If you're thinking about redesigning your garden or even starting a new one from scratch, you can save yourself a great deal of time and money by drawing up a garden plan. Putting your ideas down on paper first lets you experiment without the expense and the first step is to measure your garden.

Your measurements should be as accurate as possible because this will help you to calculate the amount of materials you will need when you come to do the job. Invest in a good measuring tape - one that goes out to 30m is usually good enough for most gardens and you can buy one for under 30 in most DIY stores or builder's merchants. Long tapes let you take running measurements and do triangulations. If possible, get yourself a willing assistant. If you can't get anyone to help you, then a peg or a heavy brick that you can hook the end of your tape over will do just as well.

Regardless of the shape of your garden, you always start with the house and your house should sit square onto the plan. Accurate measurement of the house is essential because you will use it as a fixed point to measure everything else. Draw a rough sketch of the shape of the house first, including all the little corners and doorways. Only draw that part of the house which is relevant to the garden you want to design - front or rear. You don't have include it all unless there are side gardens too. With your back to the house, take a running measurement from the boundary, all the way across the house. This will give you the entire width of your plot at the threshold of the house as well as the position of any features connected to the house. Take metric measurements in cm. Nowadays, all building materials are given in metric so this will make it easier for you when you come to mark in features. Once you have done the width, do the same running measurements for the length. Note: In the example below, there are parts of the plot which are not visible when taking a running measurement along the length so you would have to take a second running measurement from a known fixed point. Click on images to enlarge

If you have a square or a rectangular garden, you can go ahead and transpose your measurements onto a scaled drawing. A scale of 1:100 is okay for most gardens. This means that for every 1 metre you have measured, you would represent that on your drawing as 1 centimetre. For example 200cm on your plot would equal 2cm on your drawing. Likewise 450cm on your plot would equal 4.5cm on your drawing. Simply divide your initial meaurement by 100. If you have a small plot, you can use a scale of 1:50. In that case, you would divide by 50.

Make a few copies of your scaled template drawing so that you can experiment with different ideas and compare the drawings. Now all you have to do is to play with design until you come up with something you like. Or you can wait until next month's issue when we will be giving you more advice on drawing a garden plan.

But what happens if your garden isn't square or rectangular or if you want to mark in features that have to stay? In that case, you will need to TRIANGULATE

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Online home garden design course
An eight part course to help you design your own garden. From drawing up a wish list to the final plan...Read more

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