Garden design software

Garden design software ranges from applications that are free to programs costing thousands of dollars. If you are looking for simple but powerful garden design software, give gCADPlus (aka GardenCAD Plus) a trial. Here are two examples of typical garden design drawings created using gCADPlus.

YouTube movie A quick look at a typical landscape design from the USA (Imperial) environment. We discuss zoom, pan, switching to layout, model space, adjusting a view of the design, and more.

We have developed a tool that we have called a sustainability calculator that encourages designers to check a finished design against several features that demonstrate sustainability focus for the design. The image below shows a design on the right and the landscape sustainability calculator in action on the left.

YouTube movie We take a design for the rear of a house in Holland and apply the gCADPlus sustainability calculator to improve the design.

Sustainability – some thoughts from Ross Uebergang –

Sustainability in the landscape is necessary. We live in a world of finite resources and ration those resources as much as possible.

  • Reflect: If I want a deck, do you really need one this size? How often will I have 80 people on my deck? Could I go without, or could I use a substitute?
  • Reduce: Can I set my areas up to use less energy?
  • Refuse: If what is proposed is a bad idea say no. You may not need it or there may be a suitable substitute.
  • Reuse: In the rebuild, is this material really at the end of its useable life? Can I find another use for it? Can I find someone else who has a use for it?
  • Recycle: Can this material be processed to have a new life? This is the next alternative to reusing. Can I use a recycled product instead?
Tips for gardeners

Mulch and Compost – Go to a local landscape supplies center and use their courtesy trailer or get it delivered. The mulch will mean less watering, better soil structure, and healthier plants while limiting the number of weeds that pop up in your garden and spread throughout your neighborhood. Depending on the style of mulch you choose you could spend as little as $30 per 10m2 if you use your local council mulch or around $60 for decorative mulches. Compost will create healthy soil that needs much fewer additives.

Choose sustainable materials – If you must put in hard surfaces like decking, paving, pergolas, etc., choose materials that have low embodied energies. This is the energy needed to extract, manufacture, transport, and install your product. Not only should the materials you use in the landscape be low in embodied energy, but they should also have reasonable longevity.

Tip: A fantastic choice for low to medium use paths is local toppings.

Limit the use of hardscapes – How often will you have 80 people in your backyard to fill a massive deck? Consider if space could be filled with plants instead.

Line your fences with Fruit Trees – Fruit trees keep on giving with minimal maintenance. If you don’t have the time to be putting in vegetables every 12 weeks and maintaining a vegetable garden, fruit trees are for you. They require limited maintenance and you do not have to replant every season. Each year more dwarf varieties come out that take up less space which is fantastic for the small garden. In the Australian garden, fruit trees require sun for most of the day to provide fruit that is plentiful and tastes good. A fence line is a great spot to find this sun.

Can I fix it? – Your deck might be looking a little ragged now but all it needs is a smarter choice of decking boards. It just needs a fresh coat of oil. A coat of paint on the back fence will revitalize the plantings that you have in front of them.

We love the philosophy adopted by one of our gCADPlus users. Visit sparethoughts landscape design.

gCADPlus software is free to try and can be used to keep a comprehensive set of information about your garden including information about species you’ve planted, calculate quantities of mulch, assist with paving design, and automate the production of plant lists.

gCADPlus also includes a sustainability calculator that helps you produce a design with low impact.