Mapping Your Garden

What you’ll need

  • Pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Clipboard
  • Ruler
  • 100-foot tape rule
  • Large screwdriver

step 1: Gather Equipment

To measure, you’ll need a long tape rule. Invest in a landscaper’s 100-foot tape rule. Landscaper’s rulers have a loop at the end; you can poke a screwdriver through this loop to hold the end in place. You’ll also need graph paper—10 squares to the inch is a good size. Look for a grid that has heavier lines every 10 lines (every inch). The heavier lines makes it easier to count. And you’ll need a pencil, a ruler to draw straight lines, and a clipboard.

step 2: Establish Base Lines

Select a long straight line as a base line for your map. If you are mapping your back yard, it might be the back of the house.

Select another base line perpendicular to the first one, such as a fence or driveway. If you don’t have a perpendicular base line, make a temporary one with a long length of string and two stakes.

Measure both the base lines and draw them on your map, near the edges of the paper. Use one square on the graph paper to represent one foot on the ground.

step 3: Locate points on the Map

Locate items in your garden by measuring their distance from the two base lines. For example, measure the distance to a tree from the back of the house and then from the fence. These two measures will locate the tree accurately on your map.

To make measuring simpler, peg down the end of the tape rule at one base line and extend it the whole length of the yard. Walk along it and make little tick marks on the graph paper wherever it crosses a point you want to map. Next to each tick mark put a note reminding you what the point is. Then do the same thing from the other base line, at right angles to the first. The items are located on the map where the tick marks cross.

step 4: Draw your Map

Once you have enough points located, draw the items on the map where the tick marks cross. For a more refined map, use the map you made in the yard as field notes, and trace a cleaner version on tracing paper with ink. Then copy the finished map onto stronger paper with a copier. Make many copies, and you can use them to sketch dreams or plans, discarding those that don’t work out.