Working to scale, it is important to diagram the planting space and the surrounding hardscapes in order to plan access and the correct plant sizes.
First use a piece of simple quarter inch graph paper and a long tape measure. For a backyard space the 25 foot tape measure seems to work fine. Measure the hardscapes, sidewalks, steps and house area. Sketch and make notes of these measurements on the grid paper, being as accurate as possible.
Once you have your initial notes and graph paper measurements done, overlay a fresh sheet of 8 scale vellum paper onto your graph paper and trace the spaces using a drafting triangle, ruler, and circle template. This cleans up the design and gives you an opportunity to refine the spaces for more accuracy. Using 8 scale, 8 subsections per inch, helps in measuring the spaces. Being neat at this point pays off later with less visual noise and confusing lines.
Once the new base map is finished on a fresh piece of vellum paper, overlay the new base map with tracing paper (bum wad), taping both down to the table. Make small alignment marks on the corners of hardscapes so that you can easily line up the tracing paper and base map later.
Now we can begin adding the plants. Using 3 or 4 different sheets of tracing paper you can play with the different positions the plants might be in. First place the trees, in this case they are 8 to 10 feet across. Using the correct sized circle stencil, the are easily placed with a 4 H pencil. Secondly add the shrubs that are next to and under the trees. Next to and under the shrubs are perennials and groundcover plants. Using the different sheets of tracing paper, try a few different arrangements. This is a creative process at this point, so neatness does not count on tracing paper. Its about seeing the different positions of the plants and how they might fit.
the yellow sheet at left is the final tracing paper with the plants. There is also arrows showing access into and through the orchard space. You can see the little benchmark +'s and L-shaped markings used to align the tracing paper with the base map.
At this point you have a clean base map on a scale paper and a final choice of plant positions on one of the tracing paper practice sheets. Place the fresh base map on top of your final tracing paper plant design and redraw the plants using the correct stencil. Again, this is an opportunity to be more accurate with the position of the plants and make the design neat and easy to read.
Once you have positioned the trees and shrubs, the perennials, and groundcover, you can start selecting the plant species for those spaces. Number the plant circles and make sure your plant lists coordinates with those numbers so you will know where to put your transplants later.
This small planting bed will soon become a fruitful orchards and we look forward to many years of production.