Whilst I am glad you all find the discussion useful – let’s avoid blank statements and overlooking the progress some applications had achieved. Every release of each application brings many new and sometimes very good features. Some of these upgrades make a huge difference and change the appeal of the software.
So for 2D – AutoCAD LT is great.
Rhino is great for complex curvy forms but is not an architectural (and certainly not a landscape) design application. Coupled with VRay – it can produce high quality renderings. Rhino Terrain sounds ideal on paper but probably requires a few more years to mature and address our needs in a convincing way.
Full AutoCAD is a fine general 3D modelling. If you want a step further, then AutoCAD Architecture is a powerful object-oriented 3D modelling and drawing tool. It will deal with almost anything from complex forms to dynamic sections, simple terrains and rendering. It is my tool of choice and far more appropriate than 3D Max.
Planting design is a thorny issue and I am interested in your opinion. In essence, what is your preferred application or AutoCAD add-on – ideally something that does not cost like another AutoCAD license.
I am intrigued by the new release of Vectorworks and will give it thorough trial too.