|Base Map in progress: Mother Nature's Montrose Garden|
The first step in planning any garden is to develop a good map. A base map or base plan shows the layout of the property and accurately locates the permanent site elements on a residential lot. In urban areas and developments, lots have typically been surveyed. You may already have a copy of your deed map or property survey (or can obtain one from your local municipality).
|Property Survey: Mother Nature's Montrose Garden|
If a property survey has been done, it should show all property edges, setbacks and right of ways, building and pavement locations, and other permanent site elements. If no property survey exists, you may want to have a survey conducted by a reputable surveyor. This will help you correctly locate permanent structures on your property as well as adjacent property lines, fences, pavement, etc. Having a recent survey map will save you time and effort constructing your base map.
Previous owner's hand-drawn map (not to scale)
Mother Nature's Montrose Garden
If you don’t have a survey map, you’ll need to take the measurements yourself. A quick way to get the layout and measurements is to access Google Earth. Simply type in the address in your browser to access. Click on ‘satellite view’ to get an overview of your property. You can measure distances by right-clicking and choosing ‘measure distances’. You can also measure distances by hand with a tape measure. If you use distances from a satellite image, you should verify key distances with a tape measure; satellite images can sometimes be off by several feet.
|Satellite view: Mother Nature's Montrose Garden|
Constructing Base Map 1:
To construct a Base Map, start by redrawing the property survey to scale at a larger size. For properties under an acre in size, a scale of 1"=10' is an appropriate scale. For smaller urban properties your scale may be even larger. You want a scale that is large enough to show details, but small enough to be photocopied. If you have a large garden, you may want to map it in sections. This allows you to create your design in greater detail. We chose to divide our garden area into quarters, and map each quarter separately.
|Key features drawn on NW section map|
You may find it easiest to use simple ruled (quadrille) paper to help you draw your base map. If you want to draw it freehand, we suggest using an architectural ruler or an engineer's scale (these supplies are available at most drafting, art or business supply stores). We recommend drawing your plan first in pencil; then ink in the lines for the final base map.
We used plain ruled paper with 5 lines per inch. Since Mother Nature’s Montrose Garden is an acre in size, we chose a scale of 2.5 inches equals 30 ft. Thus, each square on the map represents a 2.5 ft. square on the ground.
Mapping each quadrant separately allowed us to map an area 95 x 120 ft. on an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper. This size is convenient to work with, allows adequate detail for planning and can be easily photo-copied or scanned. Below is an example of the SE quadrant of Mother Nature’s Montrose Garden.
The base map should show the following information:
· all property lines.
· bodies of water (streams, lakes, ponds, low areas with seasonal flooding)
· buildings, including basic floor plan with doors and windows noted
· outside water spigots
· outside electrical outlets
· decks and overhangs
· air conditioner units
· all walls, fences, utility boxes and poles, fire hydrants, etc.
· roads, drives, parking areas, walks and paths, patios, swimming pools
· on and off-site utilities including electric, telephone, gas, water, sewer, septic tanks and field drains.
· off-site elements including adjoining roads and drives, bodies of water, and structures that may influence your design.
· compass directions showing north, east, south and west (or just north).
· the scale size of the base plan.
Many people like to design their garden using copies of their hand-drawn Base Map. We prefer to do most of our work on the computer, using either a photo editing program (like Adobe Photoshop) or PowerPoint. We first scan our basic Base Map into Photoshop, using a home office scanner. We then add details such as utilities, spigots, etc. We also like to fill in areas of hardscape, such as house, walkways, etc., making them easier to visualize.
If you’ve mapped your garden in sections, the scanned images can be used as is, particularly when larger scale is needed for planning. The images can also be digitally ‘pasted’ together for a map of the entire garden (see below).
Base Map 1: Mother Nature's Montrose Garden
Some features still need to be added
The ease with which one can add or change features is another reason we like working digitally. For example, we realized that we don’t know the exact dimensions and placement of the septic tank and leach field (alas, the prior owner left us no plans). We’ll add these to the Base Map 1 once we’ve seen if the local licensing agency has approved plans. We also need to verify the location of underground utility lines, since the map the previous owner drew was not to scale.
We strongly suggest you read the helpful article ‘Drawing a Landscape Plan: The Base Map’ before drawing your base map. It’s available at: https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1032-3 .
Once your Base Map 1 is completed, make 3 or more photocopies of it. Store the original in a safe place.
We suggest that you construct two base maps: one that just includes the physical features (Base Map 1) and a second that also includes any existing plants you will retain in your new landscape (Base Map 2). We’ll discuss creating Base Map 2 in our next post (August, 2019).
We welcome your comments (below). You can also send your questions to: email@example.com