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Best buy for landscape software?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by daysel, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Matching software to your skills, available time and client needs should be of importance. Any software can make a design look good, even if it isn't. Imaging should not be used as a design tool, but it makes a great presentation tool for your client to understand your concept, once a p;an has been created. The addition of plant information can have as great an impact as imaging software, like Horticopia.

    As with any piece of landscape equipment, match it to your jobs. If you cut a bunch of your neighbors grass, a push Craftsman mower will do, but if seek a professional cut, you will upgrade to professional quality equipment. Good designs can be created with a pencil and graph paper, you don't need software to become a good designer. Software can help you if used properly. Any CAD based software for plans is merely a digital pencil. Allowing you to create plans with the aid of a computer. Most software companies have included extensive image libraries, multiple rendering modes and the ability to create scalable files to print on your own or email to clients. The learning curve with any CAD based software can take time and will be better suited if you invest in training. Will you be printing in house, that involves the expensive of a large format printer. Software will only be an asset if you take the time to learn and understand it and make good use of it.

    We have used Pro Landscape for many years and find it to be the best software for our purposes. With the plan mode you can create plans relatively easily, that can be printed or emailed to anyone. The graphics are excellent and the symbol library is extensive and growing. Drafix is constantly making improvements and adding new features.

    The imaging aspect has been a great presentation tool to offer clients an understanding of their projects like never before. Both planner and imaging offer true 3D flyover modes, that allow you to move around anywhere on your plans. With the true 3D. you are able to image from the street, but move around to the front door and look out to the street. You are also able to capture any of those images and print or email that view to yur clients.

    With Pro Landscape you also receive tremendous support, including training, unlimited access to their support team via email or by phone and they have even added a forum to their site to allow users to help each other and share ideas and information. I'm a big believer in service after the sale, and Pro Landscape sets the standard for service.

  2. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,201

    Yes I use this program. Everything that has been said about Pro Landscape can be done more easily with Landscaping Pro 3 www.ideaspectrum.com. I have been using it for a couple of years now and there is no other program around that can compare to it in its price range. You can design on top of a picture or from scratch, do detailed patio's, sidewalks, ponds, water falls and so on. It has one of the largest rock, brick and plant selections of any program out there as well. When your done laying out the landscaping, click on the 3D mode and view the house, landscaping from any angle. The 3D mode is a great selling point that customers love and when you enter the individual cost of items for the job it will print out a very detailed cost bid sheet for you customer along with the design, it will almost guarantee success in getting the job. There is NO other program out there that will do what this program does for the money its way better than programs costing several hundred dollars more.
  3. Casey21

    Casey21 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    I am going to try the www.ideaspectrum.com for photo design since Unilocks program does not work with Vista. I think for CAD design on should look into Dynascape for easy learning and a great quote software also. Also for help in your plant selection via there online search right from your design program.

    www.dynascape.com :)
  4. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 898

    how easy it to learn if you have no cad experience ?
  5. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,201

    It takes some time to learn but not nearly as long as some programs. Just take a few days and mess around with it and you will be designing like a pro. It does take some time to learn some of the more complex parts of the program but thats the case with any good program. This program does everything and more, whether your doing a basic landscape around a house or a large patio or retaining wall on a large hill. There is no other program out there that will do what this program will for the money.
  6. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 898

    now we sketch everything out by hand in 2d top view it would be great to help the home owner visualize what your design is, how easy is it to import photos of clients houses and do a design with it ? sorry for all the questions
    I seen prolandscape at the expo last yr. and talked w/ those guys for quite some time but could see putting that much into a program that might take me a while to learn. with this one 250.00 would be a whole lot easier to swallow than 1400.00
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    Great post by Dreams to Designs (yet another). Anytime someone is willing to tell you that there way might not necessarily be the best way for you, there is a good chance that they have a broader understanding than just from their own little world. That usually means that they have been around the block for a while. Kirk is one of those guys.

    One of the biggest mistakes guys coming into this industry is to gt caught up in a monkey-see-monkey-do mentality. If Jim has it, I have to have it. If it works for Jim, it will work for me. The next thing you know, you went from three guys running around with $40k worth of trucks and equipment grossing $100k and netting $20k, to three guys running $150k in equipment grossing grossing $250k and still netting $20k.

    It does not matter if it is a loader or software. You have to match your stuff up to what your market needs, what your skill sets are, and return on overhead.

    If you mow lawns and want to have some software to help out sharpening up a simple plan to sell a planting, stick with the box store stuff. It will get the point across without you needing to sell three jobs to pay for it and six jobs to be able to get past the learning curve.

    If you have been scratching out landscape designs on paper for a few years, you have a need in place.

    It is no different than figuring how many lawns you have and how big they are. That should tell you what type of mower you should have. But, some guys see Jim with his 72" ZTR and get wood. They drop $7k and can only use it on four jobs. Other guys try to do it all with their dad's 20" Murray. The smart guys match the hatch, just like Kirk is telling you to do with the software.
  8. oakhillslandscaping

    oakhillslandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 643

    google sketchup is free but if you have a laptop it takes up a lot of space, its better then CAD and easier to use at my landscape design school i got one year of CAD and then two years of sketch up, i would if you need something for designing i would not spend the money on the others and use google sketchup
  9. tcautaubo

    tcautaubo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    Does the proposal template look professional?
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    I used to have Eaglepoint Landcadd Landscape Design in an office that I worked in. After a while, I found that all of the built in dialog boxes for you to select your plant name and size to feed the materials take off database took a lot more time than simply printing the plan, counting symbols, and editing the schedule. I switched to Acad Lt and never dealt with it again.

    You can use MSWord, or WordPerfect, or even MS Works for your proposal. Either way (auto quantity take offs or counting), you have to input the information. One way you front load the input (trusting that you don't have extra items being counted) and the other you back load it.

    I really find that automated quantity takeoffs are more trouble than they are worth even on very involved plans. If you have an errant symbol somewhere it gets counted, if a block is exploded somehow, it does not get counted. I can't see how smaller design/build guys doing plans with 20-50 shrubs with a walkway and a patio place so much value on it.

    Another thing that I thought was going to be really good was the automated plant schedule (key). The problem was that all the symbols were the same size rather than the size that they are in the plan making them very difficult for the person looking at the plan to figure out. It does not take much time to paste in a schedule from another drawing and edit it, especially if you use the same symbols and draw them the same size for the plants that you use.

    Just something to think about.

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