We ran long on Monday night and didn’t get to spend a lot of time on the Site Analysis homework. Site analysis has two components. The first component is to describe your site without reference to political boundaries.
My example was: I live in Southern Oak Woodlands on the alluvial fan of the south face of the San Gabriel Mountains between the Los Angeles River Watershed and the San Gabriel River Watershed (about 2 blocks from the boundary of both). How far are you from mountains? Which mountains? The coast? The river? Which river? Google Earth, or even Google maps, can give perspective on this.
How to find your watershed: pick “what grows here” from Calflora.org: http://www.calflora.org/app/wgh?page=entry Choose watershed. Working with this tool is not intuitive, and takes a little back and forth, but you can find the name of your watershed with it.
To find your plant community, go to the laspilitas.com website: http://www.laspilitas.com/comhabit/california_communities.html
The second component should be figured out on the site. Find a longtime resident or a gardener in your neighborhood if you need help. A friend in construction can help with slope.
Aspect (which direction the property or the slope faces)
Additional reflectance from walls or paving
Slope in degrees or in ratio. A 45 degree slope is a 1:1 ratio. A 90 degree slope is a cliff. This can be worked out with a plumb bob and a protractor. A plumb bob is a string with a weight on it. One way is to set a string level for 100 inches, then measure down from the level. How many inches down does the slope fall in 100 inches? Do not worry about precision, but try to get a good idea.
Soil Type (as best you can before soils)
Drainage (how fast does a 1’ x 1’ hole drain 1 gallon of water?
Boundaries (fences, hedges, block, sidewalk)
Movement of Wildlife through the site
Example: This property has high filtered shade in the front, which is about 20x30 with a small area less than 5x5 of full sun. The front faces north, but slopes to the back southeast corner at about one foot in 10 feet. The entire east side of the property is vegetated, and the front is hedged at the sidewalk. Wildlife moves through this hedge, and through a fence at the back. The back has a sunny area of 9x12 with additional reflectance from the driveway and the south side of the house. The soil is D. G. with nearly perfect drainage, as a 1 gallon hole drains in less than 3 minutes. The back also has a shady area under an existing persimmon of an additional 9x20. Fences and structures enclose the back. This is deciduous shade. The only moist area is under the hose bib in front. There are hose bibs front and back.
I won’t provide the prevailing winds, as they are the same for everyone on the south side of the mountains.