious during the site visit.
4.17 Land Use Patterns and Zones
We’ll talk about this more as we move into the design, but it may be obvious that they are already walking a certain way to the car, to the mail box, to the bin, to an existing compost, which can be used as a frequently accessed location for those aspects of the design that might need daily attention. Zones we’ll talk through as we hit the design, but these are just splitting the design landscape into areas that fulfill a certain function. They may be defined based on closeness to the house – e.g. frequent use herbs are closest to the house exit nearest the kitchen as we want them as easy picking while the meal is being prepared OR the chickens are a little further from the house as there may be the potential for flies. – or slope / existing terracing or the clients capabilities/access. Let’s come back to this.
4.18 Soil Types
Done in very great detail.
4.19 Mineral and Soil Life Tests
Done in very great detail.
4.20 Drainage/Adsorption Rates
General comments here may be helpful as there are different sands in different locations and this may be the first aspect we address. You can do a simple water infiltration test and will need this information if designing septic systems and leach drains.
4.21 Existing Vegetation (Natives, Exotics, Concerns, Tree Crops)
Please let there be existing vegetation! All good information and insight into the client.
4.22 Gardens (Fruit Trees and Veggies)
4.24 Other Crops
4.25 Habitation (Fauna, Native, Exotic, Pests, Predators)
As above, but also information here helps you understand the client – both from a “cup half full” perspective and an observational ability. Some see the lovely visitors, some mis-identify pests/predators, some just like to sit and let it all wash over them. There is a lot to gain in this query (if the client survives the interview sheet to here) as it sets a bit of a baseline on fauna education requirements. As you know from my past writing – and my SECOND BIG TIP OF THE DAY## IF IN DOUBT (AND PREFERABLY EVEN IF NOT IN DOUBT) DON’T KILL IT BEFORE YOU UNDERSTAND ITS ROLE IN YOUR GARDEN. Do some research, make an informed choice and aim to control life with life, not with death. Chance are if there is one, there are many and our good lady nature is waving her magic wand and giving you an opportunity to learn.
And we have survived the (sometimes dry) Client Interview Sheet. Next stop….. pack our bags and set off to site (plus a step back in time to the early naughties – 2003 to be exact – Dr Who would be impressed) as we explore the barren landscape of our design “canvas”.
Thanks again for joining me on this learning journey. I hope you and your loved ones have had a smile-filled extended weekend and (now I have to confess yet another imperfection in the Soil Hugger!) a ripper kick-off to the footy season – just when I had started to worry about how to procrastinate with the ICC over!
We’ll try to stick with the design theme for the next few blogs to keep the ball rolling and get our design pencils warmed up, but I am also conscious of the delights awaiting in our plant section….
Exhibit E: The Lion’s Tail or Lion’s Ear or Klip Dagga
Exhibit F: The New Guinea Bean
Exhibit G: Wild Passionfruit
Exhibit H: African Cucumber
Plus I have been experimenting with Ice-Cream Beans, which might throw another topic into the mix – Why is everyone talking about them and why am I seeing them in so many designs….. AND I’ve been noticing changes as the season changes, so there will be a short series just on the fun observations to be had.
We shall see how disciplined I can be to stick to topic….hmmmmm.
Until then, Enjoy.