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Garden Design Software 2D to 3D; 3D to 2D

Hi All,

I'm new to your forum here, but not new to gardening. Been growing plants for 45 years and gardening professionally since 1996.

I'm making the transition from basing the business on garden maintenance to basing it on garden design.

I've tried Sketchup, and concluded it is too construction based for me. Landmark Vectorworks is waaaay out of my league. So after some rummaging aroung I recently bought Realtime Landscaping Pro 2018 for £100. I found it to be very useable, although not sure of its absolute value....

So I'm winging it a bit, learning new things and working at the same time. What I'm realising at this moment in the proceedings is that a software that can switch from a plan view black and white line drawing, to a 3D colour view, and vice versa, would be extremely useful, saving me entering the plan date twice. The Realtime Landscaping Pro doesn't seem to do a good job of this (unless I just haven't discovered it yet?). I found it to be really good, for the price, at giving colour 3D renderings, but at the moment for me in the reality of planning and planting, a plan view black and white line drawing is best, so at present I am re-entering the data into a Shoot browser garden planner (I paid for a year of it, so I might just as well use it!)

I've bought myself a Microsoft Surface Pro and pen, so I can now input the site data straight into any instslled software onsite, and hopefully that will be the actual start of the plan, rather than what Irecently did - drawing it out on a sketchpad then transferring the data into the software.

Any recommendations?

Thank you!!! (~8

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  • Not sure what you mean about sketchup. Sketchup would do what you want - you would need to use groups and layers (switching on and off) as part of the drawing process though. Plenty of You Tube tutorials.

    Limited for planting plans though. 

    Also for printing of plans via Layout you would need the Pro version 

    I believe Sketchup is now subscription/monthly paid so not expensive, especially as an expense to the business.

  • PS

    As an after thought. If your 3D views are simple then Sketchup would allow one click switching of plan to 3D using the VIEWS toolbar (access from VIEW>TOOLBARS>VIEWS).

    • Thanks Mike.

      The thing about Sketchup is it seemed to be too broad based for what I need. I need something focussed on the garden itself, more so than such a broad based designing tool. The word is that it is fundamentally a tool for the construction industry, and/but its fingers reach out into gardens. To use it I would have to import so many models of plants and do so much fiddling about.

      Yes, It's about £300 per year.

      I just need something which is purpose made for garden design.


  • I did all of my design work from about 2013 on Sketchup. Have a look at some of my models on here (if they are still there in 'my photos') or on Trimble 3D warehouse (Google 3D warehouse and search for Mike Bradley or Mike Bradley Garden Design).

    Big problems do, however, occur if you want to visualise a lot of trees/plants (especially 3D versions) in models as they really use computing power and slow up modelling.

    No problem if Sketchup is not your bag but if your current software doesn't do what you want it may be worth a second try - even on the Sketcchip free version (if still available).




    • I might have just kind of stumbled upon something that will be quite adequate for me at this stage. It's almost identical to the Shoot Gardening browser designer but it's downloadable. It's called Garden Planner by Small Blue Printer, and they have brought in a 3D function - Bingo! It's only £37 and looks like it's got enough functionality for what I need actually there on the ground.....

      So, I'm giving it a go.......


  • Looks interesting. Useful for plant lists too.

    Software has moved on a bit since I started I think.

    As long as it works for you, 

    Good luck for your design future. Mike

    • Mike, the Shoot browser version has a humongous plant list to draw from. This may be good for someone. But honestly, the Garden Planner version is kind of mre useful for me, becaue I can add to the plant my own name or description. Like Clematis, Group 2, blue. And in this way it is more encompassing, I don't always need an exact variety, but as long as it fits the parameters I need, it will do the job. And it automatically includes this in the planting list (unless I tell it not to).

  • PRO

    Hi Karsten, I’m a garden designer and I use SketchUp, it’s really a good tool for the job (although I hanker after Vectorworks). You can switch between views really easily, especially if you set up ‘scenes’ in the model, which is very simple to do.  Sketchup can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be.  I do also use it for planting plans, I can name a component (a 2d plant graphic in this instance) as the plant name and so then can produce a report which gives me the quantities etc.  

    • Yes Nicola, who wouldn't hanker after Vectorworks ((~8
      When you say a 2D plant graphic, do you mean 2D in plan view? This Garden Planner, I'm discovering, is relatively simple, but really seems to go right to the limits of its simplicity. What I like about it is the consistency of the graphics, unlike Realtime Landscaping Pro, everything in it is in the "cartoon" format, so it is at least a cohesive vision. And the 3D view is all 3D, there's no weird-looking 2D-in-3D images that "follow you around" as you move through the garden! That's why at this stage I like it more than RLP ^. It is still a bit glitchy, the company says it is still being developed and ask for feedback.

      • PRO

        Hi Karsten, yes I meant a 2D graphic in plan view, saved as a  component so I can generate a report to get the right quantities.  I know what you mean about the 2D face-me graphics, they are an irritation and move around from where you’ve placed them which drives me nuts.  As others have said when working with the plants in 3D the model becomes very large very quickly.  I would think as you are designing now, you will need the construction elements soon enough.    I will have a look at the software you’re using, sounds interesting and sketchup isn’t ideal for the planting side of things.  I disliked shoot when I tried it, not enough control or accuracy for my needs.  it was last year when I trialled it so it will have moved on, I know they are constantly developing, but you couldn’t work properly to scale and for me that’s a definite no no.  That said, the plant database is the business. 

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