If a landscape is a picture, it must have a canvas. This canvas is the lawn. Upon the lawn, the artist paints with tree and bush and flower as the painter does upon his canvas with brush and pigments.
The opportunity for artistic composition and design is nowhere so great as in the landscape garden, because no other art has such a limitless field for the expression of its emotions.
The making of a good and spacious lawn, then, is the very first practical consideration in a landscape. The lawn provided, the gardener conceives what is the dominant and central feature in the place, and then throws the entire premises into subordination to this feature. In home grounds this central feature is the house.
To scatter trees and bushes over the area defeats the fundamental purpose of the place,--the purpose to make every part of the grounds lead up to the home and to accentuate its homelikeness. It is desirable to have a definite plan on paper for the location of the leading features of the place. These features are the residence, the out buildings, the walks and drives, the service areas, the border planting, flower-garden, and vegetable-garden. It should not be expected that the map plan can be followed in every detail, but it will serve as a general guide.
To begin, you will need to draw a base plan to scale. For most properties a scale of 1/8"=1' is workable; for small properties or a particular area of a larger development 1/4"=1' may be better. Graph paper with lines indicating a particular scale may also be helpful.
You should include all the major features of your property on your drawing such as existing walks, terraces, outbuildings, trees, shrubs, drives, property lines, easements, utilities, etc. After you have prepared the base plan you can place tracing paper or tissue paper over the original plan to sketch possible ideas and solutions to your landscape needs and problems.