Wednesday, 19 July 2023
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It is currently not possible to display the total amount of shrubs in a Concept Shrub Area label, like it would be with a Regular Shrub Area.

With a regular shrub area, you set the plant, set the spacing, and then hatch an area. The spacing and square footage of the hatch are then combined with triangular geometry and run through an algorithm to determine the total amount of shrubs that can fit inside that hatch. When placing a label on that hatch, the total amount of shrubs can be displayed in the label. This is totally normal and straightforward.

With a concept shrub area, you set multiple plants, set spacing for each plant, set percentage of each plant, and then hatch an area. Just like before, the data is sent through an algorithm that determines the total amount of shrubs, but also determines individual amounts of each type of shrub that can fit inside that hatch. When placing a label on that hatch, the total amount of shrubs CANNOT be displayed in the label. Only the square footage can be displayed next to the name of the label. Since there are multiple plants in this shrub area, you can parse out how many of each individual shrub are placed in the label itself. Even the schedule for the concept plant areas parse out individual numbers of shrubs, and this is normal and straightforward because that's the entire point of using this feature.

Now, the link I've attached is to an hour long video about this exact process and the reasons behind using concept plant mixes. In this video, you can even see a label that shows the total amount of shrubs that should be placed within a certain square footage of the concept shrub area.

When speaking to a Land F/X Support employee, at first I was told that this is totally possible, and I was given links to generalized information about concept plants and labelling and told to "look it up". This didn't help me at all, because I had already looked it up and didn't find my answers, so I tried clarifying several times with the representative. The last message sent to me essentially told me to post on the forum because they couldn't understand why I thought this feature was necessary. That was not helpful, nor did it provide any support at all. And here we are.

In summary, the concept plant manager was developed for situations like this. A plant label for a shrub area should be able to fetch the total amount of plants in that area, whether they're the same plants, or they're different. That's arguably the most important piece of information someone would be looking for in a plant label. The idea (from this representative) that this is somehow a hard ask or that it's not relevant is beyond me.

I'd normally ask for people to chime in with their opinions, but this situation is pretty cut and dry.
Aaron Cagle set the type of the post as  Issue — 10 months ago
After reading all that I’m still fuzzy on what exactly you are wanting.
Can you please just provide an example label of what you are proposing?

Unfortunately, I don't think the situation is as cut and dry for me as it might seem to you. I'd also like to get a more thorough explanation on what this is for.

The webinar you're referring to is mine. Those labels you're circling are there simply to help with a calculation to figure out what percent fill and spacing I should put into the end mix order to get the label you're saying you don't want. The "herbaceous" labels were only there as a visual teaching aids to explain the process, and were quickly determined by selecting the symbols in the area and looking at the number in the properties panel for the amount of blocks selected.

It sounds like you want a label that says "Buffer Mix (1480)", as in 1480 total plants. In order to add something like this to the wishlist, we'll need to understand the context of why this is needed in order to make sure there isn't a much faster method that doesn't need a special label. I can't see how that 1480 number, in the provided situation with 20+ species, likely all at different spacings and sizes, is giving information that can be used by a contractor to lay out plants in that bed.

Is there some sort of city requirement you're trying to satisfy? Could you link to the wording of that requirement, and I can see if this is indeed the only/best way information like what's needed can be portrayed, vs the tools we already have in the software?

10 months ago

Yes, I'd like to have the option to display the total number of plants next to a concept plant shrub area. Instead of Buffer Mix (sf) I want Buffer Mix (total qty). In the CAD picture I provided, the spacing for "SHM" is different than the spacing in the concept shrub area, so the numbers don't match. But that isn't important. What's important is that on the left it shows the total number of shrubs in SHM and on the right, it only shows square footage next to the label.

Here's a more in-depth explanation as to the situation I'm in:

I'm working on a massive landscape plan for a golf course clubhouse in Palm Beach Gardens (PBG), FL, one of the toughest cities to get landscape plans approved in. Here are a few general rules that pertain to this discussion and that I must follow when doing plans for that particular city:

1. Where a plant is placed, it must be planted. There is no wiggle room. If you show a plant on a plan, and it isn't planted there, you either get fined or the process of approval stops until it is remediated.
2. There is a detailed point system that relies on the number of particular plants placed.
3. The plan must be visually clean and condensed as much as possible to save paper and time. Having concept labels like the one in my picture that lay out all the individual plants and their quantities simply will not fit on my plan without interfering with the readability of it.

Now, let me explain why these rules pertain to this discussion:

1. There are areas in the clubhouse that will have dense buffers planted to avoid seeing parked cars, high walls, etc. In the past, we have placed individual plants in these locations for the buffers, just as you did in the beginning of your video to calculate the percentages of your concept shrub area. Each plant placed had its own symbol and exact location. Now, when you get out into the real world, contractors don't always get you exactly what you want. There are also unforeseen obstacles, and sometimes root balls inhibit placing plants up close to large trees, or you may see something and want to finesse it a little bit to make it look better. In Palm Beach Gardens, you cannot do that. The plants have to go exactly where they are on the plan. This is a huge issue.

So, that being an issue, we decided to use a regular shrub area called "Shrub Mix" (SHM) to account for all of the grasses, shrubs, understory trees, etc, that would go under the main trees and palms in these buffer areas. Since regular shrub areas don't have the ability to include or call out multiple plants, we had to parse out the plants manually for every single landscape plan in this development. This is exhausting, a huge inefficiency, and leaves room for a lot of mistakes.

My solution was to create a concept shrub area that could be hatched in these buffer areas and calculate the percentages of individual shrubs to create a standard for every 3,000 sf, just like you did in your video. I placed the plants manually, and back-calculated how many I would need so I could simply hatch any area and come up with those same ratios of plants. This way, the hatch indicates that a certain mix of species will be placed, but it does not denote exactly where they will be placed. The city was satisfied with this idea because it gave them security in the amount and types of plants we were suggesting, but also allowed us some wiggle room to adjust in the field.

2. The point system that PBG uses forces us to meticulously calculate the numbers of plants in particular areas. They are assigned points in different ways. Sometimes the height of the tree or DBH or caliper will dictate the amount of points it receives. Sometimes a particular species gets only a certain amount of points no matter what size it is. For buffer mixes, they want to see a certain density of plants placed in these areas, and the total amount of shrubs in these areas will give them a quick and dirty idea of the density without having to sit down with a calculator and figure it out manually. Having the total number of shrubs also helps me make sure that my point numbers are accurate by allowing me to quickly tally up these buffer areas when red-lining my plans.

To expand on this point system, PBG isn't the only city/municipality that requires calculations where this feature could be helpful. Nearly every municipality has a different set of codes, and often times mitigation involves the highest degree of counting trees/shrubs. For example, a code in Martin County says that for every 30lf of a lake bank I have to have both a 10ft deep littoral and upland transition area with a certain number of trees and shrubs per square foot. (The density is up to the reviewer and is not explicitly stated in their code, unfortunately.) A label with the total number of shrubs could be extremely helpful in that case.

3. The visual aspect of these labels is pretty straightforward. Sometimes it's incredibly hard to fit normal hexagonal labels in a plan without interfering with readability or design conveyance. If I were to place massive labels like the one you see on the right in my CAD screenshot on my plan, it would be absolutely bonkers busy and I would not be able to fit a lot of them anywhere without covering something else important up.

While I must admit that I don't understand why the total number of shrubs in any mix is an afterthought for anyone, the square footage of plants is even more of an afterthought for me. I can get the square footage of a hatched area by looking at its properties. I cannot get the total number of shrubs placed in a concept shrub area by doing anything simple. I have to either make one of those long labels and count them manually, or I have to export a concept schedule to excel or place it in the plan and count them manually.

Imagine a contractor looking at my buffer mix label and seeing 3,096 sf of "Buffer Mix". What are they going to do with that information? If they see Buffer Mix (230), they have a quick idea of how many plants should be in that area and/or an approximation of the cost without looking at any other information. If someone on site drops off a bunch of potted plants in one area, the contractor can look at my plan and go, oh, there should be approximately "x" number of plants here, and quickly tally the pots with their eyes and fingers. If there's only square footage in that label, they're SOL (sod out of luck). Square footage is useful for sod, because sod is sold in square feet, but shrubs are not sold nor placed in square feet in the field.
OK, I understand your situation now.

It'll take some thought on how to actually allow that in the system without overcomplicating the available options when customizing the concept plant label.
It'd have to be an option, because most people actually like the original label (the dozens of firms who helped create it). Then, it'd have to be smart enough to know to ignore that option if any of the palette plants don't have a spacing (which is possible, even if just by accident).

Would showing total area of the mix and total number of individual plants within it be helpful? I can see it being helpful for that quick visual density number you're after.

In the meantime, there are other strategies with things already in Land F/X to go as quickly as currently possible.

For Palm Beach Gardens, it sounds like they're interested in total plants in a certain area of the design.
You can use Work Areas to create schedules of all the plants and mixes in that area. Export the schedule to spreadsheet, use cell calculations to total and then link the spreadsheet back into CAD. I know you briefly mentioned this. I'm confirming it's likely an easy option available right now. We do have a wishlist item currently being worked on to add category totals to plant schedules to automate this, but at best that will be done by the end of the year. It's a huge undertaking (total plant schedule overhaul).

You can also place the larger plant labels temporarily or move them to a non-plot layer, and just use them as a reference to copy the text, paste in a spreadsheet, quickly add up all the numbers with a sum calculation and place a text label with the total beside your non-plot reference label.
10 months ago
To answer your question, yes, absolutely! Showing total area and the total number of plants within the same label would be fantastic. Best of both worlds.

I've been using excel just like you're saying, as it is less prone to manual counting mistakes.

You know, I went so far as to check out the dataextraction command and see if I could pull any numbers out of that. I was not fruitful.

Another cool feature related to all of this would be to create a custom mix like you did in the video, place a concept shrub area hatch, and then extrapolate the data within a hatch to place symbols within that new hatch area. This could be useful for another project I'm working on where I have dense buffers around a 135 acre property. I could make a 200 linear foot section of the buffer that's 10 feet deep manually, create a concept shrub area based on those placed plants, then hatch the entire length of the border and extrapolate placement of symbols. I imagine the algorithm necessary to extrapolate symbols from a concept shrub area data set and place them within that area is insanely complicated, and a pipe dream, but it would be very useful.
Yes, we've been working on that kind of mix placement tool. So far, it's turning out to be easier to engineer in Revit than AutoCAD.

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