Gardening & Time Travel with Google Earth

There's no one dafter than the previous owner of your property. Over the years we've found dodgy wiring, horrificly bodged plaster, and things plumbed in backwards.

We've started re-doing our garden recently. The hideous decking was quickly rotting away and needed removing. But what would we find under there?

Google's StreetView for the web lets you take a short trip back in time - if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of what your garden looked like over the year.
Row of photos going back a decade.
(That's a random house I found, not mine!)

But what about satellite images? Both Bing and Google provide an overhead view of your property. But they only show the most recent images.

There is a way to see previous satellite imagery though! Using the (appallingly named) Google Earth Pro Desktop app. It's available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Hidden away at the top is a magic little icon:

Icon with a tooltip which says "Show Historical Imagery".

Drag it around and you can go back in time - up to the 1940s in some cases.

Black and White aerial photos of London from 1945.

Now, the fidelity of the images isn't always brilliant but it's often enough to get a sense about what your area was like long ago.

Overhead photo from 2003 of a house.

And that's how we found out that the decking was covering a rather fine ornamental pond!

So I've spend the last few weekends excavating it. And cursing the previous owners for filling it with their concrete rubble, sweet wrappers, and broken bricks!

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