Landscape Design Software & HArdware

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    Wayne Walker

    I have been asked by a friend to help advise on some landscape software and also hardware. 

    He does landscape design and currently uses a drawing board and traces over a photograph of the garden to make the design

    He was talking about getting a macbook pro (as its needs to be portable and run on batteries) to use for hes landscape design

    But before splashing out on a mac , i suggested understanding the software available and also what platform it runs on.

    anyone have any recommendations – I dont know his budget and really dont know much more that I have posted

    Thanks in advance

    Robert Anderson

    When I started my practice I deliberately went to mac because after carefully reviewing my options with regard to hardware and software the reliability of the OS of a mac and the near parity of software options made it a logical choice. Gone are the days, with the notable exception of AutoCAD, are you limited by your desktop OS on what software packages are available.

    As a matter of fact I do consulting for a couple of firms and one of them uses Windows and Vectorworks Landmark 2015 while in my own practice and office I use Mac OSX and the same Vectorworks Landmark 2015 and have found that Landmark is more stable on the mac and often I can do things with the mac that the windows version just can’t handle.

    Best of luck with your endeavors.

    Wayne Walker

    Thanks for the quick reply, 

    What software would you recommend – is it Vectorworks Landmark 2015 as i cant seem to find a price 

    And the budget would be small

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Just for the record – Vectorworks was designed for mac much like autocad was designed for pc. It is just as logical that Vectorworks runs better on a Mac as it is that AutoCAD runs better on a pc. Whether those differences are significant or not is another story.


    If your friend still prefers to work by hand, I would suggest to him getting Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom tablet. It takes some getting used to, but once mastered it’s as good as the traditional pen and paper with the benefits of the undo button.

    Wayne Walker

    Thanks for that 

    i know photoshop very well as a semi-pro photographer and he could use elements – which is quite cheap

    I will suggest that, as vector works appears to be considerably expensive

    Stefano Ascari

    There is no reason. 0. to get a mac. On average, the hardware specs for macs cost twice as much as PCs. There was a time when it didn’t matter because you got OSX, but Windows has caught up in my opinion and OSX has stayed mostly the same. I don’t understand why we’re still on the designer/mac bandwagon in 2014. Really look closely at the specs and do a price comparison. I would go with a Dell XPS with a dedicated video card. Vectorworks operates just fine on a pc.

    Tyson Carroll

    I am going to respectively disagree. We switched our office over to mac’s about 2 years ago and when we priced out a commercial grade pc to a mac the price was within 10% of one another. The argument can be made for or against both systems but in the end it comes down to user preference. Both systems have their pluses and minuses. 

    Stefano Ascari

    Eh. I can’t offer a response without seeing a source chart for that spec comparison 🙂 (but you could say the same about me as well). I came to design from an IT background and that’s where my knowledge is sourced from. You have to take into account other things as well, such as available upgrades and life cycles etc. 

    Tyson Carroll

    True. Here were the specs 

    Core I7
    8 GB RAM
    512 GB SSD
    1 gb or 2gb video card
    27″ display
    I was off by my numbers. The difference was 20% mac higher than a PC but I added 8 more gb of ram and got a laptop verse desktop. 
    Doug Prouty

    I am currently using a Mac book pro and have a mix bag of programs since I transitioned from a dell tower. I am using f/x cad with land f/x with parallels on windows 7. Land f/x is great for rendered plans for client presentation as well as full construction plans. I haven’t used Vectorworks so I’m no help there. Do note that regardless of the computers os autocad crashes and will always crash no matter how many versions they make (aka job security)!

    For graphics I am using adobe cs6 Mac version without any issues

    This is my first time with a Mac and I love it. System start up time is extremely fast and parallels works well on the Mac.

    For hand graphics go with a nice good sized Wacom tablet. The bigger the better is my preference.

    If budget is an issue, Mac will be more expensive. Either way get a good graphics card and processor. Hard drive size around 500gb will work. Get a 2tb portable hard drive especially if you’re going mobile. Also a good carvcargerbwith ac adapter comes in handy if he’s in the field a lot (home depot sells good ones).

    Good luck!

    Wayne Walker

    Thanks for the replies 


    These days the hardware in a mac is the same as a PC. The only reason to buy a mac is if:

    1. You need software specifically designed for a mac
    2. You are already invested in the apple eco-system
    3. You want the most stylish computer on the market

    Unless a software package (not just a version of it) it’s typically better to go with a windows computer. You can generally get the same or more computing power in a laptop for 1/3rd the cost.

    Wayne Walker


    Part of the question was what software was available and recommended. 

    But i think most of the recommendations are out of his current price range at £1000s

    Thanks again

    Tosh K

    your budget seems awfully low for a full workstation laptop.  I paid over $2500 ten years ago for my MacBook pro (used mainly Adobe CS on it) but it still works fine (with the software package I got for it)- can’t say the same for the pcs my peers all bought.  The nice thing about the macs is they had been more longer lasting, so over 6+ yrs it pays for the premium (the dells, hps, Toshibas, etc, all seemed to run their processors at a higher temp and lacked the cooling needed to keep them efficient).  No idea if this is still true.

    That being said, the mac versions of autocad, and rhino seemed to have issues.

    I would think in this day and age you would want Adobe CC, SketchUp, AutoCAD LT… though less expensive alternatives are available.

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