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View Full Version : Best computer software for landscape design/hardscaping?


Lisk
10-11-2005, 05:00 PM
Just wanted to get some feedback on what some other companies are using that works well for them? Thanks....

cgland
10-11-2005, 11:03 PM
We use the Designware Suite www.designware.com for some of our softscaping designs and we use the EP Henry Design Imaging software www.ephenry.com for the hardscaping end of it.

Chris

UNISCAPER
10-12-2005, 09:07 AM
It depends directly on how how much time you will be spending using it, thus learning to use it, and if your market even calls for it's use.

Time is the biggest factor. All software takes focus off something else that needs attention in your operation. Do you have that time to invest?

Dreams To Designs
10-12-2005, 04:06 PM
I have to agree with Bill. There is a lot of time, equipment and money involved with software design, but that is the majority of my business along with consulting. You may want to consider outsourcing the digital design work. I use Prolandscape http://www.prolandscape.com/ for most of the design work, EP Henry software for some specific hardscape jobs and Horticopia http://horticopia.com/ for a plant encyclopedia and presentation tool.

Kirk

Lisk
10-12-2005, 08:39 PM
It depends directly on how how much time you will be spending using it, thus learning to use it, and if your market even calls for it's use.

Time is the biggest factor. All software takes focus off something else that needs attention in your operation. Do you have that time to invest?

Honestly....no, not much time on my hands however, i thought i give either prolandscape or dynascape a shot...just b/c im very meticulous w/ my design work....Come to think of it i probably should just sub it out b/c times a ticking and im busy enough taking care of other things.....what do you think?

AGLA
10-13-2005, 07:01 AM
It comes down to what you need to do. If you have a specific need that is not being met, or has room for improvement and there is something out there that can get it done it makes sense. But, too many times people seem to be asking this question without having defined their need. It seems as though they want software with the hope of discovering what it can do and it will help them.

No one asks "what do you want to do with it?". Everyone just assumes that whoever is asking wants to use it the same way that the person answering does. Does he want billing software, routing software, point of sale software, cad, photoimaging, word processing, spreadsheet, database, .........

Dreams To Designs
10-13-2005, 08:16 AM
Lisk, as AGLA has stated, what are your needs? If you want a tool for presentation or to help sell, then 3D imaging may be the answer. If you feel your drawing skills are not what you'd like, then the 2D planning features would suit you. If you expect the software to help you design, you have been mislead by their titles. "Design" software is simply a digital pencil or a drafting tool. The designs come from your experience, knowledge and abilities. If you need design assistance. Work with designers or take some classes at Cumberland County College or better yet Rutgers in New Brunswick. Every winter Rutgers offers professional education short classes in all facets of landscaping and turf.

We are practically neighbors, so if you would like to talk about this further, get in touch with me. I would be happy to spend time with you to help you in any way I can.

Kirk
http://www.dreamstodesigns.com/

PurpHaze
10-13-2005, 08:41 AM
If you expect the software to help you design, you have been mislead by their titles. "Design" software is simply a digital pencil or a drafting tool. The designs come from your experience, knowledge and abilities.

Kirk

How very true! Unless you have the "dirt time" you cannot expect to take your ideas and put them to CAD. Anyone with some computers skills can put lines on a piece of paper but knowing what those designs equate to out in the field are another thing.

DVS Hardscaper
10-13-2005, 08:55 AM
I have to disagree with Bill.

And I agree with Kirk.

Design software WILL speed things up. No two ways about it. Learning curve? Absolutely. But even your new DVD player has a learning curve. thats life.

I am confident NO one here puts together a design and sells THAT design WITHOUT doing revisions. In terms of residential, I bet I have to revise 85% of the designs. Clients add stuff, or they relocate things, and so on.

With software, making revisions is a breeze. there is no way you can make revisions as efficiently with hand drawing. Just no way. And that my friends, is worth its weight in gold. I am talking plot plans. not imaging.

Its almost a must for hardscapes. A good design program will give you square footages and linear footages with the click of a mouse, vs. counting squares on grid paper.

I use PlanScape. Its very simple and easy to use. Nothing to it.

I personally am not a big fan of imaging. And yes, I have 2 imaging programs. It was great in our earlier years, but now I think a nice portfolio of nice jobs do the trick.

one problem with imaging is it is not to scale. Many scapers use the proposed image as a LANDSCAPE PLAN. A true plan is to scale for legal purposes.

jus my 2 cents!

Lisk
10-13-2005, 12:59 PM
Lisk, as AGLA has stated, what are your needs? If you want a tool for presentation or to help sell, then 3D imaging may be the answer. If you feel your drawing skills are not what you'd like, then the 2D planning features would suit you. If you expect the software to help you design, you have been mislead by their titles. "Design" software is simply a digital pencil or a drafting tool. The designs come from your experience, knowledge and abilities. If you need design assistance. Work with designers or take some classes at Cumberland County College or better yet Rutgers in New Brunswick. Every winter Rutgers offers professional education short classes in all facets of landscaping and turf.

We are practically neighbors, so if you would like to talk about this further, get in touch with me. I would be happy to spend time with you to help you in any way I can.

Kirk
http://www.dreamstodesigns.com/

Kirk,

Appreciate your feedback. As far as everything i think imaging would be my best solution. I like the idea you can show your clients possibly what there houses would look like when completed, is an amazing tool. As far as drawing, my skills are pretty good however, there is always room for improvement and i like the idea "DVS" stated before where its alot quicker to modify plot plans on the computer b/c customers always tend to switch things around. After all, i didn't expect the program to do the acual work for me, i know what i want exactly but if i can take the pic and show the client a "before" and "after" pic of the possibilities of there home....pretty much seals the deal....once again thanks for all of your feeback.....

P.S. Kirk, i was looking at your website and i noticed Greg Freni's name in a couple of pics, are you affiliated w/ him somehow?? Just wondering...in the 2 years that i attended Camden County Technical off Berlin/ Cross Keys Rd. he was one of my hardscaping teachers...great guy....

Steve

Dreams To Designs
10-13-2005, 04:19 PM
Steve,

Greg and I are good friends and have worked together often. Sorry to hear you went through the torture of votech's adult education. I attended many of the classes that he taught as an "assistant". Drop me an email or give me a call.

Modifying the plot plans is a nice feature, but the software for 2D isn't easy. It takes a while to learn and longer to master. It will be one of this winter's projects if it slows down. I thought that would be a great feature also, but don't use it much as my concept plans get very little rearranging. The before and after is just an idea, never a true image of what the outcome will look like. It gives the client the feel of what the completed or installed design will look like. It is a great presentation and selling tool, not very accurate for designs.

Kirk

UNISCAPER
10-13-2005, 08:36 PM
Software rarely ever speeds anything up. At best, you break even with time, at more expense, and at the loss of focus on far more important things during the early stages of business. Unless of course you have a dedicated sales person or designer on board. As the business grows, and your needs change, and you have the time to dedicate to redirect your focus, that is the point where software makes sense. From the aspect of being able to save, and change, or pull out from a previous job file years before, it makes perfect sense. Admittedly, I am more anti technology than about anyone, simply because I have the capability of doing alot of things, correctly, the way it was done before all this software hit the markets with all of the false promises made by their manufacturers.

Then there is the market in which you work. Starting out in the tracts, we could very easily get by with spraying lines on dirt and having at it. Or a very simple black line drawing that took 20 minutes worked well. Estates on the other hand, require alot more. So, what are your clients demands? If you can absolutley get away with less, less is always more.

Having said that, there have been alot of great points of view in this thread, and we are currently yuppifying our office with autocad, with a 48" plasma screen, a full color plotter, and a very high powered computer.

Summing it up, I would first ask what you need or want the software to do for you. Along with that need, you must have the time or make the time to be able to use your new tools (software), and use it regularly. Or you must have a person on board with your team who will dedicate themsevles to running the stuff. If you don't have the time, or have someone who has the time, software is the last thing I would be looking at to save time. Save your time from labor reducing machines, perfecting working systems, and nail your operations down to the last second. Who knows, get all that dialed in and the time you need to use the software will appear. About 90% of those got to have programs end up collecting dust on shelves until the company that made them no longer support them, thus, the need to buy yet more "time and money" saving software.

There's nothing wrong with buying technology to help you, as long as you use it to help you and it does not sit dormant. So I would make this a slow choice. I took 5 years before deciding to move on the stuff.

DVS Hardscaper
10-13-2005, 09:22 PM
I dont think anyone said software would speed anything up.

It streamlines operations.

you can work on a plan and not have to carry papers, rulers, and pencils around. its all stored in your laptop.

Someone decides that wanna add or mod a fee things, a few clicks and your deletions are done. thus alleviating (sp) one from having to start a hand drawing all over again.

Usually the navigation is rather simple. Gotta remember we're landscapers. Landscapers are not usually known for being the brightest computer geeks. Which means the programs are made so that even a lawn jockey can use it :)

If you do many designs, design software is a must. A busy designer without software is like a painter without a ladder. But if you ony do a few designs or outsourse to an architect....then software may not be the way to go.

UNISCAPER
10-13-2005, 09:53 PM
"I dont think anyone said software would speed anything up.

It streamlines operations. "


Typically, the reason one streamlines is to speed things up. And, the promise that all softwares were sold to the public originally, was that it would speed things up. Heck with all the free time promised us by the sopftware companies, we should all be able to take 23 week a year vacations with pay.

The time saving is true of large corporations, but not in a small landscape company unless you are going to store then make revisions and such. If you pump out a design, sell it, and move along, software won't save you.

Very true, you can store things in your laptop, only to have it lost, stolen ,sat on, or crumbed up with dirt, or have a program decide to fart the battle hymn of the republic, thus holding your entire operation hostage until you pay some overpaid geek large monies to unlock you. All this time you sit twiddling your thimbs while your crews are standing around making $33.00 per hour rubbing the skin off their gooses necks.

When you mention a busy designer being like a painter without paint, you entered into the other side of the consideration. Having that designer. They take the time to design so the owner can manage their operations. Few have the time to design with software, and run the show. All I was trying to establish is where the original poster was comming from. If they are a person wearing a bunch of hats, software saves you little, or gains you even less, and it probably will cost more than it makes.

If your market demands it, you have to get it. If you can get away without it, keep away from it. Grow into it. Don't jump at it and expect it to work well for you. Those are usually the companies who buy it, use it a few times, then let it collect dust until the product is no longer supported.

Weigh all the options first. It did not work for us for the last 3 years. nor did it work well when we had the employees and time to run it. But then, I carry a slide rule to my estimates, I aced advanced calculous, which is instrumental in calculating what things cost, and usually can tell you my numbers on a prject from my head before most people can find a calculator. And what we would have bought 3 years ago would be outdated by now when we will be using it. That's all I'm saying make a wise choice, and if you really think you need it, weigh all the factors before asking what to use.... Nothing wrong with softwares, if you can or will or can pay someone to use them to their fullest capacity.

PurpHaze
10-14-2005, 08:52 AM
Someone decides that wanna add or mod a fee things, a few clicks and your deletions are done. thus alleviating (sp) one from having to start a hand drawing all over again.

In a word: as-builts. :D

DVS Hardscaper
10-14-2005, 11:36 AM
"Very true, you can store things in your laptop, only to have it lost, stolen ,sat on, or crumbed up with dirt, or have a program decide to fart the battle hymn of the republic, thus holding your entire operation hostage until you pay some overpaid geek large monies to unlock you. All this time you sit twiddling your thimbs while your crews are standing around making $33.00 per hour rubbing the skin off their gooses necks."

I'm reminded of old men. Old men can never grasp the concepts of innovation and new ideas. they have done things for the last 58 yrs and can't for the life of them understand why something innovative can be advantageous!

As far as computers being stolen, couple of things:

1. I doubt most people would carry a laptop EVERYWHERE they go.
2. Its hard for them to get dirty when they have a briefcase that they are stored in.
3. Most owners do not get dirty, so our hands are clean. And for when our hands are dirty, we wash them using the soap we carry in our trucks for such events :)
4. If a laptop is in a car or truck, most responsible owners will lock the doors and keep windows up. As well as throw a jacket over the carrying case. I'm not sure about other parts of the US, but where I am that is all thats needed in most cases.
5. A computer locking up. If one has the skills to use a design program, they probably have the skills to unlock a computer! It used to be that if you had computer skills you was the MAN. But now-a-days, most folks are able to handle most computer glitches. Windows 98 is notorious for locking up. Windows XP is quite flawless for the most part.


I'm not sure why a stolen lap top would halt a crew. The crew does not lay a finger on administrations stuff! they get a print out of the design!



But I am certain that a stolen cut off saw will play havoc with productivity :)



I really am not debating anything. We have an architect that does all his designs by hand. And we have another that does his designs via a computer.

My only point is if one has not ample experience with either, then how can make all these opinionated responses?

AUHort1990
10-14-2005, 11:45 AM
I use Dynascape. It's a huge learning curve but I like the software. It's strictly 2d.