Skip to main content

How to draw a landscape plan — and why your yard needs one

Starting a landscape remodeling project without a landscape plan is like cooking a seven-course meal without following a recipe. It could lead to some pretty disastrous and unintended results. To make the most of your outdoor space and prevent wasting time, money, and effort, a detailed landscape plan is necessary. We’re going to walk you through why you need one and how to create one that will keep you organized throughout your exciting project.

A front yard with xeriscape landscaping
Simone Hogan/Shutterstock

Why do you need a landscape plan?

Landscape remodeling depends on several factors, including the location of your property’s boundary lines, your underground utility lines, spots on your lawn that have issues with drainage, and many other considerations. Starting a project without a plan could lead to some messy and pricy situations in your project that will waste your time and energy. For example, you could start to prepare a vegetable garden plot to find that the drainage in that area of the lawn is very poor, effectively rendering your garden unfruitful. Creating a landscape plan is fairly simple and doesn’t take too much time, so it’s best to be diligent with your planning and organization.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to draw a landscape plan

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Your property’s deed map
  • Steel tape measure of at least 100 ft
  • Graph paper
  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Blank sheets of paper
  • Ground stakes
  • Yarn
Recommended Videos

Create a to-scale drawing of your property

The first step in creating a landscape plan is to create a to-scale drawing of your property. This step aims to get the existing property measurements onto paper, along with all of the existing features of your property like plant beds, trees, ponds, or patios.

  • Measure out and draw property boundaries: Use the graph paper’s pre-measured squares to determine your scale. This will depend on your property’s overall size, but a commonly used scale is 1/8 inch = 1 ft.
    • Use your tape measure first to measure out the boundaries of your property. If boundaries are more than 100 feet, you may want to use your stakes to indicate 100-foot increments. Measuring out your property’s boundaries is quite simple if your property is a near-perfect square or rectangle, but if it is an odd shape with non-90 degree angles, you may need to use some geometry skills to get it all down on paper.
  • Measure out and draw property features: Add your property’s existing features to your graph paper in relation to the property’s boundaries. Your property’s deed map should include the measurements and area of your house and garage, so drawing them on your grid paper to scale should be simple.
    • To add existing features like plant beds, patios, and firepits, use your tape measure and start at a corner of your boundary line and measure to the nearest existing feature. Then, use your measuring and geometry skills (or Google) to figure out the area of that feature and draw it on your grid paper to scale.
    • Next, measure the distance from the end of the first feature to the next one and repeat the process until you have filled in all of your property’s existing features in their to-scale location on your grid paper. Make several copies of your freshly drawn to-scale property map.

If your property deed map does not include the location of utilities, reach out to your utility provider. You’ll want to know their location and indicate them on the to-scale drawing of your property before digging up space for a pond, for example.

Create a bubble diagram with your desired landscape updates

A bubble diagram is a copy of your existing property map with all of your desired features added. Take the to-scale property map you just created and start to fill in any features you’d like to add to your property. If you’d like to add a fountain, for example, you’ll want to draw a circle where the fountain will look and operate best on your tracing paper.

Keep in mind that your utilities and how they will impact each feature. If you want to add any plant life to your landscape, like a tree or bushes, you’ll want to draw those items at their to-scale full-grown size to be sure they will be appropriate for the location years down the road. Be sure to label each feature “bubble” with what it will be.

The final plan

Once you’re satisfied with the location of all the added features on your landscape design, it’s a good idea to do a mock set up on your property. Using your tape measure, stakes, and yarn, set up areas on your property to indicate where each feature will go. This method will help you determine if you like the flow of your new landscape plan as you walk through your physical property.

Once you’re satisfied, you can move on to finalizing your to-scale landscape plan. Using your colored pencils and some artistic flair, get creative by filling in both existing and desired features with fancy colors.

While it can seem overwhelming to take on the big project of redesigning your property landscape, the key to doing it successfully is organization. Having a detailed, to-scale landscape design is the first step in bringing together and organizing all of your grandiose ideas. Once you’re organized, these ideas will, slowly but surely, go from lofty ideas to a beautiful reality.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
What colors go with gray? How to make a neutral hue pop in your home
Make gray walls work for your home decor with complementary colors
Modern living room with gray walls and yellow furniture

Neutral colors like gray and taupe are always popular options for your home's interior design. Both are versatile shades that can go with a plethora of other hues, which means you can easily change up the look of your decor with gray walls and a rotating rainbow of accessories like colorful throw pillows. With all the different shades of gray paint available, from matte to glossy, warm to cool, and brownish to blueish, it's certainly possible to find the one that's perfect for you and your home.

Of course, you can always have too much of a good thing. While gray can be a sophisticated and elegant shade, too much gray can wash out a room or make it feel dull and dingy or cold and unwelcoming. Think of gray as the neutral backdrop on a canvas that lets your color palette shine, and you can't go wrong. So, it’s important to incorporate other colors into the decor, whether it be with pieces of furniture, art, or throw blankets -- but what colors go with gray? If you're looking for the best options to brighten up your current decor, keep reading to find out how to accent this elegant tone.

Read more
How to level a yard (and 3 reasons why you really should)
Reasons to level your yard and how to do it
Home with manicured lawn

Homeowners spend countless hours manicuring, improving, and decorating their lawns to make them pristine and gorgeous, but many fall short when it comes to knowing how to level a yard.

The home's lawn is crucial to maintaining the overall aesthetic of the property. Fertilizing, replacing sod, and regularly watering your lawn all go a long way in making it lush and vibrant. However, all that work on an uneven or bumpy lawn can still result in a yard that appears imperfect and unkept.

Read more
11 bad ideas for your front yard that will kill your curb appeal
Avoid these mistakes for your front yard
A front yard with xeriscape landscaping

You may be thinking about all the projects you want to tackle outdoors thanks to the warmer weather. While you may have grand plans to improve your curb appeal, taking the time and patience to properly land on a front yard design is important. If you want to ensure you're staying on trend and not dating your home, there are some common mistakes to avoid. These will help with the resale value of your home and leave you the envy of all your neighbors.
Landscaping mistakes
These are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid when thinking about landscaping your front yard.
Not having a game plan
One of the biggest mistakes is not having a plan when it comes to the design and layout of your landscaping. This can leave your yard feeling disjointed and your plants at risk of looking overgrown and out of place. Meet with a local garden expert or map out your front yard, including where all plants, trees, rocks, water features, and flowers will live. This will help ensure things don't look too busy or sparse, and it will make your yard feel well thought out.
Using the wrong plants
Understand which plants work for your exact yard. If they need full sun or partial shade, or require a lot of maintenance, it may be a disaster waiting to happen. Not only do you need to consider placement in terms of sunlight, but different flowers and plants have varying schedules of watering, so you want to know exactly what's expected before you plant them.
Too many decorations
Everyone loves a yard that changes with the season in terms of decor, but you can overdo it. You want to avoid garden decor that makes your front yard look tacky or cheap (we're talking to you, plastic deer), so keep decorations to a minimum.

Color pitfalls
We love color, but you need to be careful how and where you use it.
Choosing all one color
We love a monochromatic look as much as the next person, but your home should be welcoming and warm from the first glance. If you prefer having your house the same color as outdoor furniture and plants/flowers, use it as a backdrop. Add one or two pops of color with chair pillows or your front door to breathe a little life into your home.
Choosing too many colors
While it's good to have a little variety, you don't want to overwhelm the outside of your home. Bright colors may work in some parts of the country, but go easy on the rest of your choices. Picking one primary color and one contrasting color that complements it is the safest approach, especially if you're planning to sell your home.

Read more