Creating a fully featured *2D* Planting Plan and Scheduling Plugin

Keyscape for AutoCad is clunky and increasingly expensive but is widely used by Landscape Architects to produce planting plans and schedules.

As part of my broader interest in making Rhino a viable alternative to AutoCad for Landscape Architects, I’ve been wondering about the possibility of creating an equivalent of Keyscape for Rhino.

I can provide a clear brief from the user end but I have no knowledge/experience on the coding/software development side of things.

If anyone can help advise me on this with some pointers or potential ongoing collaboration please get in touch. I am looking at potential sources of funding, but at this point this is a pro-bono effort, with potential to generate revenue in time through licencing to fund ongoing development and support.


How does this relate to Lands Design / RhinoLands - the ‘official’ Landscape Architecture plugin for Rhino?


  1. Lands Design / RhinoLands includes planting design and scheduling functionality but the current functionality has limitations which mean it is not currently viable as an alternative to Keyscape (for my studio and other studios I’m in touch with). I’ve been in touch with a Lands Design / RhinoLands developer about these limitations, and I’m told that my suggestions have been ‘transmitted to the development team for discussion’, but I have no guarantee that the needed features/functionality will be added in future updates. I’m happy to describe these limitations in greater detail if anyone’s interested.

  2. Lands Design / RhinoLands is developing 2D documentation and 3D visualisation functionality in parallel. The plugin I am interested to develop would be for 2D documentation only. I anticipate this will help simplify development.

  3. There may be potential for this project to feed into improvements to Lands Design / RhinoLands planting design and documentation functionality, even if only by demonstrating the full functionality that landscape architects need.

  4. Some broader aspects of my honest appraisal of Lands Design / RhinoLands at this point are:

  • As above, Lands Design / RhinoLands can’t (yet) do everything I need it to do to replace AutoCad (and potentially Revit).

  • Lands Design / RhinoLands is an interesting plugin with some unique features and functionality. But having followed its development over the past 4 years or so, this development process doesn’t seem to be overly responsive to the needs of landscape architects in terms of the kind of essential, bread-and-butter functionality I’m looking to cater for with this plugin.

  • My view is that Lands Design / RhinoLands is now pretty expensive for the level of extra functionality it currently offers on top of Rhino. Considering this in relation to (i) and (ii), at this point I’m unsure whether I can justify/afford to sponsor the further development of Lands Design / RhinoLands without greater confidence that it will provide the full functionality that I need for it to take the place of AutoCad (and potentially also Revit).

  • In relation to all the above, I feel it might not do any harm for Lands Design / RhinoLands to have some competition in terms of customising / adding functionality to Rhino to make it a viable alternative to AutoCad and Revit for landscape architecture.

Hi Hugh
That’s really interesting - it’s ten years ago since my post! I was considering moving to Rhino (main impediments were difficulty producing a sheet set for a real job eg 10 to 40 sheets+, and lack of an integrated spreadsheet). Since 2004 I’ve primarily used vectorworks, and to some extent SketchUp (although it too lacks a spreadsheet - and has since gone to a SAAS model which I’m not interested in - I often end up living in rural areas with poor Internet connections).

VisualArq seems too uncertain, I never see anyone talking about it online so it looks like it could just be money down the drain.

Vectorworks (which is a horrible CAD) is largely only used by landscape architects (with some architects, & many lighting designers). It’s good for what it does but it’s clunky and apparently written in very old code -and has gone to SAAS, so I will be stopping at version 2022. BUT it has an integrated spreadsheet, poorly undocumented but you can point it at a polygon and then start doing calculations, it enables reasonably complex math to adjust plant density, mixed species planting counts and so on.

I studied on AutoCAD and at the time it also lacked an integrated spreadsheet but had a straight forward-ish way to link to excel…

The issue I have with plugins like LandsDesign is has more functionality than I would use - I don’t do photo real planting plans.

I don’t even know what RhinoLands is - the problem with a lot of CAD software is that it assumes practitioners only do one thing and landscape architects do a certain amount of every imaginable discipline from industrial design through to architecture and lot of things with plants and ecology and spatial analysis in between. Many software packages do not cater for this reality (I was specifically trained for instance to rip the lids off silos).

At the moment I’m starting to experiment with blender as it looks like the solution going forward - seem to be several spreadsheet plugins in the works, or already out as fully fledged items.

Rhino does not seem oriented to landscsapes or buildings and I have almost certainly moved on from it, although if a spreadsheet was available it would be a shorter learning curve than blender.
Cheers Nigel Growplan New Zealand

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