Landscape Base Maps
My number one tip for all landscape design professionals preparing a landscape design plan sheet is to visit the site. When visiting a site, you should:
• Take pictures, especially if you see anything unique to the site
• Run a long measuring tape in two different directions to spot trees and features and property markers
• Line up square elements like buildings by moving your head until you can just barely see both corners
• Look up and note any overhead power lines
• Try to identify the existing trees and approximate their diameter
• If you have a D-tape, use it to measure the existing trees
• Note where shade or other factors have diminished the turf grass areas
• Find the stream buffers and wetland areas
• Note any significant large masses of shrubs
• Look for natural drainage patterns
• Mark north
• Talk to the clients
All this information should be included on your base map. If you can, have the site surveyed and photographed.
By visiting the site, you will create a much improved design, and get a sense of place. It is essential for good landscape design. You will find a potential landscape construction site completely different from what you see on satellite maps, Google Earth, and GIS layers. I have reviewed hundreds of landscape design proposals where the person drawing the plan has never seen the site and might not be aware of the important elements. It is very obvious in the proposals. Much of the information you can learn about a site is located below the leafy tree canopy. The ground-level connection produces a broader understanding of the site.