Why Sketchup for 3D Garden Design?
On most projects, I now work exclusively in Sketchup, a NPR (Non Photo-realistic) computer-aided design (CAD) programme that allows me to ‘build’ a garden, and its constituent elements, in 3D. Whilst I still work with AutoCAD in 2D on projects that require it, I find that all clients love Sketchup, and universally prefer a 3D model to a 2D drawing.
Sketchup enables me to show the client far more effectively how their completed garden will actually look, rather than asking them to interpret two-dimensional plans, sections and elevations. It gives clients a clear idea of spatial arrangement, and it’s easy for me to make animations such as walk-throughs or fly-throughs that I can than share instantly by email or Dropbox. Clients who really want to get involved can even download a free version of Sketchup to move around inside the model themselves – though most are content for me to produce drawings and animations of their garden
Accurate Professional Drawings
Sketchup Pro is widely used by Architects and is also capable of producing accurate scale drawings, allowing me to produce high-quality working drawings for a landscape contractor to work from, ensuring that the garden is built exactly as it was designed. I believe that using 3D design software makes me a better designer, and now that I design this way, I would never go back to 2D. Designs can be completed more quickly, and any problems with levels or spatial organisation become apparent far earlier in the design process.
The advantage of CAD over hand-drawn design is that revisions to garden designs are made simpler, and therefore quicker and ultimately cheaper. This is because several drawings can derive from one model of a garden, so that changes to that model can update all related drawings. This frees me up to re-think a garden at any stage or to make revisions that stem from clients’ suggestions, without worrying too much about how much time it will take. It’s also easy to do cool things like design different versions of a garden (or areas of a garden) that are kept on different layers that can be turned on and off to show clients different design options – by cost, material, or spatial organisation.