Get to know your site

Describe your site

Photo: Woodsy park with blue flowers

Describing for design

Landscape architects and horticulturists increasingly have recognized that the issue of salinity must be considered carefully when designing public parks and other large cityscapes. Outlined below is a specific, yet flexible scheme for assessing the salinity-related characteristics of a landscape site. It has been used successfully for the planning and design of urban landscapes.

The suggested scheme involves three broad steps, or phases: the initial site assessment, the detailed site investigation, and, later in the process, the outlining of design criteria.

Phase I: Initial assessment

Walk around the landscape's site and note geographical or other characteristics that could foster the accumulation of salts on or within the soil. Also, look for evidence of such accumulation. Once back at the office, begin collecting any pertinent information about what you've discovered.

Photo: Close-up of tree in woodsy park

Phase II: Detailed investigation

Visit the site again, this time to collect more specific information about any characteristics of note. As needed, conduct field tests to assess the movement of water in the soil and any characteristics of the soil that affect such movement. Based on the results from these tests, decide whether to also collect samples of irrigation water, soil, and plants and submit them for laboratory analysis.

Phase III: Development of design criteria

Integrate the information obtained and use it to develop a set of criteria for the landscape's design. Also, where appropriate, develop a set of management practices for mitigating or accommodating salinity-related aspects of the landscape.

The table Assessing Salinity During Design of a Landscape lists some activities that might prove useful during each phase. Many of these activities are described in detail in the pages that follow. Use the table to guide you to other portions of this module that meet your needs.

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