C.A.D. It stands for Computer Aided Design. Many of you have heard of it, but how many have considered using it? Often landscape contractors do their own design work. Particularly

on residential sales. How many times have you gone out for your first meeting with a residential customer and have been told simply, “I want this area landscaped and automatic sprinklers put in.” The customer follows this up with very few details. You also know that you are competing against several other contractors. Not only will your price determine if you get the job, but your design will probably be the deciding factor.

This type of bidding is drastically different from doing a take-off on a set of plans. A good deal of time and thought must be invested in the design and layout of the job. A proper set of plans must be drawn up for presentation to the customer. With competition what it is, there is a good chance that you will do this often on many jobs that you will not win the contract.

There is a solution. C.A.D. With computer aided design you can have at your fingertips a library of pre-drawn landscape and irrigation symbols. You can prepare preliminary layouts to fit most residential landscapes and even pre-formed landscape designs of varying types. These landscape templates would just be waiting for simple modifications and customizing. Your design and estimating time would be cut in half or more. Particularly if you tie your templates together with pre-made material lists and cost sheets.

None of these savings in time and money will do you any good, though, unless you can initially afford the C.A.D. system. Fortunately in the computer business nothing stands still for very long. The increase in technology is advancing at a dizzy rate. Along with all the other changes prices change too. Usually to the consumers advantage.

The Macintosh computer from Apple Computer, Inc. was designed to be a graphics machine. It is suited for that purpose perfectly. Now, with software available today, it is also the perfect computer aided design machine for the landscape contractor or small architectural office. The cost of the system is under $2,000 (with software for C.A.D.). High quality printing output, necessary for preparing blueprints, is available using laser printers or high-quality color inkjet printers. These printers are available for printing directy from your computer.

You can also take your computer file to many blueprint shops and have professional blueprints made directly from the computer. Because of this you do not need to invest in expensive blueprint machines. Just as you do not need your own office copier unless it is warranted by your volume of work.

The Macintosh is also an excellent choice of computer for all your other office needs. This is another reason why it is much more economical than dedicated C.A.D. systems (systems that only do C.A.D. work). You can use the computer for your bookkeeping, word processing, maintaining mail list, client lists, business projections, project management, cost estimating, and the list goes on and on. And the Macintosh is easy to use. A common trait among owners of Macintosh computers is that they rarely read the manuals that come with the machine or software. It is that easy to use. If you have employees this can be a tremendous advantage. You will save quite a bit of money that would have been spent in learning time.

In San Rafael, California, the architectural and planning firm Forsher & Guthrie uses the Macintosh in combination with xerography and traditional drafting skills to prepare building plans. The combination is appropriate to the needs and the resources of the small firm.

In the almost two years that architect Bob Forsher and planner Matt Guthrie have been in business together, they have worked on plans for retail stores, an industrial park, and – their biggest contract so far – six apartment complexes of from 300 to 400 units each. All designed using the Macintosh. They also use the computer to keep track of budgets and follow the progress of each contract.

Using the same methods as Forsher and Guthrie you can do complete landscape designs on the Macintosh. Changes to plans are simple. For those with a little more to invest you can use such programs as MacDraft in conjunction with a plotter to draw your plans.

There is some specific software available for C.A.D. on the Macintosh. MacCad is a complete library of ready to use

construction symbols. The most appropriate program for any serious drafting on the Macintosh is MacDraft. PC Draft is the version available for Windows computers. Both programs are made by MicroSpot.

Anything that can be done on a drafting table can be done easier and better with MacDraft. One of the program’s more interesting features is the ability to zoom in (enlarge the drawing up to eight times) to do detail work on any area of the drawing. It also does automatic dimensioning.

The addition of a computer in any business, if used properly, can increase productivity and profitability. Add to that the C.A.D. capabilities of the Macintosh and you have a combination that is hard to beat.