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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just going to go ahead and ask. Any of you guys like @hort101 or @Mitty87 using any kind of design software?

I hand drew up some sketches yesterday while doing an estimate and was showing them to my wife and brother (business parter brother) and he made the comment we should look into design software. And I don't disagree, but sheeeeeeesh it's expensive. Not that we mind spending money if it makes us money, but that kind of expense is right up there with advertising. You only use it to get work, so as long as it lands more jobs, it's worth the cost. Anyway, what I had drawn was for "internal use only" and not intended for the customer, but it got me wondering how you guys that have been at it longer do it. Maybe you are just well known enough, and have a large enough of a portfolio that you don't need to try and give the customer and idea of what it will look like finished. In my area, basically no one does Hardscapes, and I'm having trouble getting people to get a visual in their mind of what it would look like done.

If you do use software, what brand? Do you draw it yourself of have an employee who does it for you? Do you hire it done? If so, with who? Any info is helpful at this point. Looked at Revit by Autodesk. I'm somewhat familiar with Autodesk products. I have played in their fab design program (for like manufacturing and mechanical engineering).
 

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Thanks for thinking of me as a landscape designer @AGLA is one of the real ones on here

But I'm more maintenance and repair or replace plants
I have spent too much time fixing and removing dead or dieing plants from bad practices and planning

There's many different ways and techniques for hardscape and the methods and materials vary by region but as quality control before I had to determine what was best way and also what the manufacturers recommended so I have a little knowledge

Also have seen what's worked short term and long term on the properties I've been on

As for design if I was looking I'd get something simple and that you can quickly sketch up a idea there was one on here that wasn't super realistic but was faster and easier then say CAD

Then if customer is serious a formal drawing and contract I'd want
 

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Have you checked out real-time landscaping architect? I would think that鈥檚 a good starter program, and it has (used to) belgard and uni lock products pre loaded.
Also, when doing design on a pc, it鈥檚 important to have a good GPU because the software counts on it.
It鈥檚 not something you load up into a stock ibm
 

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I have talked to designers who do detailed plans - one is charging like $3-5k minimum and I did a $2500 job for one of her clients (3k design lol). Big thing to consider, always ask for max budget before doing designs. I forgot on the latest one and she spent 600 on her rough draft and it was way out of her price range. I would sometimes have people bring me plans that they had probably spent a few thousand dollars on and had no idea or intention of spending the 50-100k for what the designer came up with. It's a big waste of clients money and honestly irresponsible to let someone spend thousands on a design if the budget isn't realistic.

now that almost all jobs are over 10k and over 100k sometimes we are pushing more designs but most of the time we would do jobs without one.

we do hand drawn plans and charge $80/hr, for a 25-50k project the design cost usually ends up being like 500-1000. I advise clients that you don鈥檛 always need to spend so much of your budget on designs.

but we are definitely looking into spending money on software, maybe $1000 or something and see if we can get something to make alterations easier. I do like the look of hand drawn though and some people are really skilled at it. Like Lewis landscapes - Jim Lewis, on his website, that鈥檚 the type of design I prefer
 

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I鈥檝e been hand drawing them, I鈥檝e looked at software but hardscape isn鈥檛 the core of my business and seems like the learning curve is pretty steep. I鈥檝e researched them several times in the off-season and it鈥檚 pretty overwhelming honestly. I just haven鈥檛 had the time or need to dedicate to the software. I was chatting up my local supplier about options also, he said he knew of a couple designers who had retired and would do designs renderings for landscapers as freelancers. I just never had the right job to utilize them. Might be worth calling around about though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks guys. Makes me feel better that a lot of you still do hand drawn. I was sketching a job this week and got to wondering if doing so made me unprofessional, but it sounds like a lot of people still do it. I checked out Lewis Landscape and his drawings. Funny I have zero prior experience in doing this and my sketches include both a layout (top) view, and a second one that is a picture (front?) view. When I get the rendering I鈥檓 working on done I鈥檒l post a picture for critique. Probably be a few more days.
 

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Ive been using Realtime Architect for 2 years, it was a bit overwhelming at first but once you learn the basics its not bad at all. It has an integrated "plan", "perspective" and a 3d walkthrough that you can send clients that really helps sell the job. It was on the cheaper end as well, 1 time payment of around 400 I believe. I'd like to start using Sketchup, if I get some downtime this winter I may purchase it to learn before the spring rush.
 

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I use ProLanscape. Dynascape is better and cost a lot more. Below is some of what I can do withProLanscape. Besides the plants you can change the door, hardscaping, siding etc.
Plant Window Building Sky Tree

Plant Flower Property Building Window

Plant Building Window Flower Sky
 

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As far as the best, I don't know but saw this and it has to be close to the best and was previously posted on lawnsite by Papercutter, who I have not seen on here lately. I think he subbed this video out to another business.
 
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