How to Draw a Site Plan

To carry out an effective and accurate site inventory, you need a site plan.
HINT: Check to see if there is already a site plan of the building and grounds available. Don’t forget to include the location of underground services.

Why draw a site plan?

A SITE PLAN is a very helpful planning tool. When you are able to see the dimensions and layout of your site on paper it is much easier to calculate the materials you will need and to see where different activities can occur. The site plan makes your project portable; you can carry it in your pocket or mail it. You can make copies. Your planning group can sit around a table and discuss the project over a copy of the plan.

Note: While formal site plans may be needed for some purposes, ‘student friendly’ versions can also be created – to involve them in all aspects of the project and to gather student ideas about what might be included.

To measure the site:
Tape measure, or measuring "wheel" and a compass to find north.

To draw the plan:
Graph paper, pencils or pens, ruler (or scale.)

When you go out to a site to take measurements and notes, do a "rough draft." You don't need to draw straight lines or make it neat, just get the information you need.


  • Measure the length and width of the site, or the portion of the site you want to work on.
  • Locate important built features such as buildings, footpaths, streets, fences, etc. and mark them on your plan.
  • Locate natural features, such as trees, large rocks and water and mark them on your plan.
  • Find north. Knowing where north is will be helpful when you want to know how much sun your site gets. Make a "north arrow" on your plan.

Later sit down with your notes and graph paper and draw your site plan. First draw the outside edges, or boundaries, of the site. Then put in the other features you noticed, such as buildings, sidewalks, trees and fences.

Make some photocopies of your plan so you can draw directly on it and try out a few different ideas. Pass copies around to get feedback on your ideas and to let others contribute theirs.