Landscape Project Checklist

In order to ensure that all the elements needed to implement a design are in place at the end of the design phase and before a PDF print is sent to the client, we believe that it can be helpful to use a project checklist. Here are some items we like to consider at that stage.

Start with a template

We routinely start a project with a template designed for and approved by the principal of our design studio. Working this way helps match new work to the studio’s CAD standard. WE have proved that well-constructed template drawings dramatically reduce drafting time. Model space in our template contains some plant symbols and other blocks we commonly use, some text styles, oft-used layers, etc. In layout space, we set up sheets commonly used in our practice and these are pre-loaded with our own title blocks and some floating viewports.

YouTube movie If a custom template is used for every new job, greater consistency is achieved. We show how a template can be set up with a series of layout sheets featuring a title block with your own logo. We add helpful suggestions to your design team on how you want each design job handled.

Sequence of work

The usual landscape design work sequence is set out below. We usually create:

  • a concept design plan (or plans),
  • meet with the client to clarify these conceptual ideas, gain approval, then move to,
  • detailed design work, adding dimensions as you go,
  • species planting, mating each plant to an entry in the plant database file,
  • a plant schedule, and finally
  • add images showing species used in the design.
Concept design plans – three examples
  1. A design based on measurements gained on a site visit with the client. Note the lack of detail as these are just initial suggestions. We await approval from the client before moving to the detailed design stage.

Concept for rear garden

2. Here is another example of a somewhat more detailed concept design, this time created using gCADPlus on a Mac.

3. We often show several alternative concepts for the space as shown in the example below. Option 4 (bottom left) was chosen to build the final design. This contained enough detail for a construction team to implement the design.

Alternative concepts design



Detailed design work – a checklist for working in model space
  1. Double-check the design that everything has been drawn full-size.

YouTube movie While working on a design for a small courtyard, we wanted to change the length of a wall. A linear dimension had already been applied to the wall and we show that the STRETCH command can be used to alter the length of the wall and the dimension itself in one step.

Tip: Apply dimensions as you go as a check.

2. Purge the drawing to reduce file size. There is no point in carrying blocks/symbols that are not needed in this final version of the design. Even very large sites and many details should not be much larger than 0.5-1.0Mb in size.

YouTube movie It is common for drawings to be slow and unwieldy as users insert (and then discard) blocks that they do not use. The BLOCKS command can be used to scan for and remove these unused blocks that are ‘sitting on the shelf. We show how a sample file was reduced in size by an order of magnitude – from 4,000 kb (4 Mb) to 400 kb (0.4Mb) resulting in a dramatic improvement in gCADPlus performance.

3. Check the use of text styles, layer names, and dimension styles – do these match your design office drafting standard?

4. Check that images are in their correct spot – in model space or layout space, not both. If you mix these, print resolution problems may occur if this is the case.

5. Check that the use of text height in the drawing in combination with expected sheet sizes meets your local drafting standard. As an example, the Australian drafting standard sets minimum text heights for use on A1 and A0 sheets. Good text heights make the drawing legible – we aim to ensure that text can be easily read on the printed sheet. The Australian drafting standard allows for the following heights on printed sheets:

1.8mm, 2.0mm, 3.5mm, 5mm and 7mm. On an A1 sheet, the minimum text height is 3.5mm.

It follows that 2.5mm text should be used for general purposes, 3.5mm for secondary titles such as SECTION A-A and in plant schedules.

5.0mm for the primary title e.g LANDSCAPE DESIGN FOR LOT14 JAMES ROAD

*** 1.8mm or 2.0 mm should be used sparingly. *** 


If there is a requirement to print a version of the design that uses transparency to ‘see through’ the upper canopy of your planting plan, have you made a copy of the design and stored it within model space (sans plant symbols) in case you need to print a very high resolution of the design. High-resolution PDFwriters do not print designs properly if transparency is used.

Tip: Use the view switch to check for the presence of transparency in entities.

Check via the blocks command that each block in the drawing has a suitable base point. In most cases, the base point will be the center of a symbol.

If a grid sheet is required, is it to be placed in model space or in layout spaces?

Have you run the gCADPlus sustainable calculator over your design?

Images – consider GoogleEarth image showing the site – on its own layer – l-IMAGE. Consider the use of an image editor to enhance the image.

Have you included the following?

A suitable scale bar.

A legend.

An MTEXT entity detailing the design philosophy.

Placed the plant schedule, well away from the main design?

Have details been added – details such as screens, water features, raided planters, and water features, are placed well away from the main design. These will be shown on layout sheets by creating new floating viewports within existing layouts.


Create layouts – a checklist for working in layout space

Layout sheets

Designer initial, checked by,