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How to print a scaled base plan of your property

Nicola Bludau scaled plan SketchUp

What is a base plan?

In permaculture it is recommended to draw a base plan of the property. This makes it easier to convert your garden in great looking productive paradise. A base plan is a scaled plan which shows what's on your land now like trees, buildings paths and so on.

Why should a base plan be printed out?

Today about everybody has the access to a computer and drawing programs. I still highly advocate designing manually. Your ideas will flow more freely and you will be much more productive (believe me!). Designing is not about drawing up one idea which will be set in stone – it is about drawing up a hundred ideas and getting it right.

Drawing programs like AutoCAD or SketchUp are complex programs which will rather hinder your creative progress.

Why should the plan be scaled and which scale should I choose?

On a scaled plan you can simply measure out distances with a triangular scale ruler. Gommon scales are used for your purpose it will most likely be 1:100, 1:200 or if you own several acres 1:500 (this is for metric scaling). Croocked scales like 1:17 or 1: 32 will slow down the planning process considerably.

How to print out a scaled plan?

The following steps describe how you get a fairly detailed plan using Sketchup. In SketchUp you have access to Google Earth images. The images might not be 100% up to date, but it will probably contain most of the information you need:

  • Download SketchUp on your computer, it is free!
  • Start SketchUp, choose from the templates – I used ‘construction documentation millimetres’. This sends you directly to a two dimensional drawing.
  • Go to ‘camera’ unhook ‘perspective’ so that ‘parallel projection’ is ticked.
  • Go to ‘file’ – ‘geo-location’ – ‘add location’.
  • Type in your address.
  • The aerial view of your address appears, press ‘select region’, move the blue pins until you are happy with the region.
  • Now hit ‘grab’.
  • If you want to rotate the plan you need to go to ‘file’ – ‘unlock all’.
  • Zoom in to get the biggest possible view of your property .
  • Go to ‘file’ – ‘print setup’ and choose the printer, paper size and ‘landscape’.
  • Go to ‘print preview’, unhook ‘fit to page’ and ‘model extends’. Now set the printing scale: if you want to print 1:100, type in ‘printout’ 1m and in SketchUp 200m (Likewise if you want to print out 1:100 you type 1 in ‘printout’ and 100 in SketchUp).
  • In my case I had to unhook ‘high accuracy HLR’, otherwise the whole property was greyed out.
  • Have an eye how many pages you will need before printing out. The plan will be printed out on several sheets of paper you have to mount together.
  • You might want to print one plan for the whole property and some bigger scaled areas were you want to plant in more detail.

Some tips for designing your garden:

For manually designing there are some great tools and it is really fun working with them! You will need:

  • A roll of translucent drafting paper, 27 gr is what is commonly used for sketches,
  • Pencils, colour pencils, markers, ballpoint – whatever you like to draw with,
  • A triangular scale ruler (unless your plan is in 1:100 this makes measuring of different scales really easy),
  • A cup of tea, coffee or a glass of wine.

A hand drawn sketch is probably all you need. After the creative process you might draw your plan in SketchUp, but this should not prevent you to do changes – you rather would use this plan then as a new ‘base-plan’.

Continue reading about my journey towards self-sufficiency.

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