Jeanette using a level to measure the bank slope

June: site analysis part two

Planning your project

Size matters

Getting accurate dimensions of your site is important for determining plant numbers, budget, time required to plant and whether you need to enlist helpers.

  • Step one: measure the area. This can be done using a measuring wheel around the perimeter to work out the area, or by using a GIS viewer like this one on the Auckland Council website.
  • Step two: use your area calculation to figure out plant numbers. As a guideline most primary coloniser plants are spaced at one metre intervals. This helps you figure out a budget: more plants = more $$$ required.
  • Step three: set a time frame to get the plants in the ground. The smaller the time frame the more help you'll need to get them planted quickly. I know it may seem obvious but the larger the site, the more people you will need. This can also affect your budget – depending on whether you need to hire help or if you’re lucky enough to get volunteer help.

Do I have a slip 'n' slide

One thing to be mindful of is working on a slippery slope and the safety issues this may involve. This is part of the site topography. If it's a rainy day and you’re working on a slope, think about the possibility of a mudslide – or a people slide. Be sure to warn your planting crew and wear shoes with good tread or consider waiting until your site has dried out.

Sloping sites can also mean different planting zones, especially when riparian planting. See Auckland Council’s riparian facts streamside planting guide. Some plants can handle wet feet and growing right on the stream edge, whilst others will curl up their toes unless they are higher up the slope in a drier zone. Slopes affect the safety of both the planting team and the plants.

What to be wary of

Now I don't want to be a negative Nancy, but there are other factors that threaten the success of your planting. Some of the biggies include weeds, domestic animals, pest and disease – and in my case members of the public. My site is a public space where people can wander around as they wish – this is a great freedom but it can also be a bit of an issue. Particularly when people move fences – designed to protect plants – to walk amongst the plants, often tramping little saplings. This generally comes from a lack of understand or knowledge about why the plants need. Sometimes people just want to allow their dogs to swim in the stream, which unfortunately results in broken plants and stream-bank erosion. This same issue applies to sites near stock and other domestic animals.

Pests big and small are a threat too – from plucky pukeko who pull out new plants to little larvae that bore through the wood of older trees. Disease can also wreak havoc on a plants immune system, and have the potential to be fatal to plants.

However, the biggest threat is all too common to every revegetation site and home garden alike: the dreaded weed. This is a topic I'd like to go into a bit more depth on in my next blog entry.

For now I shall leave you with this template for site analysis.  Have a go at filling it out and get to know your site a little better.

Revegetation site before weeds were removed
Revegetation site before weeds were removed
Site marker for planting
Site marker for planting
Just removed a massive tree privet
Just removed a massive tree privet