Plan Your Garden: A Scale Drawing – You have measured the garden, have looked closely at its physical characteristics, and have noted things that will affect the final plan. You are now ready to transfer all this information on to a scale drawing.
Only if you base your garden design on a plan drawn accurately to scale can you be sure that everything will fit in the way you intend. It will also allow you to make an estimate of the quantities of materials and numbers of plants you will require.
Use an A3 sheet of graph paper for your garden plan, choosing an appropriate scale for the size of your garden. Most gardens, up to a size of about 30 x 18 m (100 x 60 ft) will fit. Larger gardens will fit better on a sheet of A2 or even A1 paper. The larger the scale, the easier it is to prepare and ‘read’. The measured base lines on your survey will help you to work out which scale to use. Front and back gardens should be drawn up separately.
First tape the sheet of graph paper down on to a flat surface at the corners, then place a sheet of tracing paper squarely over the top of it and stick it down in the same way. Working in pencil and starting approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) in from the left-hand side and 2.5 cm (1 in) from the bottom.
When you carried out the survey of the garden you took running measurements along the base lines, across and up the garden. Now transfer these measurements to the tracing paper, link them up, and you will see the shape of the house and the position of the boundaries beginning to emerge. Mark in any outside buildings, manholes, gates, drains, paths and paved areas as well.
Features on the survey, such as trees or awkward corners, that you measured by triangulation can be transferred to your scale drawing with the help of a pair of compasses. Offset measurements can be transferred by drawing a straight line from the start to the finish of the curve concerned, and marking it off at 1 m (3 ft) intervals as you did on the survey. Transfer the measurements you took out in the garden to the scale drawing.
If your garden slopes you will have noted the levels on your survey. You now need to relate these changes in level to a known fixed point close to the house. Manholes are often used for what surveyors call a ‘datum’ point or ‘zero’, and from this point slopes up will be given as a plus measurement, and slopes down as a minus one. If you used the plank, tape and spirit level method in your survey, you can easily plot the measurements of the vertical drops, along with any contour lines.
Once the boundaries, levels and other measurements have been plotted on your scale drawing, you can mark the additional information that you noted. When the scale drawing is finished, file the original tracing away. You can use this to make copies of your plan when devising possible designs. Never work directly on the original.
You will have begun to formulate some pretty clear ideas of what you want, but you will also have understood the importance of doing the groundwork first. Go back to your prepared list of items to include in your garden plan, and put them in order of preference. Number one might be a terrace, two a lawn, three a pergola, four a barbecue, five a water feature, and so on.
Then start to rough in the main features on one of the copy drawings. Mark in where the terrace might go – noticing where your garden plan indicates shade – the position of the lawn, a barbecue with built-in seating near the kitchen, a play area for the children, a vegetable garden. Group utility items together where possible: a garden shed, greenhouse, compost and incinerator or bonfire area, remembering to allow room for access and machinery.
Now you can go on to produce thumbnail sketches to map out various alternative designs for your garden, incorporating what you have and what you want in different ways. Make the shapes proportionate to each other by organizing them following multiples of your graph paper squares. The thumbnail sketches on this page will give you an idea of the possible variations that can be achieved using the same basic blueprint.