Using Computer Aided Design in Landscaping

CAD is a software system that is capable of transforming raw data into plans, drawings and models to enable effective planning and management.

Current use of CAD

  •  record keeping using topographical maps:
  •  assets such as drains, power, meters, etc can be valued
  •  areas and distances can be determined for planning and maintenance
  •  exact locations of all items can be recorded for future reference
  •  contour plans can be illustrated for drainage works
  •  earthworks of cut and fill can be made
  •  costs for soil volumes can be calculated for a range of variables (from different suppliers and different grades of raw products)
  •  3D models are created to illustrate the concept and to show interaction of light, shade, plant growth, future development
  •  CAD plans can be entered into software that automatically operate earthmoving machines that can level the site as specified on the plans
  •  Information can be transferred by email.


Data Collection

Like all software based on data, it must be collected and added and the options for this are:-

  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Aerial surveys
  • Total data station surveys
  • From government departments
  • By scanning or digitising original paper maps/plans
  • Manual surveys

Existing CAD systems

There are many different systems. The following software based on CAD are commonly used to convert data into useful information:

  • Landcadd
  • Landcadd OEM (Site Designer)
  • AutoCAD LT


CAD Software Features:

  •  A data base containing over 900 plants
  •  2-D ad 3-D symbols (of plants, furnishings, etc.) which can be inserted
  •  Ability to add to the plant and symbol list
  •  Freedom to substitute blocks, edit attributes globally along with special text fonts etc., based on the landscape industry
  •  Links to other graphics packages
  •  Commands to generate data maps
  •  Ability to combine information from one or more maps of interest
  •  Ability to create shadows cast by walls, plants etc.
  •  Choice of markers, arrows, symbols to improve readability of maps


Limitations of CAD in Landscape Design

Despite the obvious advantages of CAD; it's use for landscaping is limited. Many of the best garden designers will only used CAD for very limited applications. The fact is that when you come to drawing plants into a plan, the size and shape of any plant can vary considerably....being influenced by the things around it, as well as soil type, management methods and other things. Any one species of tree could grow in hundreds of different shapes, depending upon the situation it finds itself in. 

For a CAD program to properly deal with representing plants on a plan, it would need to offer a catalogue of perhaps over a million different graphic images to choose from. The fact is, most landscapers would find it easier to draw the plants freehand to represent what they have in their head.


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