How To

How To Measure Your Garden


30th May 2014

It’s almost summer and here at The Tape Store thoughts are turning to the most or least (depending on how green fingered you are) cared for room in the house – the garden.

Hopefully, the sun will shine long enough this year for us all to enjoy some quality time in our favourite outdoor room and it’s only natural to want to make our gardens as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

Whether you’re planning a conservatory, laying fresh turf, digging a water feature or redesigning flower beds measuring your garden can be tricky. But forget about hiring expensive professionals – get outside, enjoy the weather and start measuring!

Some careful planning, a willing assistant and an accurate measuring tool will gear you up for garden measurement success. Read our step-by-step guide and learn how to measure your garden.

Be prepared!

You will need:

  • Suitable measuring tool (see below)
  • Pencil/pen
  • Large sketch pad
  • Someone to help you
  • Peg or heavy brick (if you can’t get an assistant)

The importance of using the right tape

Garden lines, walls and boundaries that look straight to the naked eye are often curved so don’t take any chances. It’s important to measure your garden as accurately as possible to prevent costly mistakes, especially if you’re investing in something as expensive as an extension or new conservatory.

Your choice of measuring tool will depend greatly on the size and shape of your garden. For smaller garden spaces of regular shape we recommend using a surveyors' tape. A long tape such as this will allow you to take running measurements and calculate triangulations for tricky spaces with ease. We stock a variety of long steel and fibreglass tape measures to suit all budgets, from 30m all the way up to 100m.

For large gardens and open spaces, up to 1000m, we recommend a measuring wheel. Extremely simple to operate, measuring wheels are the tool of choice when a tape just isn’t up for the job. For gardens of all sizes bounded by a wall, building or fence a laser measure may prove a good choice. Simply point and shoot to obtain your measurements, accurate to within +/- 1.0mm (most models).

Measuring your garden

Make a rough ‘bird’s eye’ sketch of your garden – you can achieve best results by drawing what you see from an upstairs window in your house. If this isn’t possible, don’t worry, it’s only a rough sketch and doesn’t even need to be to scale.

Be sure to include all the main features in your garden:

  • House
  • Boundaries (walls/hedge/fence)
  • Gate
  • Flowerbeds
  • Ponds/water feature
  • Swimming pool
  • Patios/paving
  • Paths
  • Steps
  • Trees/shrubs
  • Lawn
  • Outbuildings/garage/shed

Drawing your plan on a large sketch pad leaves plenty of room for making notes – notes about the features you plan to keep or items/plants in need of repair or maintenance as you view your garden from this critical perspective.

Gardens of regular shape

If your garden is rectangular/square and flat measure along each side of the plot and make a note of the measurements on your rough sketch.
Diagram 1
As above measure any large structures in your garden, such as the house or outbuildings, and make a note of their measurements on the sketch.

Next measure how far they sit from your boundary by measuring from the wall of the structure to the boundary at right angles (90°) – this is also known as ‘off-setting’.

Top Tip: if your garden is bounded by fence panels measure the width of one panel, count the total number of panels then add them together!
Diagram 2

Gardens of irregular shape

For curved gardens or gardens with irregular features in them, such as a tree or curved fence, you need to create a ‘baseline’ to take your measurements from.

Select a straight line in your graden, for example, a boundary fence or a house wall, and mark it on your sketch. This baseline will act as the starting point for all your measurements.

Measure the distance between the baseline and the irregular features in your garden at right angles (90°) to the baseline – if the features are large/wide you should take several measurements at intevals.

All large features should be measured in this way. Smaller features, such as drains or plantpots, can be ignored if you wish as long as they have been noted on your rough sketch.

For irregularly shaped features, like a pond or freeform lawn, measure a rectangle around it and mark this on your sketch. Measure out from the rectangle to your baseline to establish its position in the garden.
Diagram 3

Using triangulation

If you have a feature which is proving tricky to measure from the baseline you can use the ‘triangulation’ method instead. This is not as scary as it sounds! Triangulation means measuring the feature from two fixed points - two corners of the house are ideal as shown in the diagram below.

Angled boundaries should be measured using the triangulation method in reverse. That is, measure from either end of the angled boundary to one fixed point on the house.
Diagram 4
Whether your garden is big or small, overgrown or pristine we have a measuring tool up to the task – the problem is you will be spoilt for choice! If you need help choosing the right measuring tool for your garden design project our friendly and experienced customer service team are always on hand to offer practical and impartial advice.

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