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Watching Grass Grow Just Got More Exciting
The Grass is Greener When Viewed in High-Resolution Aerial Imagery

By Tony Agresta, Nearmap



Among the newest tech tools is high-resolution aerial imagery, commonly known as aerial maps. This new approach extends beyond grainy, outdated satellite images, providing landscape architects with instant access to pristine, current views from all angles of properties - directly from their desktop or tablet.

By tapping into those crystal clear aerial captures, architects can reduce travel time and costly site visits, quickly estimate projects more accurately, observe historical data including leaf-off imagery and measure more precisely in mere seconds.

Cut Down Costly Site Visits
Traveling to and from potential construction sites to walk the property, take measurements and note obstacles can become pricey, especially when you are in the initial proposal phase of a project. It may be more cost-effective to assess current conditions using aerial maps online.

With high-resolution imagery, boasting the clarity of three pixels per inch, landscape architects are now able to effectively and accurately view the entire piece of property from the convenience of their computer. Users can pinpoint locations such as sewer lines and utility holes, determine the native vegetation, measure the height of trees, calculate square footage and even identify possible flooding patterns, all without spending hours traveling to, and measuring, the location.

Using crystal-clear aerial images of a residential or large city park project, landscape architects can not only quickly judge the scope of work, they can also beautifully illustrate those proposals by incorporating images either directly into their proposals or through geographic information system mapping tools.

Dig Up Historical Imagery With Ease
Unlike satellite imagery, which can be anywhere from one to three years old, high-resolution aerial imagery is captured at least twice a year. This means locations are photographed in different seasons -- leaf-off and leaf-on -- allowing landscape architects to view changes to a property or swath of land over time.

A particular park revitalization project, for example, can be studied over the previous three years with aerial photography indicating everything from trees that may be in need of additional care, to areas of the lawn that may need extra watering. Capturing shadows can affect the placement of flowerbeds that might require more direct sunlight versus a gazebo, which could benefit from some additional shading.

Harvest Precise Measurements in Seconds
One of the most difficult aspects of satellite imagery is trying to determine between hard and softscapes for a project. Yes, green grass is pretty easily identifiable, but it often becomes difficult to discern between the top of a shingled gazebo and a round trampoline. Extracting accurate measurements for a property, while not exactly knowing whether that circle is a permanent structure or a moveable object, can be frustrating.

Today's technology can have up to 2.8-inch ground sample distance aerial imagery, which can help landscape architects determine the difference between those backyard amenities. Surface materials can also be accurately identified, allowing measurements on how many square feet of gravel and mulch currently exist on a site. Even species of plants or trees can be discerned using these high-resolution captures.

At the grass root of landscape design, when it comes to saving precious time and work hours onsite, meeting and exceeding demands for quality bids, capturing historical growth patterns and accurately measuring with speed, landscape architects can now add high-resolution aerial imagery to their technology tool belt in order to help them get the job done.

As seen in LASN magazine, July 2018.

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August 19, 2019, 10:34 am PDT

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