The next chapter of my own garden project is to decide how I want it to look and work. Before I can do that though I have to plot out the garden as it is now. A survey will usually be done by your garden designer but if you have a large or complicated garden then a surveyor may need to be employed.
The first stage is to measure every detail of the existing layout. The only area you can, almost, guarantee is square will be the house so start with plotting the house measurements. If the garden is separate from the house then a shed or garage or similar can be used as your starting point.
Once you have these to work from you can triangulate the garden perimeters and features by measuring from the corners of the house nearest to each of the points you want to plot. This is a simplified description but gives you an idea of how these measurements are taken. When using triangulation you reduce the possibility of mistakes.
The measuring can take a long time to complete but its worth doing, the last thing you want half way through drawing the plans is having to re-measure.
Next I like to draw the plans both on paper and using a 3D program such as Google Sketchup. Google sketchup has both free and paid for versions, the free version is the one I have used for the images below. This stripped down version of your garden allows you to see just how much space you really have.
One other little luxury I have allowed is a considerable upgrade to our current cars, its always nice to dream. I must say they do complement the garden nicely. Another good thing about programs such as this is a little imagination can go a long way with downloadable models almost anything can be possible.
The next step will be to start the creative part of the design process.