Landscape Design forum: Landscape Design Software

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RyanJ
Jul 19, 2010 6:32 PM CST
Greetings,

This is my first post, so hello to everyone. I'm happy to have found this community. I was wondering if anyone can recommend a design program. There seem to be several out there and I was unsure which one to purchase.

Thanks,

Ryan
Name: Red
Knoxville, TN
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knoxred
Jul 20, 2010 8:10 AM CST
Good morning Ryan, and welcome! I've sorely neglected this forum while my kids are home from school for the summer, and I need to start writing again. Thanks for the much needed nudge.

The software question is probably one of the most popular questions that comes up in landscape forums, because the demand for good software is high, but the available products have not generally met the mark so far. There are many people on this software quest with you. I don't know if you're a designer looking to automate the process, or a hobbyist looking for design assistance, so I'll try to answer the best I can.

I draft all my drawings by hand, using pencil on gridded FADE-OUT vellum. With FADE-OUT, you can have a blueprint shop print the finished drawings for you and the blue grid will "disappear" from the page. A pro design shop will generally use some type of CAD/ AutoCAD software, but it's way out of the budget for occasional hobby users. I spent quite a bit of time a few years back trying to find affordable software to produce drawings cleaner and faster, but each program had drawbacks.

For instance, many programs have difficulty drawing organic shapes and curves. You'll spend a lot of time fighting to get your design represented properly on the screen, and the temptation will be to change your design* to fit the software's capabilities. Another struggle is the very limited, often inaccurate plant libraries. If you're looking to put in a camellia and the only broadleaf evergreen shrub in the library is a holly, you're going to get frustrated in a hurry. Try putting in a 6 ft. 'Feelin' Blue' deodar cedar and finding out the library only has the straight species with an eventual height around 150ft. Grrr! The libraries have improved a lot, but they still aren't good enough.

*Notice I said your design here. Software won't design for you. You still need to do all the thinking and planning required for good design and then find a way to work it into the capabilities of the software . The software simply gives you a crisp, smudge-free, highly reproducible drawing at the end, which is really nice to have, hence the ongoing search for a good software program.
[Last edited by knoxred - Jul 11, 2011 5:11 PM (+)]
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jadesigns
Aug 12, 2014 1:00 PM CST
While this question was asked a long time ago, we are always looking for a good software program to help make designing easier. I have used a program called GreenScapes for the past year and have to admit, it was easier than I thought to learn, and has helped me close more jobs faster because of how fast I can put together the picture with the client right there beside me.
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
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Henhouse
Sep 1, 2014 1:23 AM CST
I use a free 3D program called Sketch up through google. It's pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.. There are limitations, but it's FREE Big Grin It's so much easier for people to visualize in 3D, rather than a one dimensional plan..
Here are a couple of views of a conceptual plan for a small back yard.

Thumb of 2014-09-01/Henhouse/4df2f4

Thumb of 2014-09-01/Henhouse/d642e9

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Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Sep 1, 2014 7:34 AM CST
That's nice, Sherry, will go look up the software. Thumbs up
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http://debra96.wix.com/green-amber-gardens
Name: Sam aka 'Rosie'
Post Oaks of Colorado Co. (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas
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WRRanch
Sep 5, 2014 11:56 AM CST
I've use a few over the years & am currently using one called 'Realtime Landscaping Architect', although it is somewhat pricey.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 27, 2014 7:26 AM CST
Thanks for posting, Sherry -- I've heard of "Sketch-up" but have never tried it out at all... looks like a good winter project for me! Thumbs up
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
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NEILMUIR1
Nov 29, 2014 11:42 AM CST
I have worked for one of the best Garden Designers in the UK. Also I researched and restored a Gertrude Jekyll garden, plus Chelsea flower show. If in this country you were to give a client a computer designed and printed design you would be laughed at. It must be done by hand and in our case watercolours are used.
The trouble is too many people use some software that shows them plants and what to grow. It does not work, you must know about Horticulture and the science of it, before you should use anything like that!
I had one boss who had a degree in Egyptology, who thought he could design. He was wrong, knowing about Egypt is one thing, knowing about plants and what the client wants is another.
Doing a seven year apprenticeship wher I did everything from hard landscaping to soft landscaping and everything in between that is the way I learnt!
What about pH of soils? I have seen so many expensive projects go sadly wrong. The wrong plants from a computer have been used. You must know your plants , soils, location, weather and look around the area. You will soon see what is growing and what does not. How many designers look at the native plants, as they soon tell you, what will survive and what will not!
So many designers around here, have no idea at all.
Regards from a cold England.
Neil.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Nov 29, 2014 9:38 PM CST
Neil, you are so right -- there are just so many variables... experience is absolutely the best teacher! Smiling

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