Design software

Hand2January 24, 2013

I have been researching landscape design software and have come to the conclusion that I have to buy much more than I need to get the features I desire like 2D options, labeling, plant listing and raw materials calculator. Drawing by hand has worked very well for me over the past 5 yrs, but I want to 'ramp up' my service to meet the expectations of young clientele and be competitive. Realtime Landscape Architect seems to give the most bang for the buck on a budget but I regret that everything must be self taught and the plant database is limited for Texas. Additionally, the 'cartoonish' appearance of some the design options and 'walk through' options with birds singing and water falling are really a turn off for me personally.

I work primarily with suburban residential clients and would welcome any feedback from those who have adapted to design software successfully on a smaller budget. Pros? Cons? Was it worth it? Did your clients respond more favorably to one style of design over the other?

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I guess my question would be, is your current approach costing you jobs?

I use AutoCAD LT. It's not cheap (I paid around $700) and the learning curve sucks, but I'm very quick with it, it doesn't try to do too much of the thinking for me, I can share files with architects and engineers, and revisions are a snap compared to redrawing all the basemap info.

That said, unless it's a tiny job or I'm pressed for time, I go through at the end and hand draw and hand render on the CAD plan. That little bit of "human-ness" helps close the sale, because it resonates more emotionally. I think that even if they're not aware of it consciously, some buyers look at a CAD plan and assume we hit the "design" button to get there.

So, my firm uses CAD, and I insist that any new hires learn it and use it. But your mileage may vary, etc.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:50AM
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