Our house on Google Earth

While I post many photos of our garden, both in the front and back, it may be difficult for those of you who haven’t visited us to figure out exactly what the layout of our property is. Fortunately, Google Earth provides satellite imagery that is extremely useful for this purpose. All of the images below were captured with Google Earth Pro (download for free from here if you don’t have it yet). All rights to these images remain with Google and the various image providers.


This image shows all of Davis, CA. The road bisecting the town is Interstate 80. Sacramento is 15 miles to the east (right), San Francisco 70 miles to the west (left). The red arrow indicates the approximate location of our house.


Moving in closer, you can see that we’re very close to the edge of town. The fields in the foreground are outside the city limits and in another county.


Moving in closer…


…and closer…


…and closer


At this level of magnification the image takes on a computer-generated look, especially the trees.


This is the most current image available on Google Earth. It predates March 2014 because the pittosporum hedge is still there (bottom).

Google Earth also offers historic imagery. This is a fun way to see what your property looked like in the past. For Davis, images before 2005 were too low-resolution to be useful. The first image below is from 2005.


2005: This is the original house we bought in 1997. The backyard (on the right) is in the shade, but you can clearly see the front lawn. At the 11:30 position you can see the purple plum in bloom (removed in September 2013) so this image must have been captured in early March.


2010: The first useful image I found that shows the house after the 2006 remodel. The front lawn is smaller now and bordered by a 4 ft. fence. Both inside and outside the fence are planting strips. The Bradford pear in the front yard (9:30 position) has been removed, but the ornamental pear (10:30 position) is still there. (Side note: Our neighbors across the street have removed the front lawn and replaced it with drought-tolerant plantings.)


2011: The greenery outside the front yard fence has grown. The Bradford pear has been replaced with a clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) outside the fence and two additional bamboos (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ and Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata) inside the fence. The backyard is virtually invisible because of the four bay trees planted along the property line.


2013: The bamboos in the front yard are much larger now.

Back to 2014. Here is the same image you saw above, but this time with callouts identifying the most prominent features of the landscaping. This should help you figure out where things are when I refer to them in my posts.


And finally a couple of flyover videos I created from Google Earth. Click “Watch on YouTube” for best results:



I hope that now you have a better idea of the lay of the land.

Check out your own house on Google Earth if you haven’t already. It’s fun!


  1. How fun to even see a little history of your house via Google Earth! Didn't know before that you had a house remodel. Technology never fails to amaze.

    1. Yes, we added a 2nd story in 2005/2006. It was major project. Just thinking about it makes me tired...

  2. Well that was fun! Now of course you've got me downloading Google Earth. I remember looking up earlier photos of our house and learning there were two trees planted where you (now) enter the patio. They were gone by the time we bought the place.

    1. I hope Google Earth served up some interesting historic images for you.

  3. Interesting to see your garden's layout and evolution What are those panels on your roof--photovoltaic or solar hot water? And you have a neighbor with a (literally) green roof?

    1. They're photovoltaic panels. We've been generating enough to cover our own electricity needs since 2006. I haven't done the math, but we've probably broken even on the initial investment by now. Zero energy costs going forward, other than the mandatory meter "rental" fee by PG&E.

      That green roof (metal) is something else, isn't it? Sticks out like sore thumb in these images. Not quite as noticeable from the street (the house is tucked away on a flag lot) but still very VERY green!

  4. Fun, including the fly-overs. And I thought I was the only person who looked at my (former) house on Google street and earth views! (and I've saved the different one's I've seen)

    The cartoonish look to the trees close-in must be resolution issues, combined with issues of privacy? (i.e. license plates or faces are often blurred)

    1. I love Google Earth. The amount of visual information available is staggering.

      I just realized that the way buildings and trees are displayed can be changed. I had the "3D" setting enabled. Without it, the computer game look is gone but the resolution is poorer.

  5. I skipped the flyovers because one quick look made my head spin. I can't watch the Bourne Identity hand-held sequels either ;)

    Isn't it great to be on a corner lot? Lots more planting space and less chance of neighbors objecting to trees, etc. I'm going to be referring to the chart with the call-outs in the future, a handy reference.

    1. Unfortunately, the flyover movie created by Google Earth isn't as much as I thought it would be.

      I love being on a corner lot. One fewer neighbor to contend with and more space, as you said.

  6. Fun stuff! The imagery of my house isn't great -- too low-res or too many trees.

    Bing's "bird's eye view" is nice too because you can see your property from different directions.


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