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4H Wildlife Stewards
Bringing Science and Nature Together...one school at a time.


By Lisa Albert
4-H Wildlife Steward for Deer Creek Elementary School

Accurate measurement of the site is the essential first stage. Draw the outline of your property, your house, existing plantings, etc. freehand. Record all the measurements you make of the site on this rough plan. Find the corners of your property either by using fence corners, property markers or survey pins. Measure your lot size. Then, measure you house. Next break down each side to its smaller components. Remember to show which windows open, if they open in or out, how tall each window is and how far above the ground the window is. Note which way the doors swing. Using triangulation, site your house on your lot. Triangulation is the method used to record an unknown fixed point by measuring to it from two known fixed points. Use the same method to site existing plantings, path, etc. To measure a landscape curve use the offset measuring method. Take 90° offsets at regular intervals - say every 3ft - to record the general shape of curves such as in a flowerbed or lawn. Mark each measurement and join the points freehand.

The First Stages Triangulating and Defining Curves

Measure slope on existing patios and pathways, low and high points of the property and the bottom and top of all visible slope sections. You may see these elevations shown in feet above sea level, as in the drawing below, but that is generally unnecessary. We suggest that you transfer these findings to your drawing by arbitrary numbers. The lowest point is 0, each additional rise in 1 foot is counted by 1, 2, etc. You can make note of slope changes by drawing arrows on your base map, pointing in the direction of drainage or by drawing contour lines. This information is necessary to make slope changes and corrections, such as adding steps or creating a swale.

Once you are finished with your measurements, begin your assessment tour. Note areas that are sunny/shady, boggy/dry. Where are the hose bibs? Which views do you want to keep, which to block? Where are the prevailing winds? Don't forget utility lines and easements. Add your comments to your rough drawing. Refer to the drawing below to see what to include in your base map.

Finally take your rough drawing and transfer the numbers and notes to a finished drawing on graph paper.

A Sample Base Map


Using Ariel Maps for Maps

Check out these great website for getting ariel maps of your school site.

Mapping websites


4-H Wildlife Stewards, Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon 1209,
Portland, OR 97214 - 503-916-6074, e-mail: wildifestewards@oregonstate.edu
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