On your way to completing your own successful garden design plan one of the key steps is to measure your garden.

It is essential for you to create a survey drawing of your garden so that you are able to work out the plan correctly. Using your survey you can experiment on paper rather than on the ground, a far more efficient way to begin the process. It is also much cheaper to make your decisions on paper than to do this for real on the ground.

While doing a survey may, at first sight, appear to be a little on the complicated side, it is in fact quiet easy to do. Do persist, and the results will certainly be worth it.

During this process you will create a scaled drawing of your garden. This simply means that a small measurement on your page will equal a larger measurement on the ground. For instance, one centimeter/inch = one meter/yard on the ground. The advantage of a scaled drawing is that you can work out your design, decide how much materials and how many plants you need, apply your budget, all on paper before ever beginning work on the ground.

A black and white drawing of a measuring tape that can be used to do a garden survey

Following the simple steps on this page will make your life much easier when it comes to measuring your existing garden.

Some or all of this work may already be done for you. The best way to look at your plot is from above, otherwise known as a Plan View. You may have an aerial photograph of your property, otherwise you can to get a plot outline from your local land registry office. You may be able to see your plot on Google Earth.

Whichever of these you have access to, do look for the scale at which the image is presented. If the plot map you have is already to scale then you have the ideal starting point for designing of your garden.

Important Tip: Once your survey drawing is complete, never, ever draw or write or make any other marks on it. Once you know the scale and are happy that you can use it to create your design, then copy it, and put the original away safely until you need it again. Always work on the copy and never on the original. This will mean that when you want to start over, or otherwise revise your ideas, that your survey drawing is ready for you to begin again.

One of the simplest ways to complete your planning is on graph paper, which I will e-mail to you. I suggest you print more than one copy to allow for mistakes, to plan changes and to develop new ideas.

Check the grids on the graph paper to ensure you know what scale you will be working to when measuring and creating your plot. In this case scale represents the ratio of a distance on your graph paper to the actual distance on the ground. Select the longest dimension in your garden and then, looking at your graph paper, see if you can allow 1 meter/1 yard per square. If this doesn’t work try allowing two meters/yards per square and so on. For example, if 1 cm/inch on a survey represents 1 meter/yard on the ground, the scale would be 1 cm/inch = 1 meter/yard. It is essential that you select a scale which will allow for the whole of your drawing to appear on one sheet of paper.

Instead of using graph paper you can also go to your local retail supplier of architectural drawing equipment and get yourself a scale ruler. This will allow you to work on plain paper.