The need for a drafting sta​ndard - an excellent backgroud paper

CAD standard

There are many different ways to work with landscape CAD drawings. If you are working professionally, it makes sense to develop your drawings in much the same way for each job. This 'paper' aims to provide the rudiments of a drawing standard for an Australian landscape design office. In no way do we suggest that this document is a bible on how things should be done. It simply canvasses some of the issues that should be discussed in your office before creating such a document..

tipTip: Your drafting standard should be published and made available to other groups you work with. Revisit and edit your drafting standard from time to time. Make sure that you put the revision number and date in the footer of the document.

Best practice  - layering

Movie This movie provides some guidance for landscape CAD drafting.


Accounting/Job records

After visiting the client and winning approval to prepare a design, the company creates a job card using  some type of JobRegister application located on the company server. This application allows hours worked on particular drawings to be logged and ensures that the drawings, documents, photographs and other material is filed in the same way for every job and that records can be found easily by any company employee.

Job record

No design work will be started unless a job card has been created.

Electronic filing

Each job shall have its own folder stored on the server. That folder shall be located under a folder according to year (2014, 2015, 2016 etc.) and in a folder named after the client e.g referring to the example above, the folder would be called Jason Dunstan. multiple jobs for that client can be stored in that folder, but jobs for Jason Dunstan in a following year will be stored under the appropriate year folder.


List the software and versions of the applications in use by your office. For example:

Microsoft Office Suite 2015 - Word, Excel, Access
Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat, Illustrator (CS6)
For 2D design - gCADPlus v 5.9
For managing plant selection - DeepRoot, Plant database file - SppDb
For 3D modeling - SketchUp v 6
For accounting MYOB 2015.



The sub headings below cover the use of CAD software to deliver sets of 2D landscape plans to the client.

CAD template

A template called ULD has been added to the gCADPlus template set. All new designs for a client will start with this template as a base.


to add entities (work) in either model space or paper space. This standard specifies the site will be laid out in model space and layout (paper) space will only use be used for presentation. Layouts will contain title blocks and perhaps illustrative images.


In Australia, the building trade expects drawings to be dimensioned in millimeters, so our ULD always uses mm as the base unit. This means that any enquiry of the drawing (such as the use of the distance or area command to measure the width of a path or the area of paving) should return values in real world (mm) units.

tip Tip: If we receive a drawing from a survey firm, it will likely be drawn in meters as the base, so we open the drawing separately and scale the insert the drawing by 1000, making sure that coordinate 0,0 is chosen as the base coordinate to scale about.

Drawing origin

Our designs provide much valuable information to construction teams. This standard calls for a drawing to have coordinate 0,0 set at a confidently point for setting out.

Plot scales, text height etc.

Determine the scale at plotting/printing time you plot the drawing out. In order for certain items like text and dimensioning to have a good size relationship to the lines of the drawing, you will need to have a final scale in the back of your mind before you start a CAD drawing. We recommend a quick check plot as soon as the boundary lines are in place to the size sheet normally used in your practice.  

Tip: Using the inbuilt gCADPlus SavePDF writer to get a quick check print.

The table below offers suggestions on appropriate text heights for intended plot scales. Here we assume that you are working in the metric field with mm as your base unit and intend to plot to an A1 sheet in layout space. Note that AS1100, (the Australian Standard for Technical drawings) allows only those scale factors listed below. Even though it can be tempting, try and avoid non standard scales such as 1:25, 1:250, 1:75  etc. These are not an approved scale according to the Australian Standard..




1:10 25 35 50 0.1
1:20 50 70 100 0.05
1:50 125 175 250 0.02
1:100 250 350 500 0.01
1:200 500 700 1000 0.05
1:500 1250 1750 2500 0.002
1:1000 2500 3500 5000 0.001

We suggest that general notes should be 2.5 mm final plot height, titles at 5 mm or 7 mm final height.

Dimension styles

It is a good idea to set up a series of dimension styles for printing at different scales. Use different dimensioning styles for dimensioning at different printed scales.


Try and ensure that all layer names and colors remain similar across all CAD drawings made by your practice.

The practice uses the layer names based on the system developed by the Task Force on CAD Layer Guidelines sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and other related professional bodies. The major groups are:

A  Architectural, Interiors and facilities management
S  Structural
M  Mechanical
P  Plumbing
F  Fire Protection
E  Electrical
C  Civil Engineering and Site Work
L  Landscape Architecture

The task force recommends a dash as a detail separator as thus L-IRRIG rather than the non preferred underscore).

The default set of layers in a new drawing might be set up as shown in the figure below.

Default layer set

When plant symbols are inserted into a drawing from the gCADPlus plant selector (general set), two more layers are automatically created. L-PLNT-SYMBOL, L-PLNT-CONSTRUCTION,

Where a drawing is to be presented at different scales (e. g. planting plans) put notes on a different layer i.e.



These should be created as separate drawings and drawn full size 1:1. Name details appropriately and add to the gCADPlus Details folder under BLOCKs.


If you do need to adjust the thickness of a line (or layer), here are some suggested line weights to try:

A3 sheets - 0.09, 0.15, 0.18, 0.2, 0.25, 0.3, 0.4 (in mm)

A1 sheets - 0.1, 0.15, 0.2, 0.25, 0.35, 0.45 (in mm)

Line thickness

File names

gCAD+ encourages you to file drawings in a Jobs folder. We recommend creating a new folder for each calendar year - 2012, 2013, 2014 etc. Each job is placed in a folder named after the client name e. g. JohnDoe. Design development file numbers should be consistent for each job e. g. the first file for the job above should be called DesignDevelopmemt01

Drawing sheet names

Concept layout names


Concept01, Concept02 etc.

Starting a new drawing

Prepare a new drawing from a template that you have made. This template might be modified from one of the templates supplied with gCAD+ and contains all the text and dimension styles that the practice uses. The template should be stored in the template folder and possibly made a read only file. 

If you have been given a base drawing from a survey firm, first check the units. If the units are meter, scale the drawing by 1000.

Attach a survey drawing as a block. Remember that a block can be rotated to line up with (say) north or a major road. 


Some Imperial scale factors.

Scale Factor
1:192 (1/16" = 1 foot) 0.005208
1:128 (3/32" = 1 foot) 0.007813
1:96 (1/8" =1 foot) 0.010417
1:64 (3/16" = 1 foot) 0.015625
1:48 (1/4" = 1 foot) 0.020833
1:32 (1/8" = 1 foot) 0.03125
1:24 (1/4" = 1 foot) 0.04166
1:16 (3/4" = 1 foot) 0.0625
1:12 (1/2" = 1 foot) 0.0833

Protecting work

It is really important to protect your valuable data. It can be devastating to lose information and have to recreate it. This paper offers some suggestions on how to avoid data loss:


A useful article:

Landscape standard