How design software can make the install process go smoothly

November 2, 2020 -  By
Person using design software (Photo: Doug Nemeckay)

Get the picture? Landscape designers often lean on design software that helps clients visualize what the final concept will look like. (Photo: Doug Nemeckay)

Landscape designers have tools they use to bring their designs to life, including something as simple as a pencil up to highly sophisticated software. There are many design software products out there, and Landscape Management spoke with Mark Barker, vice president of design and sales at H&M Landscaping in Newbury, Ohio, and David Toda, design/build project manager in Landscape Workshop’s Lexington, Ky., location, to find out how software makes their design-to-install process go more smoothly and allow them to deliver for their clients.


Clients want their finished projects to meet their expectations and align with the design they’ve understood and agreed upon with their landscape designer and contractor, Barker says. So, it’s important that a company’s software helps create a design that clients can visualize.

“It comes down to simply how you’re able to show the customer your concept and get them to understand it,” Barker says. “Because once they understand it, they become comfortable with the project, and that’s where you get the emotional side, where they really like it.”

H&M Landscaping has $17 million in revenue and provides 60 percent landscape construction, 20 percent maintenance and 20 percent snow removal to a 60 percent commercial and 40 percent residential client base. Depending on the designer, the H&M design team uses Pro Contractor Studio or Dynascape landscape design software.

Barker says the ability of design programs to import reference images and then create a plant book for the project is a useful tool.

“When we go to present that design to clients, I actually have all the pictures right then and there ready to show,” he says. “It’s a nice touch.”


Toda says design software also helps communication between the design staff and the installation staff at Landscape Workshop. When the designer provides a scaled drawing that’s clean, organized and well labeled, it makes the install staff’s job easier, he says.

Landscape Workshop is a $43 million firm headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., specializing in maintenance, lawn care, design/build and irrigation for 90 percent commercial clients. The company’s design/build division is based in Lexington, Ky.

The company uses AutoCAD through Land F/X software. “(The software) allows us to bridge the gap between designer and contractor and create a finished product that’s clean and easy to read for the installation team, but also, we can create very accurate takeoffs quickly,” he explains.


“In our traditional design/build format, all our design drawings start out in pen and pencil,” Toda says. “(Our design software) allows us to take those sketches and hand renderings and put them into a program that allows us to very quickly and easily create plant schedules and plant lists.”

Overall, Toda says that designing with software goes a long way toward providing a professional and clean end result and gives the contractor a sense of credibility with a client.

He relies on software in particular to help design and organize large-scale jobs, as was the case on a recent project where Landscape Workshop designed a planting plan for a golf course community with several thousand trees.

The software allowed him to break down the golf course hole by hole and create a plant schedule for each hole.

“Doing a job that has that many moving pieces, it’s very helpful to have a single source or a program that can do a plant count that large and can help you keep that organized,” he says. “It’s very easy to lose things or become unorganized very quickly, but if you’re using the tools the way they’re meant to be used, it really helps that organizational process.”

Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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