Draw an outline plan of your garden at the largest possible scale and try to make it as accurate as you can. You will need to establish a suitable scale, using the squares on the graph paper, before you begin.

Making a plan of your existing garden

  • Highlight all the permanent features: house, boundaries, mature trees and any features that you want to keep undisturbed, such as paths, sheds and other structures.
  • Indicate all access points: doors from the house, garage or shed, and gates from the road or front garden. Planning paths and other routes around the garden will depend on these.
  • Underground pipes and cables: If you know, or even suspect, that there are there do a bit of research and mark their position on your plan. Inspection covers and wires or pipework running into the house wall are good clues as to the whereabouts of drain runs, cables and gas pipes.
  • Good views out of the garden: Mark on your plan where there are and where screening is needed, either for privacy, or to blot out an ugly building or a dominant phone mast or pylon, for instance.
  • Note changes of level to help you choose locations for steps and terracing that will minimise earth-moving operations.

Building a new garden plan

Because it highlights only those features that you have to or wish to keep, your original plan of the garden can serve as the basis for your new design. Use it in conjunction with this sun-and-shade map so that you can allocate the best positions to your new garden features.

Make or print several copies so that you can experiment with different arrangements before settling on a new design.

Changing shade patterns

The parts of your garden that are shaded will change both during the day and throughout the year: the high sun of summer (upper orbit on the diagrams, right) casts less shade than the low sun of winter (lower orbit, right). The smaller or the more enclosed your garden is, the more likely it will be to have corners that are in permanent shade.

Shade patterns

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