This module will guide you through the process of using gCADPlus landscape design software to create the design shown in the figure below . Click on the image to view a plan and section view of the design as a full size high resolution PDF file of the type you might send to your client as an email attachment.

Modern courtyard

Among other features, the design includes an ornamental pool, fountain with rill and white noise wall, installation of artwork, screening, raised entertaining area, generation of plant and ground cover schedules, presenting designs, incorporating images, adding extended entity data, and costing a design.

We will work in metric units, but designers who work in feet (Imperial USA) are encouraged to work through the exercise. We will make an Imperial version of this module at a later stage.

One drawing - many presentation sheets​

From a single CAD model (drawing) , many layout sheets can be produced. The figures below show just some of the many layout sheets you will produce in this module. Note that all information is held in the one gCADPlus file.

Cover sheet

Seating Images

Schedule

SectionA

ArtworkASmall

 

Tree planting detail Wall hanging

Assumptions

We assume that you have completed the earlier modules in this series and have a copy of gCADPlus (aka GardenCAD Plus) loaded and running on your computer. 

Preliminary steps - adjust drafting preferences

A drafting board will often have attached to it a number of drafting aids - a tool to ensure that lines can be drawn perfectly horizontal or vertical, a tool to switch those lines at any angle and you may well be in the habit of drafting on some type of grid. gCADPlus has those features too and it is a good idea to check them out and make sure that they are appropriate before you start drafting. This step is often overlooked and much productivity is lost.

This site is 16,000 units (mm) deep by 12,000 mm wide. There is a path 1200 mm wide next to the house and the wall of the house is 230 mm wide. Most of the dimensions are multiples of 100, so it makes sense to set the electronic grid to a value that will make placing entities of that length straightforward.

Dimensions multiple 100

A 100 mm grid with a step size every 5 will make a reasonable grid.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to adjust drafting settings to a state suitable for developing this design.

Set drafting preferences Set drafting preferences before you begin.

Start gCADPlus.

Select the default template.

Right click on the desktop and set a 100 mm grid. Make sure that the Grid is on (Function key 7 can be used to toggle the grid on or off as can the GRID tab at the bottom of the screen). Set the Grid bold step to 5. This means that a bold point will show every half meter. 

Set grid 2

Next click on the Polar Tracking options and enable distance step and set to 100 units such that when Polar is on, every movement of the cursor will jump at 100 mm intervals.

Polar tracking

The third tab allows adjustment of the Object Snap settings. Some users prefer to preset these (say to END and INTersection), but for now leave these as they are. Notice the options tab in the dialog box where it is possible to further adjust the behavior of gCADPlus. Some users like osnap setting to pop up when the middle button of the mouse is pressed.

Osnap settings

As shown in the movie, with Polar on, set the boundaries of the site by drawing a 16000 units long line from coordinate 0,0 to the right,

Continue on drawing a line 12000 units directly up, a line 16000 to the left and complete the rectangle by drawing a line 12000 units down.

Tip: You could have equally used the rectangle command setting the bottom left of the rectangle to coordinate 0,0 and the top right to 16000,12000.

 

Draw house wall, windows and sight line

Most successful designs have some sort of focal point. Next we will draw the wall of the house, location of windows and create a sight viewing line from the main day room into the garden as shown below.

Sight line

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences Create the window wall and sight line.

Set drafting preferences  Draw window wall and offset path width

Using the dimensions above and using the instructions in the movie, add the windows wall and path detail to the plan.

Use Modify>Offset

Select the vertical line on left and offset it by 230 units to get the external wall of the house drawn. (use through point, then distance and type 230)

Offset the bottom boundary by 2862 units to set the bottom line of the windows wall series.

Offset the bottom boundary line​ 8862 units to get the top of the window series.

Modify trim and slice off overhanging lines.

Check the length of the windows using the distance command.

Offset the bottom of the window wall 1500 units. Repeat to complete the window wall.

Set the site line by drawing a small construction line inside the next to bottom window. Use the Ray entity tool.

Offset the back wall of the house 1000 units to show the path.

 

Create design work

There is no escaping the fact that it does takes time to get the 'hard' elements of the site (boundaries, dwelling walls etc.) accurately in place. Once that is done however, your design ideas can rapidly take flight, especially if you set an underlying electronic grid and snap settings up, creating the design seems to take no time at all. The figure below shows an intermediate stage of design and the movie below shows how quickly the design came together. 

Design stages

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences Here we show how easy it is to create a design using an underlying grid to assist in the placement of entities.

 

Set drafting preferences  Create your design

As shown in the movie, making sure that the grid, snap and polar are turned on, create the base of a design - there is no need to slavishly copy our design. We suggest that you will find the rectangle entity very easy to work with. It may pay to experiment with some of the different options to place rectangles.

Save your design to a different file names for different design choices. It is a great marketing idea to offer a client at least two versions of a design - gCADPlus allows you to do that without much of a time penalty.

 

Underground tank and pumping assembly

The design calls for the installation of an underground tank and some pumping equipment to supply the water features. These need to be indicated using dashed lines.

Chnage linetype

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to change the linetype of entities that represent hidden tanks and pipe work.

 

Set drafting preferences  Set linetypes for underground fixtures

As shown in the movie, place circles and rectangles indicating hidden equipment for water storage and pumping.

Add the screened service area at the rear of the property.

 

Water rill

Our design calls for the installation of a water rill that discharges into an ornamental pool.

Water rill

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to use the rectangle command to create a simple design for a raised water rill.

Set drafting preferences  Design water rill

As shown in the movie, make a short construction line based on the mid point of the top edge of the shallow pool.

Then use the rectangle command (with the three point placement option) to place two rectangles to indicate the water rill.

 

Design custom planting boxes

Our design called for the installation of two custom designed planter boxes and plinth for the installation of some custom art work at the end if the site line.

Planterboxes

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences Using the correct grid and snap settings, it is a simple matter to design a pair of custom planter boxes.

planter boxes

Set drafting preferences  Design planter boxes

As shown in the movie, design two custom planter boxes.

Make sure that SNAP and polar options are on and that the grid is set to 100 and tracking is on with a step size of 100. This makes the placement of planter box entities quite straightforward.

Tip: If you have time, experiment with the use of the block command to make a single symbol out of the many entities that make up the planter box. 

For help on the block command, visit this link: http://plus.gardencad.net/?q=content/make-block

 

Furniture and Gabion seating

Visit our downloads page, choose the furniture page and save a copy of the file Seating&Gabion file to your desktop. In the exercise that follows, you will insert this symbol (block) to create a sheltered adult entertaining area.

Gabion

 

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to download a symbol for the seating and gabion shelter and save it to the desk top for later recall.

Set drafting preferences  Insert a block for gabion and seating

As shown in the movie, use the BLOCKs icon and browse to the location of the downloaded file.

Insert the block and position it as shown.

 
Using layers

Now is a good time to begin using layers to provide some structure to the drawing. While it is not absolutely necessary to use layers, their use can make for a much smoother drafting and design experience.

Make a layer for furniture (L-FURNITURE) and put the Gabion seating symbol block on it.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie discusses the use of the LAYER option in landscape drawings.

Set drafting preferences  Create some layers, movie entities to different layers

As shown in the movie, create a layer L-IRRIG, a layer L-FURNITURE.
Move the symbols for the gabion walling and planter boxes to that layer using the Properties box.
 
Using layers in gCADPlus
 
Planting symbols

Using skills gained in the earlier modules, next we will populate the design with some plant symbols.

Tip: Rather than inserting individual symbols from the plant symbol library, you may find it rather convenient to insert a single gCADPlus drawing containing a group of symbols as a block. That block can be inserted into your drawing using the BLOCKS command and after the single insert, many plant symbols will be available.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to insert a symbol containing many (nested) planting symbols into a drawing.

Nested symbols

 

Download symbol set

Here is a link for you to download a copy of the set of symbols we used in the movie below.

Group symbols

 

Set drafting preferences  Insert the planting symbols set

As shown in the movie, insert the symbol set and explode it ready for plant symbol placement.

 

Placing symbols

Here is an example of how we went about placing symbols for our particular design. 

Plan

 

 

Layout

If you have an image (photograph or rendered image) showing the type of seating you propose, now would be a good time to create a new layout and insert that image into it.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to set up a new layout space and insert an image illustrating the type of seating arrangement we propose. Here is a link to the image if you do not have a suitable example in your own files.

 
 

Set drafting preferences  Create a layout

As shown in the movie, use the Layout option and create a new layout. 

Use the Draw>Insert Raster sequence and place the image on the page.

 

Using layers

Now is a good time to begin using layers to provide some structure to the drawing. While it is not absolutely necessary to use layers, their use can make for a much smoother drafting and design experience.

Make a layer for furniture (L-FURNITURE) and put the Gabion seating symbol block on it.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie discusses the use of the LAYER option in landscape drawings.

Set drafting preferences  Create some layers, movie entities to different layers

As shown in the movie, create a layer L-IRRIG, a layer L-FURNITURE.
Move the symbols for the gabion walling and planter boxes to that layer using the Properties box.
 
Using layers in gCADPlus
 
 
Preparing a simple 3D view for a client

The concept plan is complete. Many clients are happy to accept 2D plans such as the one we have developed, but others find interpreting design difficult and require 3D representation. Since the design is accurate and thought through, now might be a good time to prepare a 3D view for the client by exporting the base geometry in a form suitable for use in 3D modeling software such as SketchUp. Using the Push/Pull tool in SketchUp, it should be quite straightforward to create a 3D model by extruding shapes that we have laid down in 2D into 3D.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to export information to SketchUp.

SketchUp

 

Set drafting preferences  Export 2D information to SketchUp

As shown, select those parts of the design required as a base for a simple SketchUp model to a dwg or DXF file.

Start SketchUp and import the dwg file.

Using the line, rectangle and push/pull tools, create a 3D model of your design.

The approach you adopt in the SketchUp environment will depend on your relationship with the client.
 

It may be important to keep cost down and simply hand rendering the wireframe image may be enough. Alternatively, it is possible to attach materials to surfaces in the 3D modelling environment and produce photo-realistic renderings. This however does take time.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how the base information in gCADPlus is used in the SketchUp environment to create a 3D model.

 
Plant schedule ~ attach a plant list

Let's return to the 2D gCADPlus environment and attach list of plants that may be potential candidates for inclusion into this design. We will then assign symbols to names finally draw the plant schedule using one of gCADPlus's automated tool.

Draw plant schedule

 

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to attach a plant list to a drawing, link a symbol to a particular species in the list, perform a visual check to make sure that all plants have been tagged and finally show how to generate the plant schedule complete with a number count.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates that there are a number of options available when the draw plant schedule routine is run. 

Set drafting preferences  Create a plant schedule and display the base plan and schedule on an A2 sheet

Run the plant schedule.

Create a new layout and present the design on the sheet size that you prefer when showing the design to the client.

Plan&Schedule 

 
 
Use patterning tool

There is often a need to apply massed planting symbols over a defined area. We provide a tool to do that. It is selected from the gCADPlus drop down menu. You select a symbol for the massed planting (scaled to an appropriate size before you start), choose a polyline that delineates the area to be patterned, specify the planting distance, the angle and patterning is applied.

Pattern tool

Set drafting preferences  Apply patterning

Follow the instructions in the movie and apply patterning to the area surrounding the adult entertaining area.

 
Alternative method for indicating ground cover planting

Landscape designers have differing preferences when it comes to indicating ground cover planting. As you have seen, patterning can be used. In that case, the number of specimens required by the design is included in the planting schedule. There are times (especially on large scale projects) when that is not appropriate. This movie discusses an alternative approach to indicating ground cover planting.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how the ground cover schedule tool operates.. 

Ground cover planting
 

Set drafting preferences  Generate a ground cover schedule

Save your current design as (say) DesignAfterPatterning

As shown in the video, create a zone of ground cover planting for the area around the enclosed entertaining area

After satisfying yourself that you know how to use the ground cover mark area tool correctly, close the drawing and reopen the saved DesignAfterPatterning drawing. You need to do that in order to run the next exercise correctly.

 
Costing
Once a design has been completed an a full planting schedule created, costing can be extracted from the design. In the exercise that follows, we will extract species quantities frow the planting schedule and show how the data can be manipulated in spreadsheets such as Excel and Google Docs sheets.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how to extract quantify data from a plant schedule.

Plant Schedule in Google Docs spreadsheet

 
Wall han​ging feature

Because gCADPlus allows export of design information as a DXF file and laser cutting services cab accept DXF file, it is possible to design features for inclusion in landscape designs. The image below shows a series of panels designed to be cut from metal and hung against a back board. Color is applied to the board to accentuate the design.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie shows how we designed the wall feature. It also illustrates the use of the break command together with an example of moving a group of entities a precise distance using polar coordinates [move>15@<180]. 

Artwork
 
Wall hanging
 
It is possible to apply shadowing to each rectangle - that perhaps creates a more realistic view of what we have in mind for the hanging panels.
 
Set drafting preferences  Wall hanging artwork

You might like to close the drawing you have been working on and develop a design for a some wall artwork of your own

That drawing can be inserted as a block into your courtyard design and shown on a separate sheet.

 
Extended entity data

One of the feature of gCADPlus is its ability to store much non graphic information with symbols. This information is hidden and not exposed till you ask for it. The figure below shows some typical information stored with a  symbol representing one Japanese maple cultivar.

Extended data

 

Set drafting preferences  Extended entity data

Follow the inst​ructions in the movie and add some extended entity information.

 

Crea​te a section

A common need in a landscape plan is to create sections through a design. These can be tedious to do, so we have developed a tool that cuts a section line, labels the line with a bubble containing your desired text and drops a series of construction lines up or down from points in the drawing that the section line intersects. This makes building the section much easier.

The figure below shows the result of running the tool in our drawing. A-A1 is the section line and we will draw the actual section at the top of the design as shown in the image below.

Create section

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates the use of the Section tool. 

The figure below shows a partly finished section.

Section

 
Set drafting preferences  Create a section
 
Follow the instructions in the movie and create a cross section.

Create a new layout and display the base plan and section view as shown above.

Here is another example of a section from a different design.

Section view

Apply shadow​ing

 

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates the use of the shadow tool. 

shadowing
Proposal for the client

We have not explored all of the tools available in gCADPlus, but now is a good time to present your design to the client. f you have been producing a series of PDF files matching each of the layout sheets, this is a simple matter of using the Merge PDF tool and gather those PDF files into one. Click on the image below to view the 'final' presentation.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates the use of the Merge PDF tool. 

Merge PDF
Make raster 

This option can be used to make a raster version of the design, perhaps to move to Photoshop for fine tuning.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates the use of the make raster tool. 

 

Raster version

Using the leader too to apply labels to part of the design

The leader tool provides a quick way to apply labels to parts of your design. the figure below shows the leader command being used to label an ornamental bird bath.

Adjust drafting preferences Adjust drafting preferences This movie illustrates the use of the leader tool. 

Use Leader

Rendering 3D model in SketchUp

Click here to read more about how the information in this 2D plan can be moved to SketchUp.

Presenting the design in layout space

When you have built your 2D design and the 3D Model based on it, it is time to present the design to the client. To do this, take advantage of gCADPlus layout features. the figure below shows one student's assignment on this project. She has a plan, plant schedule, ground cover and a design for a wall hanging. Several layout sheets have been created, but we will take you through the steps involved in creating a new one.

Model space

Step 1:

Decide on the size sheet that is going to be used to present the design. Perhaps the most common size sheet used by landscape designers is an A2 sheet in landscape format.

Click the Format tab and select Layouts. the dialog box shown below appears.

Select sheet

There are three current layout sheets, each labelled. We are going to create a new layout.

Select the New icon (alongside the delete option).

New layout

While the row is marked with the blue color, select the sheet size. The dialog box shown below appears.

Select sheet

Select A2 and a new layout (called layout 1) appears as shown below.

Layout1

Note that the design in model space has now been transferred to the layout space inside a box (a floating viewport). Right click and select zoom extents to see the whole sheet. use the measure tool to check that the sheet is 494 mm across.

Movie  Movie This (rather long) 17 minute movie shows how to present the design on an A2 sheet. We create several floating view port windows and set the scale factor for the window containing the plan view to 1:50. Click on the image to view the PDF print from this design.

A2 Sheet

 

 

Design #4: Modern courtyard