Design Software

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by 94gt331, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. 94gt331

    94gt331 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,718

    Hey guys I think as my landscaping buisness gets better each year. I think it's time for me to get some landscape design software for my new landscape installs. I think this will help me out in making higher profits on my work. I would like an easy to use software that has a photoshop tool where i can take pictures of houses and design there landscapes in the photo. Price is important but will pay for better software. I'm sure I can search but want to see what everyone uses first. Please send your advice and comments.
  2. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Ok, I'm going to walk you back through a couple of things right off the bat. First, I think you're using profits and sales interchangeably, which is always bad. I could see you telling us that improving your presentations may help you close more sales, but I'm not seeing a direct link to "making higher profits."

    Second, you don't design their landscapes in the photo. If you do that you're asking for trouble because you can't possibly be accurate. Design in plan view and use the photo manipulation software to show what it might end up looking like.

    Personally I hate these types of programs. Even in the hands of someone really good the end result is pretty cheesy looking, and they're really only practical for a single bed. The more you zoom out the easier it is to get your perspective all wonky and you don't really get a true idea of what it's going to look like. So at that point, you've used an image of something that can't actually be built to get them to sign. So what do you do when they're standing in the yard looking from your picture to what they're seeing, and they say "this looks nothing like what we were shown. We're not paying"?

    I don't know, obviously you need to do what's right for your business. I just think that any decent salesperson can sell the level of project these programs are best for ($2-5k plantings) with a plan sketch.
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    I 100% agree with the above quote. If it helps you sell, great. It works well to show a small vignet, but knot to design a landscape.
  4. 94gt331

    94gt331 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,718

    So do you disagree with design software. Alot of local companies use design software and do pretty well with it. I personally do my design sketch on paper but I'm not the best artist. I also spray paint bed lines and set plants up for customers before work, that works pretty well. I see alot of local guys software design work and it's impressive just thinkin it might help me also.
  5. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,221

    Design software results are limited by the software itself and the ability of the user to learn how to utilize all of its features. As Papercutter says, I have also seen some cheezy presentations done with fairly expensive software. I have also seen some truly amazing renderings done by computer design experts using Sketch-up.
    Still it comes down to the fact that the created presentation is no more than an approximation of the actual finished project. As long as the customer is aware of this, proficient use of design software can be a plus in a sales presentation.
  6. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    I'm just trying to get you to think about your design and sales process and what you really hope to get out of this tool. Because at the end of the day it's just a tool, nothing more. Your creativity is what is going to make that image look good, and your sales skills are what will close the deal at the price you need to be profitable.

    Is your goal to close more sales? Is it to move to a higher average install price? How will this software do that for you and is it the best use of your resources?

    If you're a younger guy and you feel like because of your age, clients aren't taking your design skills seriously and don't feel confident signing, this may be an opportunity for closing more sales. Otherwise, I'd say to make sure you're presenting yourself as a rockstar of design, back it up with a great portfolio, and save the money.
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    My comment is very specific to the image editing software rather than other softwares. As said by others, these are tools. I do all my design work using software - mostly Autocad. It is a method of drafting rather than a program that designs.

    Image editing is also just an altered image. There are no limits to alterring an image, but there are huge limits on turning those altered images into reality .... just join one of those online dating services and compare the photo to your date, if you doubt me.

    We see it all of the time in these forums where someone goes nuts dressing up a picture of a house on a flat lot that is 20' from the road. By the time they are done there are multi-levelled terraces and 40' of planting that absolutely looks like it fits in the picture. The danger is that some of the 'designers' fool themselves more than the clients. However, if you design something to scale and then manipulate a picture to show how it may look to a client who has trouble visualizing things, it is a good use of the software.

    I don't do it often, but is a freeby half ass photoshop type program that works well by stealing plants and other parts of one image and pasting them into another on separate layers. You don't have great rotation or skewing, but you can get by. I like it better than pasting in cartoon plants.
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I'm probably going to be flamed, but here we go.

    At least in our area, the auto-cad or blueprint style of design is going by the way-side, at least in the residential market.

    It's pricey, and most customers don't want to pay for it. On top of it, it doesn't visually give the perspective to a customer of what the potential final product will be.

    Now, I strictly do image designs, but can do an auto-cad/blueprint style design. The problem is that no one has asked for one.

    I do want to add that I'm not trying to discount designers using cad designs as there is still a market for it. And there will always be those situations where a cad design must be drawn up in certain situations such as architectural design purposes and also where cities and municipalities need to have a cad design on file.

    What the image rendering has done for my biz is sell the jobs to the customer. On top of it, I can make changes extremely quickly (especially now I have the ability to do them on an ipad), saving the customer money and to finalize the landscape plan faster, thus boosting production to some degree.

    My customers have also either been charged for a cad/blueprint design and still wasn't happy with the results. There is also the ones that have met with multiple landscapers that weren't able to convey exactly what they had to offer, so they passed on their services. I was able to step in, do a quick rendering, and sell the job quickly.

    It does also take a few years of practice to make sure you know all your plants well and what they will look like in the end. Along with taking detailed measurements of the property, taking the correct photos with the proper angles and views, and knowing your spacial relationships, you can get about 90% exact or better in your image designs.

    So, with all that said, I've recently upgraded my software to Landscape Pro version 18 and can't be happier. It's taken the "cheesiness" out of my image designs with the newer features, along with taking a fraction of the time to do them.

    Pro also comes with auto-cad side to the program and also a 3D feature, which I'm hoping to utilize. Along with all that, it has a companion for the ipad and is extremely useful.

    Pricey..... extremely, but I couldn't be happier with that purchase.

    And again, I fully respect all designers whether or not they do cad or image designs. Especially the ones on this site.

    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  9. jbell36

    jbell36 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from KANSAS
    Messages: 1,405

    i think it's pretty black and white when it comes to selling the customer with a program like these...visuals are the best also really helps when you have a few ideas and want to see what each will look like, or at least get the idea of what it will look also helps customers visualize if they are the kind of person who simply can't see what it will look like after and if it is worth the money to do so...i agree the end result isn't always what the rendering software shows, but you just have to get good at the program, it will also take some time to learn all the plants...

    i would go with Pro Landscape
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  10. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776


    And this is what I tell my customers, " This is what I would do, but I don't have to live with it everyday, you do". So ultimately the image design software allows me to try my ideas, and if they don't like it, I can tweak them until they do.

    In the end I don't feel like I'm imposing my landscaping will onto my customers.


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