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To CAD or not to CAD

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by tonyGub, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. tonyGub

    tonyGub LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Just curious if others use a CAD program. I bought one and I am trying to learn it but wow this is complicated. I would like to integrate my drawings with the landscape plans if possible.
  2. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

  3. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,186

    Yep, I design everything and do my as builts in Design CAD.
  4. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 524

    I use auto cad light version on a lot of stuff... It is basically the same thing, just not quite as robust. The command line interface is a fairly valuable tool to use as opposed to constantly trying to use the actual tools for everything. You are correct it does have a steep learning curve, but if you are simply doing layovers (lighting, irrigation, hardscapes) over previous done landscape by a professional designer, it is actually quite simple after a few weeks and a few online tutorials.

    For the most part I used it for irrigation, but just recently have been using it to incorporate lights because it defines everything so well for a customer without the old "yea, im thinking about putting a light here, here and here" pointing technique. The best part is, generally you are simply using straight or curved lines for lighting and irrigation with a few symbols for fixtures, transformers, valve boxes, heads, etc...

    I would highly recommend it as I have found three major advantages...

    1) Looks ultra professional to bring a plot plan out to the job and have it cleanly presented to a customer.

    2) You can virtually replace the need to show your guys every step of the way if they are a bit green, teach them to read a simple plot plan and life is much easier.

    3) It basically acts as a customer agreement, you get them to sign off on a plot plan and you have piece of mind immediately that "hey, both the customer and I are on the same page" because the proof is on the paper.
  5. bmwsmity

    bmwsmity LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Ohio
    Messages: 276

    I've been thinking about this recently, as I currently do all my drafts by hand. One question I've had is what kind of printer do you need to print these out and how much do they run?? How much is a basic CAD program for simple irrigation/lighting designs?

    Thanks for the input.
  6. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 524

    BMW, you don't "absolutely" have to use a different printer. Obviously if you can afford it a plotter is a great investment and much easier to read since the layout is large. Plotter's run anywhere from about $400.00 to infinity...I use a fairly good hp black and white plotter and it cost me about $700.00 5 years ago...Im sure you can get it less now.

    If now isn't a good time for a plotter, you can generally still use your base 8 x 11 printer, you would just set it up in print preferences of your prog.

    Unfortunately the money is usually in the software, im not ultrafamiliar with all of them, but I use auto cad light and it cost about $800.00...For landscaping Eagle Point is VERY good in combination with some form of Cad, but once again this can be a 3000.00 investment and is not worthwhile unless you are using it for a bunch of plants, hatching, etc.
  7. bmwsmity

    bmwsmity LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Ohio
    Messages: 276

    greenlight...thanks so much for the info!
  8. LightYourNight

    LightYourNight LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    what is the difference between the eagle point software and a landscape cad design program like drafix's pro landscape?
  9. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 524

    No problem BMW, good luck with your purchases and hope they work out for ya...

    LightYourNight - I can't speak for Drafix, but I did look at their website and that is impressive software and probably a bit more user friendly. As for Eagle Point, it is extremely elaborate and probably complete overkill if you are not a serious landscape designer (which im not, I just so happen to have the software based on some previous work with another company.) It's not a super powered 3d base application, there are better choices. On the flipside, it's more of a professional wizard. IT has a giant plant database that breaks everything down into climate zones and growth patterns and even has grown pattern coverage rates for every plant based on length of time. It has every plant symbol imaginable and even makes suggestions for planting zones and what not. It also has the software brain (drafix probably does too) where lets say you have a 12X20 area that needs to have a groundcover, you simply enter in the gallon size or cup size of the ground cover and it hatches the plan and tells you exactly how many of each individual plant you need...It has many bells and whistles, but like I said, it is COMPLETE OVERKILL if you are dedicated to irrigation, lighting, etc. It's definitely angled towards landscape installation.
  10. LightYourNight

    LightYourNight LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    Thanks greenlight. I use Drafix... its ok. What software is everyone else using?

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