The Tools, Tricks and Techniques behind Landscape Architecture

By: Natalie Spinola, Landscape Design Intern

As landscape architects, designers and engineers, we understand the importance of being able to express our ideas both accurately and creatively. We use a wide range of software programs from Adobe products, AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and Lumion as forms of communication in this profession. However, sometimes the most effective way to express our ideas, concepts and design solutions is through hand drawing. At LandDesign, I had the opportunity to see how all forms of expression are used in professional practice while also learning new tools, tricks and techniques.


Coming from a master’s program where my peers and I had different undergraduate degrees, that for the most part were not related to design, architecture or art, we were all slightly intimidated by technical programs like AutoCAD, ArcGIS and even our own ability to hand draw. We had to learn the very basics in a short period of time. However, the more I use these programs, practice hand rendering and receive advice from others, the more I learn and grow as a designer. The experienced professionals at LandDesign are continuously providing new shortcuts, tools and tricks on how to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I also had the opportunity to learn Land F/X, an AutoCAD plug-in program that allows you to create construction details and specific planting plans without the headache of altering and counting acres of vegetation. Where has this program been the past two years of grad school?!


As diagramming is heavily stressed by my professors, it is great to see it is used in the professional environment. Basic diagramming can be a very successful way to communicate concepts to a client or to show an understanding of existing versus proposed conditions. It has been especially useful over the past two months when working on larger scale master planning projects to help illustrate and understand pieces of landscape such as water systems, park and green space systems, spatial relationships and connections and land use. I also had the opportunity to work on a few illustrative renderings using a mix of Photoshop and Google Sketchup. I found that brushes really go a long way to create textures that make your image look much more realistic and appealing.


I am eager to take these new tools, tricks and techniques that I have learned throughout my internship and apply them to my own work as I finish my last year of grad school and continue pursuing a career in landscape architecture. I have found that by keeping up with technology and having the thirst to learn new innovative and creative ways to express your ideas, will not only save you from being overwhelmed and prevent you from falling behind in this competitive market, but it will also save you time and money in the long run.