They literally lay the groundwork: Landscape contractors need to prepare the landscape site before any project gets underway, whether they’re preparing the foundation for an amazing outdoor entertainment space in Newport, CA, or setting up a property for an upgraded landscape design. Once the landscape construction process gets underway, the project takes off, and the vision of the landscape architects involved begins to take shape.
The Landscape Plan
The landscape construction starts with a plan, typically laid out by a landscape architect or designer. The plan shows various design features of the site and acts as a map to indicate the location of patios, driveways, focal points, and other features that will be built.
Important structures like the drainage system, water, electricity, and phone lines require marking the location of each buried line. For the building team with an architect on board, it is important to know how to read and interpret the measurements from the plan to the real-life landscape. If the landscape is new, it may require sculpting of the terrain and handling any slopes accurately with proper surveying equipment.
Grading involves the moving of the soil and shaping of the land by removing or adding soil. First, contractors use equipment to create the rough grade, slope, or terrain, which is usually 4 to 6 inches below the final grade. The main objective of a rough grade is to establish drainage patterns. Some soils don’t require major moving, while others need weed-removing methods to reduce weed problems after the landscape construction is complete. After spreading the topsoil over the rough grade, the final grade is established with a smooth soil that’s ready for planting and building landscape features.
A common concern for landscape contractors during site preparation is soil compaction. The use of heavy equipment, like bulldozers, might cause damage to the soil, an issue also known as soil compaction. This problem will seriously affect plant growth and could cause mature, existing trees to die. Soil compaction can be avoided by keeping the equipment away from trees and their root area.
Dealing with Existing Features
Some features already present on the site might need to be removed. Regardless if it is a hardscaping material—which could take more time to eliminate—or an old, large tree, the landscaping contractor needs to take proper measures to accomplish safe removal of elements that stand in the way of the new landscape project.
Evaluating Soil Conditions
It is vital for the landscape contractor to make a proper evaluation of the soil type and quality. Since there are many ways to improve soil quality, the first step is the analysis that will establish whether or not the soil is of poor quality. A soil of poor quality cannot ensure good plant growth, so it needs soil amendments to improve drainage, aeration, and moisture. The list of soil amendments includes compost, sand, humus, and fertilizers, which may need to be applied before planting grass and other plants.
Locating Elements of the Landscape
Once the landscape contractor has incorporated all of these methods, the final step of landscape site preparation is transferring the measurements of the plan to the landscape. This meticulous work may involve plotting exact locations of where hardscape and softscape features will go on the site by using stakes to guide the final installation.