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Sketchup for landscape design.

By Robert Warnes.

Sketchup for Landscape design.

I have done quite some reading recently on established landscape design principles and conventions, but rarely have I come across anything detailing the specific method and workflow we employ as a company of designers to achieve our garden designs.

There will be many garden design purists out there who firmly believe that in order to effectively design it is essential to be able to put pencil to paper and physically draw the garden.

I disagree.

I am unfortunately not blessed with talent or skill to do this. I do feel however this obstacle can be overcome by using sketchup for landscape design.  A lack of drawing skill need not be a stumbling block for creativity and self expression through design. This is where Trimble SketchUp for landscape design comes into its own.

Landscape detailing of property using sketchup for landscape design by Warnes- McGarr & Co.
Landscape detailing of property using sketchup for landscape design by Warnes- McGarr & Co.

Sketchup for landscape design a poor alternative to other CAD software?

Although there will be users of other CAD programs out there who would deride SketchUp for landscape design and segregate it as an entry level player in the computer aided design world, I believe this to be a huge underestimation of the true power of the program.

SketchUp is, in it’s most absolute basic sense, 3d ‘surface modelling’ computer program. In this program lines can be drawn to create “edges”, edges are connected to create 2d “faces”, and faces are connected to create 3d “objects”. It differs from other CAD software for this very reason – design takes place in a 3D space -which can then be used to create 2D construction drawings through its sibling software Layout- rather than the conventional computer drafting workflow of 2D first, ask questions later!

This ‘3D space’ drafting makes the basics of the program extremely intuitive and easy to learn, meaning garden design ideas can be easily and quickly interpreted, and gives a high level of accuracy to even the most basic design concept. This speed and ease in getting started with the program often gives a false impression to existing CAD users that SketchUp is not intended for the serious designer, but is more geared towards hobbyists and occasional users. Whilst it is true that the software is accessible to the casual market through free versions available online, a true mastery and depth of knowledge can be achieved through intensive study and use of the professional program, resulting in beautiful, information rich 3-Dimensional models, giving way to intricately detailed, aesthetically impressive and instructive construction documents through Layout.

Landscape detailing of hotel grounds using sketchup for landscape design by Warnes- McGarr & Co.
Landscape detailing of hotel grounds using sketchup for landscape design by Warnes- McGarr & Co.

Sketchup for landscape design is intuitive and give more room for creative expression.

The intuitive nature of SketchUp for landscape design removes the barrier between creative thought and creative expression. It allows the user to quickly and effectively express ideas.

This 3D modelling method has a positive influence on what we can offer to our clients, as the model truly looks as it will when built. This gives a clear impression of the end product, especially when the images generated are run through dedicated ‘render engines’ to create a photo realistic effect.

Further to this, Trimble has released a free App for use on mobiles and tablets named Sketchup Viewer, of which we have taken full advantage by inviting our garden design clients to download the App, giving them the ability to explore the model in immersive 3D, through built in Virtual and Augmented Reality. find out more at https://www.sketchup.com/products/sketchup-viewer

Models are ‘built’ on the screen as they would be in reality, meaning every length of timber, every cubic centimetre of concrete and every piece of porcelain paving can be accurately quantified, costed and signed off before boots hit the ground, creating a seamless transition between design and build.

It’s truly a pleasure to sit down each day and face this software, creating products that I love in a virtual environment that is second to none. I even used Sketchup and Layout to create the seating plan for my own Wedding, now that is true love!

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