Creating a Site Plan for Your Garden

There are several different types of plans, but before creating your final design, you need to draw up a site plan, which shows the basic measurements in your garden, as well as the position, shape and size of elements you intend to keep.

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Measuring Gradients

This method is only suitable for small inclines. It is useful if you want a couple of steps or terraced flower bed and need to calculate the required heights. For more complex works or difficult sites, employ a land surveyor.

1 length of wood just over 3 feet long
level and tape measure
2 or 3 wooden pegs


1. From a specified point on the slope, measure 3 feet down the hill, and hammer in a peg. Check it is vertical using a level.

2. Lay the wood from the soil surface at your original point to the top of the peg, and use a level to check it is horizontal. Measure the height of the peg.

3. Then, 3 feet further down the slope, hammer in a second peg, as before. Lay the wood from the bottom of the first peg to the top of the second.

4. Measure the height of the second peg. Repeat these steps as necessary until you reach the bottom of the slope. Next, calculate the "fall" or drop.

5. To do this, add up the heights of all the pegs. Here the calculation would be: 14 inches + 20 inches + 8 inches = 42 inches over 9 feet.

Employing a Surveyor

You may wish to employ a land surveyor to produce a site plan for you if you have a difficult site. Surveyors can be found in the Yellow Pages or search the internet. Land surveyors must be licensed by an approved in-stitution, so it is best to check that the person you employ is a member of the appropriate organization.

The cost of employing a land surveyor will depend on the size and complexity of your plot, and may vary depending on where you live. This fee will pay for a topographical survey, but a cross-section may be more. Not all land surveyors are used to surveying gardens, so explain your needs carefully to ensure you employ the right professional for the job.

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Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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