Construction document resources for LA on CAD

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums DETAILS & MATERIALS Construction document resources for LA on CAD

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    I was wondering whether there were any books or resources out on the web to teach construction documentation for LA on AutoCAD? I am trying to teach myself how to create construction documents on the software. I am looking primarily for free resources although I would be willing to buy a book if there are any out there. It seems that all of the resources I’ve come across focus on either Architecture or Mechanical Engineering documentation.

    If resources are scarce, than can anyone give me tips and pointers as to how I can teach myself and whether this would really matter for an interning position?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Have you tried to google “landscape cadd details”?Click on images and you’ll see planty. There are tons of examples out there and quite a few websites where you can download dwg files. A lot of municipalities have construction detail standards in pdf form on their websites. …. assuming you are looking to see examples of generic details to get a feel for drafting them.


    Ok, I will give this a try. Thank you for the tip!


    Try doing an advanced search in Google to find the resources that you are looking for, as it can narrow down the search results to the most relevant ones. Even though tough, I think you can find the resources that you are looking for free of cost, just try to be very vigilant while you search. 

    Tosh K

    Best is to track down a good set from a reputable firm… though they’ll be hard to come by (being legal documents, most designers and contractors are sensitive about it changing hands).  An old copy of landscape graphic standards (and architectural graphic standards) should give you a good start.  The Details in Contemporary Landscape Architecture is useful (more for DD level dwgs); ditto for the German magazine “Detail” (they do occasionally publish urban/landscape details).  The basics of a CD set are no different than architects, and they often have well thought out methods of organizing drawing sets. has a fair number of details published by manufacturers (of varying quality).

    As for does it matter, yes.  Good knowledge of AutoCAD, particularly layer/file organization and all the basic commands is a good start.  Basic knowledge on how things go together (paving, walls, concrete construction/wood construction) is helpful, though I would assume that’s covered in school.  A lot depends on where you are, so keep that in mind (e.g. a wall in LA may only need a shallow footing vs one in MA, but a flagpole may need a deeper one in LA than in MA – hurricane wind/frost depth).

    Chris Whitted

    Are you trying to learn detailing, which is only a part of cds?  Are you trying to learn construction documentation for LA in general?  Or are you trying to learn specifically how to use AutoCAD to generate cds? Those three questions have very different answers.

    There are a lot of resources on detailing out there.  Depending on the type of firm, some may rely on standard details and not do a lot of new stuff, and some might do new detailing for every project.  Some municipalities have details available for download in CAD format – though I’ve yet to see one of those that I would want anyone learning CAD to immitate.

    If you’re trying to learn what goes into LA cds in general, your local municipalities are a great resource depending on where you are.  Find a project or two you like and go down to the development office and ask to see a copy of the plans or look for them online if the municipality offers that.  It should be free other than being charged for copies, as they are public records.  Again keep in mind that not all plans you might see are good examples.

    If you’re trying to learn AutoCAD specifically, there are tutorials included with the software and help files.  You need to understand the basics of file management, layer management, xrefs, layout vs. paper space, and plotting standards (ie lineweights).  There’s another thread on here that isn’t too old that had some links to some 2010 tutorials that do a good job of introducing the basics.

    Finally, does it matter for an intern.  Yes and no.  You’ll be ahead of the game if you can run AutoCAD well and understand the concepts going on.  But an internship’s purpose is in part to teach you how the business works.  Any given firm is going to have their own standards and ways of doing things which you’ll end up learning.  You may adopt these as your own, or you may know or discover better ways of doing those things as you go along.  But knowing the tool (AutoCAD) and knowing how to use/apply it are two different things.

    For my own experience, I knew Microstation very well because that’s what we were taught on even though the world used AutoCAD for the most part.  I took a six week course on AutoCAD just before going to do my internship, and that got me covered enough in the basics that I knew how to use the tool.  Once at my internship, I started by doing redlines which you just have to know how to edit things.  Then you pretty quickly work up to creating new drawings after you’ve worked with and revised a few existing ones.

    Jordan Lockman

    Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards book. there is also a stripped down student version.

    I have checked them out of the library before and purchased the cheaper student version. It has some great information.


    Thanks for the tip! 🙂


    Thank you Tosh! I will def check out that German magazine. I know a friend who works for an Architecture company. I’ll ask him if they can give me a few copies of their CDs for learning purposes. I just checked out the website and I am really liking it! And thanks for also addressing my second question! 🙂


    Thanks Jordan! I saw that on Amazon, but I don’t have the budget to purchase them. I’ll check out my local library!


    Wow, thanks for all the valuable information Chris! My question was a combo of both learning CDs for LA in general and using AutoCAD to generate CDs. I will check out my local municipalities and browse through the forums here. Thanks for addressing my second question too! Your response was very helpful! 🙂

    Matthew Stubbs

    Hi MG, if you are looking for example CD sets the best way to get a hold of those is from a contractor. Contractors bid on many jobs a month an probably don’t get half of them, but to bid on them they get access to the entire CD set usually in PDF format. The site most general contractors use to post drawings for sub contractors to bid is called you can create a account for free but have to receive an invite from the GC to access project documents in most cases. Also I know the Texas department of transportation (tx dot) posts all projects that they are currently bidding on their website in a Tiff format and you can access those for free no matter who you are, as long as you know where to find them on their confusing website. You also might just troll some construction sites, go to a job trailer, tell them your story that you are student and what not and you never know they may give you an old outdated set of plans that they don’t need anymore.

    Paul Buchanan


    I too recommend getting a CD set from a landscape architecture firm. Consider asking a professor to obtain one from one of their friends in the business, or for a reference.  They likely know someone who will work with you and will be glad to assist.  Or, ask a friend in a firm. 

    Typically CD sets have a particular sequence to the drawings, i.e. concrete in one series of details sheets, planting in another, stone work in another and so on, because this assists the general contractor in distribution of various parts of the set to their subcontractors.  Once you obtain a set, request a 1/2 lunch meeting with the person who is the production manager for that set and ask them why they organize the set the way they do.  Offer to bring a lunch for them.  Ask why they prefer to include certain types of information in the drawings and why some is left to a better description in the specifications.


    Their method will be just one way, so if you can do this with 2 or 3 more firms you’ll be exposed to a variety of approaches and be ahead of 90% of your classmates when applying for an internship or job.


    Lastly, ask about field work, construction observation and contract administration and the building process.


    I’m glad to learn there are landscape architecture students out there that want to focus on construction.  I opened my own firm with that exact purpose, providing construction related consultation specifically for landscape architects.


    Best of luck-


    Leslie B Wagle

    You can also listen to “Forgiving Landscape Details & Detailing for Ease of Construction” right here in the webinars under the events tab at Land8, which was offered in January. Then you might look into buying that author’s book.


    Thanks for the tip Matthew! I’ll keep that in mind and will check out those websites. 🙂 

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