Landscape Design Software Suggestions

by Tom
(Manchester vt)

Hi, been in the business for 30 years, I still love the warmth of hand drawings, what if any landscape design software do you think best keeps the look of hand drafting and design? What do you use if I may ask? Thanks


Tom

ANSWER

Hi Tom,

Years ago I did hand drawings and like you, was afraid that if I switched, the drawings would not be the same. But I took the plunge and the positives of using landscape design software far out way those of hand drawings, in my opinion.

It's so ironic that you should post this question at this time. I just put up a new page on best landscape design software.

The reason I wrote this page was because I was recently searching for new software. I spent a lot of time exploring different programs and thought I would share this information.

If you do nice hand drawings, you can certainly create nice computerized drawings too. It's a mix of the software and what you do with it. For example, selecting software that has nice plant symbols and/or 3D symbols, along with how you put them together takes some thought and creativity. It can be done.

I think a question you might ask also is which software will work best for me from a feature and cost standpoint.

There is not "best landscape design software". It is a matter of choosing one that has the best features for your business and how you like to present your designs.

My own needs might be different than yours. I do some 3D design along with 2D drawings and I was looking for something that would integrate and be a time saver, as my 3D designs currently take a lot of time.

For many years, up until now, I was using Eaglepoint. This is an add on to either AutoCad or Bricscad (cheaper). I found the software Land FX which works on top of Acad or Bricscad too. It's a much better program than Eaglepoint LandCadd. It has better symbols and more automatic features for a landscape designer. So I will most likely make the switch. One of the best things about it is that it integrates with Sketchup, which is what I was looking for. As an aside, I've seen drawings done in this landscape design software that is beautiful.

Take a look at my page above on the best landscape design software. All the programs have free trials.

Some of the software (mostly the 2D with automatic 3D options not including Land FX) do not have user friendly plant labeling and do not automatically create plant schedules, so that is a negative. However, the 2D/3D option is intriguing and that may be more important to you.

If you know what features you might like or closely replicates what you do now, let me know and perhaps I can advise you further.

Susan

Comments for Landscape Design Software Suggestions

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Jun 13, 2011
Software
by: Tom

Thank you Susan ..............you too......very nice work, thanks again for you insights!

Cheers!

Jun 13, 2011
software continued
by: Susan

Tom,
I visited your website. Your work is beautiful. I especially love the large stone slabs you use for patios, your other stonework and your boulders and perennials.

Nice work!

Good luck in your software search, and if I can be of any help, just let me know.

Jun 13, 2011
Software
by: Tom

Thanks so much for your thoughts and taking the time, your points are all valid and notable, it's the old dog syndrome but hey this winter sounds perfect!! I had an architect friend compare it to taking a train or flying a jet fighter..............guess that says it all right? Great job with your web site Susan, I see a lot of time and dedication to your craft. http://www.homesteadlandscaping.com/portfolio.html. Just a bit of my work is here Susan ........ vt is an incredibly great geographic area to work........ very non suburban and organic.
Keep up the great work!!!!!!!

Cheers!

Tom

Jun 12, 2011
Professional Landscape Design Software
by: Susan

Hi Tom,
I have two friends who are landscape designers and they really like using Dynascape, but yes, it's very pricey. The 2D drawings on my website were done with Eaglepoint. It served me well for many years but I feel it is not keeping up with the times.

I do use Sketchup Pro; with this version you can import AutoCad drawings into Sketchup. You also get another module called Layout. If I am remembering correctly, those are the two main features of the Pro version, so if you ever wanted to play with it, you would just need to download the free version. I have no assistants, although once or twice I did subcontract out some parts when I was very busy. I have purchased some other SU libraries, but it's not necessary. You can work in both 2D and 3D in Sketchup, but the 3D is really the feature. I use a PC.

The learning curve for any landscape design software varies. I would say you would become familiar with any software in about a week or two and really comfortable with it in about a month or two. The best thing to do is download a free trial from the one you like the most and do a simple design with it, even if it takes awhile.

For 3D, I do like Sketchup. I believe Land FX will work for me. It has features that a landscape designer would want and then there is the Sketchup integration...but even without that I feel it's a good program. You can get deals on the pricing, btw. So that, together with the free Sketchup and Bricscad would not be too bad financially. Or just Bricscad and Land FX. Any decent software is going to cost money, but it's an investment.

Does the 3D pay? It seems more and more professionals are offering this....not all, but many. If you can offer this to your clients, or the ones who are interested, you are in a position to say yes, you can do that, rather than no. And of course they make great presentations in a portfolio. However, I feel if you are used to labeling plants on your drawings and creating plant lists, you need some good 2D software that will do this. Sketchup does not do it easily. If you only need 2D now, start with that.

Perhaps your work doesn't need to be compatible with engineering firms, etc., but isn't it nice to have that option? You never know what will come your way. I am told that you can import Acad drawings into Dynascape. However, I tried it many years ago and could not get it to work. Neither of the friends I mentioned have done it either, so I am not so sure of the ease of that.

In a nutshell, probably Dynascape or a Bricscad and Land FX would be the best for you. (Cost is another matter!) I found that many of the others are more geared towards landscape contractors, rather than landscape designers. And I found Vectorworks to have a steep learning curve.


Jun 12, 2011
software
by: Tom

Susan,

I must say that I like the looks of Dynascape with regards to the feel, looks most like a hand done drawings........but I hear ya its $$$$ for what you get! I thought I could tell that you used Eaglepoint (is that whats is on your web site) it is very discernible for sure. Do you use sketchup pro for your 3D drawings...it looks very time consuming truly, do you have assistants......I hope! the one thing about hand drawings is that I can do them so fast, I worry about the learning curve and my patience this has kept me from taking the plunge, how long was the curve for you? I love technology and want to do it but don't want to make the wrong choices. So Susan you sound pretty sure about landfx and sketchup and are the best choice for you? I have not done many 3D drawings other then isometric drawings by hand and yes time consuming, it looks fun but does it pay? I think I would like to be able to do them but typically 2D or plan view is sufficient, having options is great and having them all layer and be compatible is really great. Any advice on learning sketchup, and do you buy other symbol libraries? Landfx is not cheap either Susan and looks over armed for landscape design work that doesn't need to be compatible with engineering or architectural firms, are there less involved programs that look good? Can you do landscape plans on google sketchup 2D? do you use a Mac or PC I use both!
Thanks for your time and insights Susan.

Tom H

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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