PLANNING AND PREPARING
MEASURING YOUR EXISTING SITE
ransforming a bare or bedraggled yard intoa private paradise is more than a willy-nillyprocedure. It's a step-by-step operation that involves measuring and drawing a map of yoursite, sketching the new landscape possibilities,choosing a final plan, and, lastly, staging thework according to personal priorities, logicalwork order, and budget.
• Taking measurements
A map of your lot may already exist. Check withthe builder or architect, with the local FHA,VA, or mortgage office, or with your deed.Your town or county building department mayhave a property survey on file, too. Check anyplan for accuracy, especially if it is old. If youfind plans, ask also for any topographical datathat may show grade changes and drainage.If no plans exist, don't worry. Just follow thedirections below, and in less than an hour youcan do the measuring. Or hire a surveyor (especially if property lines are in question). Mostpeople, however, can do their yards themselves.Take a notebook, the largest measuring tapeyou have, and a pen or pencil, and head for theoutdoors. Someone to hold your tape and double-check your measurements will help immensely, but you can do it alone. Just use an icepick, a skewer, or a large rock to hold your tape.If your yard is large, pace off the measurements. To be most accurate, measure a strip 50or 100 feet long. Walk this and count yoursteps. Then convert paces into feet (for example, 50 feet at 20 steps equals
feet per step).First, make a rough sketch of your house andproperty. Next, accurately measure propertylines, then locate the house by measuring fromeach corner perpendicular to the two nearestproperty lines. Finally, measure and mark allother structures and all trees and plantings youplan to keep. Put the figures on your roughsketch as you go.Now or later you will want to mark the eaves,first-floor doors and windows, downspouts, meter locations, relevant utility and water lines,and anything else that may affect your plans.38