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Design software: To the drawing board

February 7, 2020 -  By
Landscape design plan (Photo: Di Stefano Landscaping)

Photo: di Stefano Landscaping

With the rise of design software, fewer people are designing landscapes by hand.

Nowadays, designers turn to their computers or tablets as often as they turn to the actual drawing board to complete design projects for clients.

LM asked a few designers from across the country to tell us what their favorite design software is and why.

Tara Verotsky

Landscape design and sales
DeSantis Landscapes • Portland, Ore.

“For those who have been hand drafters and want an easy-to-learn software, I would recommend Pro Landscape by Drafix Software.

Pro Landscape has basic tools to institute your landscape designs online. You can consolidate the plant palette to suit your needs, and it beats erasing and redrawing when you have revisions.

For more professional landscape design, AutoCAD is the universal, industry standard software. It’s proficient and has the ability to interface with architectural drawings.

I started using Pro Landscape when I took a position doing small-scale designs for a local Portland nursery, Al’s Garden Center. It was design on the fly for homeowners who wanted ideas to take with them through the nursery to influence their plant purchases.

AutoCAD is what is offered at most universities that teach landscape architecture. This software has been around since the mid-’80s and has managed to evolve with the progression of technology. With a large range of professionals using this software, there is a lot of money available to improve it.”

David Burton

Landscape design and sales
di Stefano Landscaping • Jericho, Vt.

Vectorworks with Landmark is the design software that I have been using since 2005. I was first introduced to this software when I was working for Doerler Landscapes in Yardville, N.J. I used this software because in comparison to others on the market, the presentation graphics were more attractive and gave a hand-rendered appearance.

As I learned the software’s capabilities, we started to see how it could be used to generate planting schedules and takeoff worksheets to aid in estimating and providing planting lists for proposals.

It is a very robust tool, and I imagine I only use a fraction of what it is actually capable of. I find it helpful to produce accurate drawings that are easy to revise and can provide lots of useful information. Over the years, the developers have made some great strides to make the 3D presentations photo realistic. Some of my easiest and largest sales have been backed with 3D rendering that communicated the design intent and really helped the client envision themselves enjoying the space.

The software is not the easiest to pick up and definitely takes some effort to learn. Vectorworks has classes available that I took, which helped get me up and running. The learning curve is high, but the payoff, if a designer will stick with it, is significant.”

Josh Robinson

Design and sales manager
Todd’s Services • Hamburg, Mich.

“We use two types of software, but it depends on the type of print we’re doing. For 75 percent of them, it would be Realtime Landscaping Pro. It is simple to use compared to others. It has fast rendering times, and it’s easier to teach others.

We found it by talking to people in the industry. What interested me was the efficiencies that it would give us while maintaining good quality 3D imaging. Those efficiencies would be the fast rendering, the shorter training cycle and faster 3D creation.

The other software that we use is AutoCAD with Google SketchUp. If we have a print that is highly technical, then we have to go to AutoCAD.

No matter what you’re using, it’s important to always keep your options open and see what’s new and coming so you stay on the cutting edge of technology.”

Clara Richter

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