How to Find Property Lines in the Woods

By Caprice Castano

In certain situations it becomes necessary to find your property's boundary lines. Boundary lines must be marked clearly if you plan to sell, are building an addition or have a large piece of property you want to divide. If part of your property rests in a wooded area the task becomes more difficult. Original survey pins or landmarks may not be visible and running a clear line through brush is difficult. It is not easy, but it is possible to accomplish this task on your own if your job doesn't require a professional survey.

Check with your local assessor's office. Find out the name of your developer or whether any recent property surveys were done for adjacent properties. If any surveys have been done, the pins may still be in place or at least a description of the property line can be tracked. The assessor's office will know the last time your property line was officially surveyed and who performed the survey.

Request a copy of the map of the last property survey from the assessor's or register's office. You can usually view these for free at the office and take a copy of the map with you for a small fee. The map may not give you an exact location of the physical line but it will be a good guide to assist you.

Locate any monuments or landmarks that may have been used to mark the property line. Existing markers are helpful, such as short iron pipes, wooden stakes, brass discs or a metal tag attached to a concrete marker, an old fence or anything that may have been used to locate the property line in the past. This can be like a treasure hunt, and may not be successful, but it is worth a try if a marker is in place.

Find known property markers not located in the woods and measure into the wooded area from there. Examples are engraved marks or stamps on the sidewalk or curb at the front of the property. If you know one property point, measure from there. If the brush is not thick you can place a line of flags along your presumed property line and then look for a marker or monument at the point you believe is the wooded boundary. If one is not there, try intersecting two known property lines and mark the spot.

Measure the line with a straight-line tool if you do find a marker or monument. A laser pointer or sight set on a high surface like a step ladder and pointed at a white sheet of paper on a post above your marker will help give you a visual to follow for marking if your property line is straight. This may not work if a large number of trees or brush block the sighting.

Clear brush away from the area if you have located your property marker and want to use a chain or line measure or can't get a good reading from a laser marker. Be very sure you are at the right location and your neighbors know what you are doing so as not to cause any difficulty in clearing the area. If you are unsure and may be clearing on adjacent property, it is best to abort this part of the plan and call in a professional.