Landscaping software

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Big Lebowski, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. Big Lebowski

    Big Lebowski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    I posted a question about the ProLandscape Software by Drafix above in the sticky but I thought I should make the question a little more noticeable.

    For users of this software, would you recommend a novice to landscaping to use it? I am not a landscaper but I want to get into it. I even have one account talking about me doing some work for them in the spring. He asked that I come up with some ideas and he offered some of his own. I think having something tangible would look professional, show the vision and possibly upsell other ideas.

    So my question is, will a novice like me benefit from this software? I am convinced the job will pay for it so the money is not an issue. It looks like something I could benefit from but I have bought other types of non-landscaping software in the past and have found some to be clunky, difficult to use and a waste if money.

    Anybody have comments about this?
  2. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 591

    I like it and use it about twice a month for designs, but this software will not make you a designer. You have to know how to design a landscape prior to buying the software.

    I think you will benefit from this software as long as you look at it as a selling tool rather than something that will enable you to design.
  3. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    I would not recommend a novice to landscaping with no experience in design to purchase any type of "design" software. Design is an art form that tales knowledge,experience and sustainable practice to be worthwhile. Having a software program can make anything look alright and impress an unsuspecting client.

    Pursue an education in design and horticulture if you wish to be a design/build firm, or employ a landscape designer or architect. Many designers work on a project basis, they can assist you with drawings, imaging, plant selection, presentation and possibly project management. Stick to what you know and are good at and carefully gain the knowledge to expand your services.

    Any design software,including Pro Landscape takes time and effort to learn and reach a level of proficiency. The key to good design is not how pretty it looks on aper, but how well it fits the client, the property and it's sustainability. When you have mastered those techniques, software will be and asset to you and your business.

  4. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    I absolutely agree with you guys. I have been designing and installing landscapes for 15 years and I can tell you when I think about some of my first projects I cringe. My advice; if you really want to get into this industry, read everything you can get your hands on. KNOW YOUR PLANT MATERIAL. The biggest mistake most guys make is putting in incompatible plant material or not planning for it's mature size. Also most guys seem to just throw in whatever is on sale or common at the nursery even though it shouldn't be in their design. Also study hardscapes, all the different types and varieties so you know your options when thinking about what you would like to envision for the final product.
    There is a lot more I can say on this topic but in short:
    A. Read, Read ,Read and Read some more. When you know a lot about your craft not only will you have more ideas and confidence about proper design, but you will also outsell the other guys that are just there to make a buck and are winging it. Customers are not stupid, they can tell if you really know what you are talking about. Even if your price is higher they will generally buy from someone they feel more confident about.
    B. Start small and work your way up to bigger jobs. When I first started out I took a job that was way too much for me and it just about did me in. I tried to do everything myself which was a mistake since I didn't have the experience of contructing certain things. I had another landscaper help me with some natural stone walls and waterfalls after that. Now it wasn't that I couldn't stack some stone, but I didn't know much about drainage and retention. I also at the time did not have the experience to shape and cut the stone and stack in an artistic manner.
    Today there isn't anything in landscaping I don't do myself other than concrete flatwork. We have built natural stone walls over 18' high with stones that weigh over 3,000 lbs each and waterfalls that flow over 15,000 gallons per minute. All I am saying is learn everything you can about everything in landscaping. In time you will be at the top of the heap. You will make mistakes, everybody does, but learn from them and you will do just fine.
    sorry for the long rant.

    And one more piece of advice. Find a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Use unique plantings, different or new ways of hardscaping. You need to find something unique to you.
  5. Big Lebowski

    Big Lebowski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    I totally get what you guys are saying and I appreciate the replies.

    I have a big interest in design although I haven't really dabbled but a few small projects at home.

    The account that has interest in some design is frugal. He bought a flip property that he said he may keep 1-5 years. He is looking to "spruce it up". It is lower income housing but not the projects. It's a little step above, most folks have jobs & some have cars. So you can see where I'm heading here. Anyway, his suggestion was some picket fencing and some evergreens. Not much more than that. I suggested some flowering/blooming trees also. But ultimately he is interested in some ideas and asked that i come up with something. He assumed this was a proper transition for me and I didn't educate him on my lack of experience although i don't think he would care. I don't know of many other ways to present my ideas other than something like this. But I definitely don't want to buy it only to discover it's beyond me and I just wasted huge $.

    So as a first time out, maybe this doesn't even require software. But like i said, i feel it may pay for itself on this one run, allowing me to get better at using it and possibly up-sell some other properties etc.

    Obviously the types of jobs you guys are accustom to are over my head but I think this guy with his beer tastes might appreciate my beer experience and it might also give me a chance to see if I even like dabbling further and learning more. I have no doubt that I will not have any clue as to how long the job will take me going in and I may end up making less than the french fry guy at McD's per hour but the experience would be priceless. I'm also hoping that if he does sell, this will also keep me employed with the new owner.

    Well anyway, after getting a little more information, would you recommend it to me? Or not really...
  6. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    I don't think software should be your first move. If you just want an image to help you sell this job, find someone locally that can image it for you. Then you can print it out, email it or load it on a laptop to present your idea.

    Go with what Tim encouraged. know your plants. I will definitely add, understand the soils and get a good grasp on drainage. This sounds like a great job to get some experience on. Do it well, and you can be proud in the future, but you should always learn more.

  7. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    There are designers who will take your sketches and ideas and turn them into a presentable drawing to give to the client, and it's not a lot of money. If you go that route, they'll probably nudge you in the right direction on your designs, too. Just don't use one of the shops that sends everything to India.
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    There are three things in this situation that add up to one thing.
    1. a potential client who flips houses.
    2. low income housing.
    3. a client who approaches a novice for design and construction.
    = someone who wants something for nothing who wants to exploit someone to get it.

    A house flipper is all about cutting corners to extract profit in a short time. They will do everything that they can themselves, hire the cheapest guy to do what they can't, and talk about all the work they can get for you and how grateful you should be for such an opportunity.

    Low income housing needs to have its priorities in the right place which is not superficial aesthetics. Landscaping tends to be minimal to meet regulatory standards and no more. Landscape plans are often needed to gain permits to do other things on the site. It is pretty easy to get a freebie plan from someone expecting to get some work from making the plan.

    If the job is simple, you can agrre on what to do without a plan. If the job needs a plan because it is complicated to put together, why would someone put it in the hands of an amatuer? That would be stupid for someone who flips houses to do. Do you think this guy is stupid?

    Chances are that this guy needs a plan drawn to get permits, will do the work himself, and you will get nothing.
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    I agree with all of the above. AGLA is right on. Most of the time this kind of property is only going to merit refreshing the grass and a few plants. You definitely don't need a plan for this one. Just a can of spray paint and about 15 to 20 minutes of the guys time to explain what you have in mind. If he insists on a design you need to charge him a design fee of a minimum 85.00 per hour. If he gives you the job you can negotiate refunding all or a part of the fee. DO NOT GIVE ANYTHING AWAY FOR FREE. Once you do, this kind of guy will take everything he can get from you.
  10. Big Lebowski

    Big Lebowski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    I was replying to this topic when AGLA replied so I'll get to that in a sec. But here is what I wanted to say.

    OK. I was hoping you guys would tell me that this software would be awesome for me. I actually thought I would buy it anyway. But I went and read the sticky further and I now know for sure this is not for me. Is there something out there that is entry level that doesn't require a degree but instead uses cut and paste type designing? You know, a little more home owner type software that you professional guys would probably never touch? Let me know please...?

    AGLA, actually he never asked for any plans or drawings, just asked for some ideas. His only plan was to have me do it, and he had a few ideas of his own. So what he wants he gets. He did ask if I had some ideas of my own. Of course my first thought was landscaping software so I could further sell me and my ideas.

    To some guys this landscaping job would be peanuts, to others like myself, it just might turn out to be profitable to me in more ways than one.

    As for the property. It's an apartment complex, I may have undersold it a little as they are studious and one bedrooms that are all inclusive. Cheap housing, not necessary the poor house. Something I may have considered living in when I first got out on my own.

    As far as the owner, he is an investor from out of town. He has big city money and it spends much bigger here. This is not unusual for this area. Many NYC people come here, buy lake front properties for what seems like pennies to them. They buy businesses, apartment complexes, etc. My guess is he might be able to pick out a shovel out of a line up of other tools. So it's pretty unlikely he will be doing it himself.

    He bought the place on the down-slide and is now taking advantage of his cheap buy, by fixing it up, filling it with tenants and putting it back on the market. I see nothing malicious about that, unless you know him and I missed that part about him. But no, I don't think he's stupid. And neither am I. I can usually spot a sack of **** from a mile away.

    Firefly, Thanks for your reply also. I don't think there is a need for any actual design and it's becoming increasingly unlikely that there will be any. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought this would be a great opportunity to show the idea, and possibly up-sell the job further than his ideas might be. Imagine. He wants a white picket fence and some evergreens. I show him plans with some seasonal flowering trees and we both benefit. Then the next owner likes what he sees and discovers that I had something to do with why the grounds look so nice and he continues using me. He refers me, has me do his personal house and other properties. I use photos to get other jobs - on and on.

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