To measure your plot, you will need a long, metric measuring tape. If you live in Europe and even if you are used to working in feet and inches, you should try to think in metric measurements because your builder's merchants will use metric.

If you haven't already done so, you should read Gardenzine's article on measuring your garden including the follow-up pages on triangulation and offsets. The article gives detailed instructions on how to measure your garden so we don't have to repeat it again here.

If you have followed the instructions in the article correctly, you will have a scaled drawing of your site with any permanent features marked on it. Make a few copies so that you have some working templates.

Scaling your drawing is extremely important. If you scale it correctly, you will be able to use it to obtain quotes from builder's merchants, other suppliers and contractors. You should get into the habit of marking on the plan the scale you have used. Scale is mentioned in the article above but, because it is so important, here is an explanation of scale again.

Making a scaled drawing

A drawing to scale means that you only have to measure your site accurately once. After the plan has been scaled down onto paper, you can simply take a ruler to any part of the drawing and determine the correct real-life measurements.

Scale is always represented on a drawing like this - 1:100 or 1:75 or 1:50. This means that, whatever unit of measurement you choose, you are multiplying the number before the colon (the measurement on paper) by the number after the colon (the real life measurement). So, on a scale of 1:100, then 1cm on your drawing will equal 100cm in real life. That is 1 x 100. Equally, a measurement of 1mm on your drawing will represent 100mm in real life. 2cm will represent 200cm in real life, 3cm will represent 300cm, and so on.

1:100 is an easy scale to work with because 1cm = 100cm or 1m. So, 1.2cm will be equal to 1.2m and so on. A 1:100 scale works quite well with medium sized gardens because it fits nicely onto A4 paper but you can draw a bigger plan by adjusting your scale. A scale of 1:50 means that 1cm = 50cm, 2cm = 100cm, 3cm = 150cm and so on. This will give you a bigger drawing on paper and make your measurements more accurate.

If your garden is really big, then you may have to go to a scale of 1:200. 1cm = 200cm, 2cm = 400cm and so on.

Don't worry too much about accuracy beyond 10cm in real life. If you are working, for example on a 1:100 scale, any decent ruler will give you relatively accurate measurements to 1mm (which is 100mm or 10cm in real life. This is a workable 'tolerance' in most gardening projects. (By tolerance, we mean the amount by which you can afford to be out with your original measurements and still be accurate for quotation purposes).

It might help you to use graph paper when you are marking out your scaled template. This will help you to draw better and to be accurate with your scale.

Here are some examples of completed template drawings for your reference

Go to part six of the course: sketching the draft plan.

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