Design Software and Hardware

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by LazyWeekends, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. LazyWeekends

    LazyWeekends LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    I have been looking into purchasing design software but before pulling the trigger, I wanted to make sure I had everything covered. I have purchased a laptop but what do I need in the way of a printer. If I am going to be creating all these masterpieces with the software, I am going to need to print it out. I guess the standard size is 26" x 36"? Or will a design presented on A4 paper will be acceptable? Any thoughts?
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    It depends on what you are doing, who you are doing it for, and how big in area the plans are.

    What you are doing: Plans vs. photoimaging, full property plans vs. gardens or individual areas. Photoimages don't need to be bigger than 8.5"x11". Plans for entire properties are obviously going to take more paper than segments of the property where a garden or hardscape is going. Plans of perennial gardens have lots of small pieces and lots of labeling which means a bigger scale than a layout plan for a patio.

    Who are you doing it for: are you going to do the construction, or is it to be built by others? If you are building it, it is less important to have lots of notes and fine detail. This effects shhet size of your plans.

    How big in area are the plans to cover?: Surveyors and engineers often do site plans at 1"=20' and 1"=30' in many cases. That is a bit small for a landscape plan that is showing individual shrubs and layout notes. A typical landscape plan is done at 1"= 10' or 1"=8'. A lot between one and two acres usually fits on a 24"x36" plan at a 1"=10' scale.

    I have been designing landscapes using HP Designjet 500 printers in the 24" width for several years. While I have had properties that did not fit entirely on one page at a 10 scale, I have always gotten by. The HP 500 is a great machine for a lot of reasons (good color, easy to load, great printheads and ink cartridges). The 24" model runs about $2,500.

    I recently purchased an old HP Designjet 1633 36" B&W printer on Ebay for my home office at $150. I know a little about these, so it was not a big risk for me. If you go used, don't go older than a designjet 750 or 650. You should be able to get one for about $1,000 with shipping. Look at your state society of architects web site to see if they have a classified section, if you are going used.

    Check out Hewlett Packard's web site to see what might match up to your needs (
  3. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    LW, it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Is the laptop you purchased powerful and fast enough to run CAD based software? Will you be using the software for 3D imaging?

    Small designs, perhaps a garden, a bed or a border may be ok on small paper, 8.5" x 11", but complete landscape designs should be created on larger paper. Many of the designs need only 18" x 24" paper, while larger or more elaborate designs may require 24" x 36". If you invest in a large format printer with a 24" capacity, like an HP Designjet 110 plus,
    You will be able to do most of your printing in house. This series also does 8.5" x 11" and 11" x 17" nicely also in color. You can always email your designs to a printer service like Kinkos or burn it to a disc and bring it to them. Many private printing services can also handle large format printing. Being able to do the printing in your studio is a huge advantage, but after a laptop and professional software, the printer may have to wait to recover the other costs.

    You may also wish to invest in training for whichever software you invest in. The training will make your investment much more usable, efficient and reduce the time taken on the learning curve. You will also be able to better understand the abilities of the software as well as the things it can not do for you. Hopefully you are aware that none of the software packages out there are really design software, but digital drawing aids and presentation tools. Which software have you decided to purchase?

  4. LazyWeekends

    LazyWeekends LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    Thanks for your input guys. I am considering ProLandscape software and the laptop I have will be able to handle the CAD. I do understand that the software will not design for me. I want to add a degree of professionalism to my work and believe the software will help. I am tired of sketching my designs and if the software can enhance my presentations then I will be satisfied. I design and install all my own work so this should be a good tool.
    Seems like I will need to hold off on a bigger printer for the moment and work with what I have and perhaps occasionally use a print service.

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