DIY Design

Creating a scale drawing brings the scope of your project down to the size of a piece of paper.  Essentially, you'll be creating a miniature 'birds-eye-view' of your property.  

Now, shrinking down that much area with accurate measurements takes a bit of effort.  But would you rather measure carefully or plant twice?  I guarantee measuring is cheaper!  

You will need:

  • Measuring Tape (the longer, the better)
  • Clipboard with paper and pencil

Items that aren't required, but are very helpful:
  • A spouse, friend, or just someone who owes you a favor
  • A blueprint of your home or a plot map*
  • Clothespin or paper clip to hold paper down while measuring

1.  We start by drawing a rough sketch of your home/property layout.  This doesn't have to be to scale, but you need to leave plenty of room for marking in the measurements.  A basic outline of the home with the following marked onto it:
  • doors
  • windows
  • sidewalks
  • driveways
  • water spigots and window wells
  • a/c units and utility boxes
  • septic fields and underground lines
  • property lines
  • any existing plants, beds, or hardscapes that will be incorporated into the new design

2.  Measure!  I use a 300' measuring tape, so I am able to leave my partner on the corner of the home and just keep a running tab on the measurements.  For example, the corner of the home is at 0, the window is from 15' to 21' the door is from 26' to 29, and the end of the home is at 48'.  

However, if your tape isn't long enough, you will need to measure each area separately.  In this case, the corner is at 0, the window is from 15-21', the space between the window and door is 5', the door is 3' and the distance from the door to the end of the house is 19'.   

3.  Be prepared to head back out and take some additional measurements once you start transcribing onto the graph paper.  It is very easy to miss an essential measurement or even to have measurements not add up.  Don't get frustrated.  Just remember all the time and money you'll be saving by doing the job right.  

*If you have blueprints, you have a "Get Out of Measuring Free" card.  Congratulations.  It's your lucky day.  The house has been pre-measured for you.  

One caution: I've worked on homes with inaccurate blueprints before.  
Double-checking is beneficial.  You will, however, have to transcribe the measurements onto graph paper.  

With all your measurements in hand, 
you're ready to begin your Scale Drawing!

Once you have all the measurements in hand, it's time to scale it out.  For my drawings, I work in 1/8" or 1/4" scale, so the ruler and graph paper must be in coordinating scales.  It's certainly possible to do 1/10" scale as well, but you'll need the appropriate ruler and graph paper.

Here's what you'll need:

  • scale ruler (with 1/8" and 1/4" marks)  The average ruler has these divisions as well, but they're much easier to read on a scaling ruler.
  • tracing paper (very helpful, but you can work without it)
  • graph paper or vellum (1/8" grid is recommended)
  • mechanical pencil
  • eraser
  • drafting tape (holds paper in place and releases cleanly when done)

Using the marks on the ruler, lay out your measurements on the graph paper.  Keep in mind that you want the center of the property near the center of the paper, so that you don't run out of drawing space.  That being said, you'll need to select the 1/8" scale if your property is large or your paper is small.  

If I'm only doing a portion of the yard, I use an 8.5x11 sheet.  For a small house with an average yard, I can often use an 11x14 sheet of paper at 1/8" scale.  For larger properties, an upgrade to an 18x24 sheet or even a 24x36 sheet may be necessary.  

Pro Note: I prefer to lay them out on tracing paper (with the graph paper underneath), because I can center the property on the graph paper when the scaling is complete, copy it over, and have a nicer looking product.  

When I get all the permanent structures scaled out onto the vellum grid, I marker them in with a sharpie.  This allows you to erase design elements without losing permanent elements.  In the above example, I've only markered the home's shell.  I could marker in the driveway, sidewalk and patio, as the homeowners want those items to stay as is.  

Once all your markings are in place, you're ready to design!'ve done all the measuring and drafting.  That's kind of like taping and patching before you paint. Not so much fun, but necessary for a job well done.'s time for the fun.  Time to decide what to put on that nice grid of yours.  You need to decide what your preferences and priorities are.  Remember to include all essential decision-makers in the house!

See the Priorities & Preferences page and determine what essentials you'll be incorporating onto your grid.

Now that you know what you want, 
it's time to lay it all out.  
Having the gridded layout of your property makes it easy to see what you can feasibly fit and where it will best sit.

First things first, if you're putting in hardscape, such as a new deck, patio, sidewalk, gazebo, Olympic stadium.....make sure you have it in place on the grid before you start planting design.  A few hardscape considerations:

Traffic: How will be pass through, to or around this element?  If it's a deck or patio, is it ample enough for people to sit comfortably while someone passes through?  Is it in the best location with regards to the house?

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...