With the squashes and potatoes stored for winter, garlic planted for summer, bulbs planted for spring, there’s one more garden project that’s great for fall days: Plotting your existing landscape and planning its future.

One way to start is to find your yard on Google Earth (downloaded free from google.com/earth/index) and outline it so that you have an overall map for reference.  To find your yard once you’ve downloaded Google Earth, put your town or address into the search box, then zoom in on your area.

To outline various areas of your yard, click on the “Add Path” button in the toolbar. This opens a box that enables you to name your “path” (your landscape outline, in this case). Type in something like “My Landscape.”

Then click on “Style, Color” to select the size and color of the path you’re going to use to outline your landscape. Click on the box next to the word “Color.” This brings up a color wheel. Click on a place on the color wheel, click on “OK” at the bottom of the color wheel, and you’ve chosen your color.

Click on the up or down arrows to determine the width of your path. I selected 5.0 for this exercise. I like a bold path.

Now hold your mouse over the place on your map where you want your path to begin. While holding your mouse down, outline the perimeter of the landscape. When you’ve finished outlining this areas, stop holding the mouse down and then click “OK” in the lower right corner of the Google Earth – New Path dialogue box that should have remained open while you traced your landscape perimeter. The outlined landscape will show up as “My Landscape” under “Places” in the Google Earth sidebar.

You can repeat this process to outline other features on your map, such as your house, driveway, garage, orchard, vegetable garden….

To mark particular items in your landscape, click on the “Add Placemark” button in the toolbar; it looks like a pushpin. When you do that, a pushpin will appear on your landscape with a box flashing around it. Drag the box to the item of interest, maybe that chestnut oak you planted 25 years ago; name the item in the dialogue box; click on the pushpin icon in the little box to the right of the dialogue box if you want a different icon (I’ve selected circles); click “OK” in the icon dialogue box; the click “OK” in the bottom of the “New Placemark” dialogue box. Your point of interest should now be located and named.

Now you have a squiggly outline of your property, to scale (see the scale in the bottom left corner of the Google Earth map). Important areas that are landscaped or are going to be landscaped are identified, as are existing trees and other items of interest.

You can use this information and the scale to create a neater landscape design in a program such as smallblueprinter.com/garden/planner, a fun program costing only $24; or on graph paper, which you can print, free, just by putting “graph paper” into Google.

Happy planning!