As it seems everything becomes digitized and done on computers it is interesting to reflect on the role of computer aided design (CAD) in landscape design. Interestingly, many garden designers and landscape architects still draw their plans by hand, especially at a residential scale. Hand drawings have the benefit of a traditional drawn look that works well for residential design. Most major design firms, in the design professions use AutoCAD or some alternative program to draft, (we use Vectorworks) especially for large scale projects.
We prefer computer drafted plans for a number of reasons. First, we typically have our sites digital surveyed with GPS technology. This ensures an accurate basemap and topographic information that can help in project planning.
The other major advantage to digital drawings is their flexibility. Revisions can be made simply without erasing or redrawing plans. We typically color our plans with digital illustration tools that give our plans a more hand drawn and colored look. Often we will include color photographs on plans that can be difficult to incorporate with hand drawn full size materials.
Digital tools are also constantly improving. Digital drawing tablets and ever improving technology mean the gap between digital and hand rendered graphics is closing.