How to Use a Compass to Find Your Property Lines

Compass readings set the direction from one property corner to another.

Locate property lines, using the property's legal description, as noted on the deed. This is particularly useful if no noticeable property boundary, such as a fence or stone wall, is present. Avoid the expense of commissioning a professional surveyor by finding the property lines on your own. Remedy encroachments on your property and avoid future disputes after ascertaining the property lines.


Step 1

Find the local difference between true north and magnetic north (known as declination). This information can be gleaned by calling a local surveyor or project forester.

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Step 2

Locate a beginning point corner mentioned in your deed description. The simplest beginning points to use are frequently (though not always) marked by items such as boulders, wooden pegs or tree trunks.


Step 3

Position your body in the direction of the next corner, using the compass as your guide. Add or subtract the declination noted in step 1.


Step 4

Walk the deed described length to the next corner. Use the measuring tape to measure the proper length.

Step 5

Continue this process until all remaining corners have been located.


Discuss the discovered property lines with your neighbors before marking them. This helps avoid future disputes.

Things You'll Need

  • Deed description

  • Compass

  • Measuring tape

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