Find the survey of your lot if you can...
Locate a survey of your property if it is available. You may find it in the folder with the documents from the meeting where you closed on your house. Although most surveys are remarkably accurate, be sure to verify all dimensions with a long tape measure. We have seen surveys in error by as much as 10 feet, so you can't be too careful establishing the outside dimensions of your lot. Normally, homeowners irrigate the setback at the front of the yard, and any areas which include utility easements as long as care is taken to avoid damage to the utilities. Be sure to call your utility company to learn where your utilities are buried.
Mark major boundaries and objects in the yard...
Establish the straight edges of the lot by measurements with a long tape measure. Sighting along the walls of the house is a good way to locate objects in the yard. The edges of the house create imaginary lines and the distance from trees and other objects can be measured to this line. If a tree is tall, try to indicate the approximate reach of the foliage with a wavy circle around the trunk, and indicate the diameter of the trunk with a solid circle. Mark shrubs, walks, walls, etc. If you can get everything placed to within a foot, you will have done a good job. A scale of 1 in = 10 ft is usually adequate for most city lots, while 1 in = 20 ft may be required for larger lots..
This is a drawing on how to sight along walls to locate objects in the yard. The imaginary lines formed by edges of your house give you reference lines crossing your lot. This allows you to make very short distance measurements to objects in the yard using a short tape measure.
We don't do windows...
It is also important to show the location of any windows, especially if they are low to the ground, and indicate the height of the window sill above the ground if it is within several feet of the ground. This will tell you where to be careful when spraying water toward the house. If your slab is 10 ft. high, it won't matter much if you spray it a little, but if you have a window only 18 inches from the ground, you need to be careful not to water it.
If you have a curved edge on your property, you can very accurately measure it by drawing a straight line from two points on the curve. Accurately locate the ends of the straight line and mark them on your drawing. Then, at several points along this straight line, measure the distance to the end of the line, and the distance from the line to the curved edge. By making several such measurements you can then connect the dots to accurately transfer the curve to your drawing.
Here is a drawing of reconstructing curves in this manner.
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