This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
By Geo. S. Woodward, Civil Engineer And Architect, No. 20 Broadway, New York.
When one sets himself to work systematically to build a house, having in view the principles of convenience, economy, and proportion, his first step is to make or have made a plan embodying his ideas, over which he may study, cut down, increase, rearrange, etc., until his conceptions have taken a positive form, and are freed from all impracticabilities. This is business-like and profitable, and the result gratifying.
Whatever arguments are used in advocating the proper planning and study of house arrangement, (and there are many of great weight,) are equally applicable to the proper arrangement of one's farm, country seat, or garden, that the whole management may be conducted with the most ease,and every thing be properly done and have its proper place. The full value or capacity of one's property can not be ascertained unless this be suitably carried out, for measurements and appearances are deceptive when viewed on the ground, and particularly so when all can not be embraced at once by the eye.
The arrangement of a country place, with a view to its convenience and economy of labor, and the best position of buildings and roads for artistic effect, is a matter of great importance, and deserves from all who contemplate the making of a new place, or the remodelling of an old one, a close and careful study, for on this depends success. Whatever change or improvement may be contemplated, the most intelligent, and at the same time the most economical manner of managing them is from a plan; and the first step should be to have a careful survey made of all boundary and division lines, and then of all topographical features, that a map or plan may be made, showiug the exact size and shape of the prop, erty, and the position of every fence, building, road, stream, hill, etc, that may be on it. The survey of the land lines of property in the older states will not only satisfy the owner of the correctness of his purchase, but will, in seven cases out of ten, illustrate the fact that prominent errors exist which it should be his. duty to have corrected without delay. There are some men foolish enough to buy real estate, and pay for it, without a resurvey, and do not discover blunders in description until years have elapsed, and original owners dead and gone.
Errors of description may arise from many causes; the omission or repetition of a course and distance; the substitution of north for south, or east for west; including lines that have been cut off by other sales; and the copying of clerical errors that have run through and increased in twenty or more conveyances; the practice of deeding lands from surveys made by adjoining neighbors at intervals of generations; using lines made by differant surveyors at widely different periods, all of which are referred without dates to the ever-changing magnetic meridian; having them compiled by some one not familiar with the peculiar phraseology of surveyors, and neglecting the different variations and attractions of the magnetic needle, etc.
He who buys a piece of land, no matter of what size, and neglects to have the same carefully re-surveyed, and a vellum map of the same attached to his deed, showing the length and bearing of all lines, the position of all land marks, and the names of adjoining owners, may find that he has purchased a good deal of anxiety and trouble. No surveyor is positively sure his work is right until he has checked it by plotting, yet innumerable conveyances are made without any plot whatever. We mention this fact because error is the rule and correctness the exception, and it is principally owing to the non-employment of competent parties to make surveys and conveyances. The money-saving faculties of some men tempt them to employ cheap assistance, and it is quite frequently the case that they convey more acres than they sell, and oftentimes with the buyer, that he gets less than he bargained for. As an invariable rule, take no deed or word for measurements or quantities, but employ a surveyor of known ability to run out the lines, estimate the quantities, furnish the diagram, and see that you get all the land you bought. there should be just as much attention paid to this as to the examination of the title; for, although no mis-statement is intended, all are liable to be mistaken, and quite likely to be ignorant of the transactions of former owners.
We shall have a good deal to say hereafter of the wretched manner in which valuable estates are surveyed and conveyed; but to return to our subject. IT you have been wise enough to have the boundary lines of your property resur-veyed at the time of purchase, from this survey an outline map can be made. There will then be required a topographical survey of the interior, the result of which should be carefully drawn to a scale within the outline, and in the same position as on the ground. This topographical map then becomes a plan on which the quite important subject of arrangement must be worked out. Presuming that new buildings be required, and that no ornamental landscape effects have heretofore been attempted, we will commence by locating the house; this is most properly done on the ground, and then plotted in the same position on the map. The entrance, approach road, and lawn, are next important, and should he managed in the same manner; then the barn and other outbuildings, after which will come other roads and walks; then the flower garden, kitchen garden, horticultural buildings, orchard, pasture, grass lands, etc., all of which, by careful examination of the ground with map in hand, should be as conveniently placed as our present knowledge will admit.
Having located all these leading accessories, which we shall class as useful or necessary, plot them all on the map in precisely the same position they occupy on the ground, and mark out the limits of vistas and views from the house and prominent points. Then comes the study, Is this combination harmonious? Is it the most useful and convenient 1 Can we not improve by changing the positions? Would not the barn be quite as accessible and little less prominent if placed differently? Would not the kitchen garden, which we go to several times a day, be better if placed where the orchard is, to which we go seldom? How shall we plant to shut out disagreeable features, work up our vistas, display our fine ornamental trees, etc.? All of which can be readily and thoroughly studied, and then marked out on the ground to be executed, in precisely the same manner as we study out on paper the combination of parlor, dining-room, reception-room, library, hall, etc., giving each its relative importance and convenience, and the command of certain views, the perfect realization of which is well understood.
But, says one, surveys and plans for landscape improvements are somewhat expensive. Then how much more so is landscape improvement blindly managed. A few dollars or a few strokes of the pencil will correct a plan, while a few hundred dollars will be required to correct a botch in real materials; or a few hundred dollars, wisely sad understandingly expended, will produce more art, beauty, and pleasure than as many thousands laid out without system. And herein lies the, disappointment in landscape embellishment. It is precisely the same disappointment that follows the progress of any pursuit, unless one qualifies himself to undertake it.