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HomeQ&AThe Art Of Garden Design - Surveying and Measuring

The Art Of Garden Design – Surveying and Measuring

This article will focus on the next step following on from the creation of your garden design wish list. The practice of surveying and measuring your plot is perhaps the most important aspect of the overall design. It is critical that your survey is accurate in order to prepare your design plan for the creation of your new garden.

It is much better and of course less expensive to make any mistakes on paper first as opposed to the actual point of construction. The initial survey begins with an outline sketch of your existing garden plot as it is and from here you will work up your various ideas developed from the creation of your wish list.

If your garden is large I would suggest that you divide it into sections that can be pieced together at a later stage. For smaller plots the entire area can be drawn onto a single sheet of paper. At first it is best to work with smaller sheets of paper, A4 for example as your design can be scaled to larger paper formats once your sketch design has defined your goals. Remember to leave space around the edge for measurements.

Be sure to write down the measurements for all the main features such as trees, paths, tool sheds and paved areas. Avoid including anything that you have already decided will not be retained in the final layout. Small rectangular shaped gardens are easy to measure. In some instances the boundary measurements can be calculated by simply counting fence panels and multiplying up the length of an individual panel and post. Most other features can be fixed by measuring at right angles from the boundary.

If the shape of your garden is more complicated it is usually possible to determine a position by running a string line at right angles from a known straight edge, then measuring at right angles from this line. Using straight lines and right angles will ensure accurate measurements.

The tools you will need for measurement of your garden plot include a tape measure (30m), preferably plasticized fabric, as this is easy to work with but doesn’t stretch. A steel rule (1.8m) is desirable for shorter measurements. Pegs to mark out positions, and to hold one end of your tape in position. Pencils, sharpeners and erasers are necessary along with a clipboard and paper (ideally graph paper).

The entire site must be measured to provide an accurate and detailed record of the dimensions of the garden. Garden designers work in a similar fashion to architects, drawing up plans to scale and as precisely as possible. In tackling this procedure your end result should reflect an accurate representation of your plot. The survey will include a detailed inventory of any existing items noting specifically the items that will be retained and incorporated into the new design.

With the information gathered during the survey and measurement stage you are now ready to move on to the next stage in the design process and begin to draw up an outline design of your new garden. The details and accurate measurements compiled in your site survey will provide you with all the information required to begin putting your ideas to paper. My next article will focus on the process of drawing your new garden design.

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