Using Google Earth to map the garden

I'm noticing a lot of other bloggers like haphazard musings and creations, Heavy Petal, and Kerri Conan on Bitten writing up explicit garden plans and it's making me realize that I ought to do more than just stick my plants in the ground with the tallest in the back. This post from The Urban Garden Project in particular inspired me look into the book All New Square Foot Gardening and think more seriously about my plan. In a nutshell, Square Foot Gardening recommends building 4'x4' square plots which are divided into 16 one foot squares. How many plants you grow in each one foot square depends on the type of plant. The idea is that you can reach the entire plot from each side, and eliminate wasted space.

So I've started by just mapping out where my vegetable beds should be. I grabbed a screenshot of an aerial view of my back yard from Google Earth and used the ruler tool to draw a line representing 4 feet:

Using Gimp (you can also use photoshop, but Gimp has the advantage of being free) I traced out the house and the shed, and drew other features of the yard on a layer:

On another layer, using the reference line I drew in Google Earth, I drew squares which scale to 4'x4'. I dragged these around to come up with this tentative plan:

The good news is that with this plan, I won't have much work to do in terms of removing sod -- I cleared away the area to the east of the shed, and along the north wall last year and now there are just some sparse weeds growing there. The bad news is that even if I ditch the fifth veggie plot, according to Square Foot Gardening, four plots is major overkill for just one person. But I already have four each of my two types of tomatoes, three types of peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, and squash started. So I don't want to throw those out. I'd also like at least 4-6 square feet each of beets, carrots, and beans, 1 square foot each of my 8 types of herbs, and at least 8 square feet of mesclun and arugula (planted two at a time, one week apart). That's about 64 square feet.

I might be giving a lot of veggies away to neighbors and perhaps a food bank.


  1. This is a very cool idea! I wish I was this creative... and had a yard for a garden.

  2. That is one high-tech way. I've always just pulled out my house plat from my home purchase then scanned it in or simply xeroxed it to doodle away. Nice blog, :-)

  3. Kathy, that's a really good idea too. I'm actually renting so I don't have any homeowner documents.

  4. Val -

    You put my excel method to shame and now I want to try using your example above! Great post! Great to hear that you are using the square foot gardening method too! You won't regret it! Keep up the good work!


  5. Great idea. How very high tech :)