Real Gardens

Google-mapping front-yard gardens

What did we DO before Google Maps and Mapquest?  I have only vague memories of trying to read folding maps while driving, a chore that's now almost unthinkable (good thing, too – drivers are way too busy texting and calling to fuss with maps).  But there's something I hadn't done until recently – checked Google's street view of my destination. 

Before heading off to a party over the July 4th weekend I did just that to case out the joint – was it an apartment building or a detached home where the party might be outdoors?  And here's what I found:

Easternave
They're gardeners!  Suddenly my interest in the party spiked; I could hardly wait to check out the back yard. 

Also upon arrival I learned that Google may warn that their addresses are approximate, but they got this one right – shown above on Google Maps and below in person, with holiday decorations.

IMG_2977

Now the last time I'd checked, Google Maps' street view of my own home was indeed approximate – and off by eight houses.  They'd also captured a male friend getting out of his car in my driveway, a detail that fortunately caused no marital discord for me but sure could for someone else.  (Privacy is something else I have only vague memories of.)

Woodland1

But this time Google got my address exactly right, and after toggling up a bit I could even see over the fence into the garden.  And the incriminating shot of my mystery visitor was gone.

What does Google's street view of YOUR address show?  The right house, your garden, evidence of an afternoon liaison?

Posted by on July 12, 2011 at 4:37 am, in the category Real Gardens.
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21 Responses to “Google-mapping front-yard gardens”

  1. commonweeder says:

    No garden, but Google Map captured my son working outside his new shop in Boston.

  2. K.B. says:

    For me, just the house. No garden, since there isn’t one – yet. Odd in an 82-year old house, but hey, life isn’t perfect :)

    Oddly enough, a roofer used Google Street View to tell me I didn’t need a new roof. Even more odd, I gave my business to someone else…

  3. One of the advantages of living in the country is that Google Street views hasn’t arrived here yet.

  4. Sadly, Google maps shows my front lawn being mulched with old carpets before I turned it into a garden. It’s the most horrid and embarassing thing ever! But, at least I can look back and contrast it with how good it looks now!
    Janice

  5. Google still shows last summer’s version of our house with the old owners’ too-big nandinas, so I’m hoping for an update soon — although it would be nice if they would let you know when they’re coming by, so you could go out and fluff things up.

    Also, we had our townhouse roof re-silvered in the spring at some cost, and I want to see it outshine the rest of the block. :-)

  6. The overhead view had to be taken in early April, 2006. The front view was taken in July, 2007 when I was half way through removing the grass from the front yard. Another icky view that needs to be updated.

  7. I use Google Maps and the awesome birdseye view on Bing Maps during my first phone call with potential new clients. It facilitates the discussion, but I have to be careful because I freaked out a sweet little old lady the first time I got the idea.

    We were chatting and I pulled up her street view and said “ok, so I see that tree – oh yeah, that’s a river birch, and that’s a great looking rhododendron.” I kept talking about the front of the house, and… dead silence. “Ma’am?”

    (whispering) “I’m standing at the front window. WHERE ARE YOU?”

  8. Susan says:

    I’m another one so far in the country that google maps only barely shows the area and there are no street views closer than 8 road miles away. Actually, there’d never be a street view because there’s no street near the house (a very long driveway at the end of the road). There are certain advantages to rural life

  9. emily says:

    I also live in the country with no Google street view. If there was one you would only be able to see my mailbox and some trees. Even the satellite view only shows blurry trees. Nice to still have a little privacy in this day and age.

  10. Laura Bell says:

    The Google aerial for my home is approaching ten years old, though I know there are several more recent versions (the agency I work for has paid for & used those more recent versions). Google shows my fruit trees & front yard trees as tiny (they are huge now)…and a neighbor peeping over the backyard fence ! Fortunately he’s no longer our neighbor, but it gives me the creeps in retrospect.

    I know Google sent their Streetview camera vehicle through our neighborhood several years ago because I saw it as I headed out for a walk with the kids. But there’s no Streetview available for my neighborhood. That’s sort of a blessing in my book. Despite my love for plants & gardening, my work schedule, the kids’ schedules, & my husband’s recalcitrant & penny-pinching ways conspire against me putting in the front garden of my dreams. What I have managed to replace or add is rambling, fungus-ridden, and appears to be untended. [SIGH] We all need a goal, right ?

  11. Michelle D says:

    Google shows a photo of my house taken on a sunny winter weekend afternoon in early 2008 when I was working on a stage set for the San Francisco Garden Show. The garage doors are wide open, there are pc.’s of stucco’ed styrofoam outdoors curing, saw horses on the driveway with sheets of plywood ready to be cut and a rather neglected garden. It looks like a mad scientist workshop exploded outdoors across my front driveway. Not very appealing.

  12. anne says:

    Kinda creeps me out when I think of all the many ways this technology can be misused and misinterpreted. It makes me sad. It just seems like yet another way we humans are distancing ourselves from having to interact with each other face to face.

  13. Google has no street view and the satellite view is blurry in the extreme. It could be any street anywhere, and probably anytime in the last 20 years, probably before I owned the house (ten years!), or established the garden or replaced the roof.

  14. tropaeolum says:

    The google aerial of my parents’ property was taken last year in May. I know because I can see my car in the driveway (I was home visiting) and the viburnum is blooming in the front yard and looks like a big snowball. The 75 foot tall cherry trees are still in the front yard (they’ve since been all taken down).

    No street view because mom and dad live on a private road. Thank goodness–I’m too often out gardening in my pajamas. No one needs to see that!

  15. S. Fox says:

    Street view is a dull winter day when renters were living here. The trash cans are out and the yard looks overgrown. I thought that was pretty bad until I read the other posts!

  16. Laura says:

    The Google folks must come down my street a lot because the house photo has changed three times over the last five years. The current one was taken within the last two years because I put cedar skirting under my front porch, and it’s there. Garbage cans are front and center, BUT the front bed looks pretty darned good, all things considered. I’ll show you my Google photo if you’ll show me yours…

  17. jeff z says:

    We’ve done a lot of work on our front yard, but our Google maps picture was from 2006, before we had done much of anything- and it was a fixer-upper house and yard when we bought it, so I always hesitated to tell people our address if I knew they were going to map it.

    Then I found out that the Google van had gone through our neighborhood again- and when I checked- they had caught my brother painting the house. Not with graffiti or anything- we paid him to paint the whole thing while we were out of town- but it still was kind of funny.

    http://eighthacrefarm.blogspot.com

  18. Happily, Google and Yahoo before it, don’t seem to get our info right, and I am that happy about it, for the misdirection.

    At one point, when my son was a toddler (I think that’s when it was), Yahoo had this thing about informing anybody who cared where you lived, on a street map, combined with what businesses, schools, churches, etc were near you.

    I thought, I have a small son I’d like to keep safe–why would I volunteer this info? Because only my two initials were in the phone listing, along with only the name of the town we lived in (a policy I have followed since I left college decades ago), they could only get an approximate–and erroneous!–idea of where we might live. I have been happy to let the inaccuracies and out-of-date info persevere.

    I haven’t checked the aerial view, but it was taken after last year’s plumbing debacle (the brick planter was removed), and if you only look at one side of the property, no-one is parked there, but there’s no photo of the other side, where there’s another driveway. My, but my rosemary hedge is getting tall in the center! I think it was after the first bloom of spring roses, too.

    Now, my sister’s place, for which we have an offer, has something bizarre in front of it, and it may be getting painted. Not terribly sure: must ask one of the neighbors.

  19. Li'l Ned says:

    Wow, I didn’t even know about this. Must investigate. Street view? Last time I checked for an aerial view of my house, I got a not very clear blobby photo with so many tree shadows you can’t even find the houses. That’s what comes of living in a forest. I do find it fascinating, yet also creepy, that my house might be visible to the world at large. Gotta go look.

    Come to think of it, I might have stumbled on something like this when I first got my smartypants phone last summer, but I have never been able to figure out what I did, or how to replicate it. Time to go back to the phone store and get a tutorial.

  20. Sarah says:

    For some reason Street View shows a road right through the parking lot of our garden centre. The camera car cruised by a few years ago, capturing the utilitarian part of our operation — but also my daughter taking our (then) puppy out back for a break. Both of them are bigger now, but it’s fun to check in to Google Street View and reminisce about the good old days before they both became teenagers!

  21. Marla says:

    I’m another person happy to live on a private road where the street-view cameras can’t come.

    The fact that Google can take pictures of our homes, peek over our fences, show overhead views of our private property really upsets me. Strangers should not have access to this information — it’s a virtual Peeping Tom who you can’t chase away.

    Too many opportunities for misuse of this information…

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