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How to Make a Working Base Map

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

A base map is a helpful foundation for a site analysis process.  To do a complete analysis, you will want to survey your property and have accurate measurements.  Here is how to make a rough working base map using google maps.

1) Go to and enter in your address.

2) Zoom in until the boundaries of your property are as big as possible in the map.  Make sure the map contains all of your boundaries and the scale provided by google maps.

3) Do a screenshot.  To learn how to do this, visit:

Here's the screenshot that I took of my site:

4) You can either print this image or import it into powerpoint or another program where you can draw on top of the digital image.

5) Using an overlay piece of tracing paper, trace the outlines of your property and any features that will not change as you design your landscape, such as your house, large trees, driveway, etc. If you are doing this digitally, you can trace over your major features as well.   Once you have everything on the map, delete the digital image.  A simplified base map will remain.

Here's how my base map looked as I was working on it. Next, I deleted the digital image below my drawing to create this next image.

Here is my base map. It is simple and clear, in black and white. Notice how I moved the scale bar from Google maps in the map by tracing over it on the digital image. North is orientated up. This will provide a good foundation for drawing on top of to develop the layout of your garden.

6) Make sure to label your map with your address and include a north indicator and a measurable scale.

7) Photocopy the map to put it on a sturdier piece of paper than the tracing paper if you drew this out by hand. If you made this digitally, I recommend getting a couple copies made so you can use it for your garden planning. Personally, I like to have my base map printed on a large sheet of paper (24"x36") for hanging on the wall and smaller pieces of paper for taking out into the garden to sketch ideas on.

7) If you want to take this a step further, visit to figure out how the sun impacts your site from the winter solstice to the summer solstice.

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