Landscape drafting symbols in Inkscape

Thu 01 August 2013

I've put a lot of perennials in my yard's landscape, and like to keep track of them all in case I want to add or replace any plants. I used to have a sketch on paper, but that's too old fashioned and hard to maintain. I'm also too cheap to buy any real drafting or landscaping software, so I started experimenting with Inkscape. It may not be ideal for true scale drafting, but it works for the simple purpose of sketching and cataloging my plants.

However, there seems to be a lack of any free SVG-format symbols for things like trees, shrubs, etc., so I had to draw my own.

I'm no landscape designer, so I don't know if these are the proper symbols for anything, but they work for me. My small collection of symbols can be downloaded here. Following are instructions on how I drew the symbols.

Shrub (star style)

The first symbol is a shrub that looks like a star. Start by drawing a straight vertical line. You can make it green if you like.


Now, duplicate the line by selecting it and hitting Ctrl-D. The duplicate is placed exactly on top of the first line. We need to rotate the duplicate by choosing Transform from the Object menu. Over in the tool settings pane, select the Rotate tab and enter an angle. Some integer division of 360 works best, something like 18 degrees to get 20 "branches". Hit Apply to rotate the branch.


Now just keep going. The new line is already selected so repeatedly hit Ctrl-D, then Apply until you have a full circle.

Star Star

Shrub - "Bumpy"

For this one, start with a small circle.


Next, make sure the circle is selected and then choose the Spray Objects tool that looks like this Spray Tool. In the toolbar, select the Single Path mode. You can experiment with the other settings, but I had good results using Width=18, Amount=7, Scale=9, Scatter=1. Click somewhere else to "spray" the small circle around. The orange circle is the brush-cursor.


Keep spraying until it looks like a bush!


Then you can remove the original small circle, and merge all the small circles together.

Tree 1

For this tree symbol, start by drawing a large circle. Select the circle and choose the Path menu, Object-to-path. Then select the Edit Paths by Node tool which looks like this Node tool. Double-click somewhere on the circumference of the circle to create a node, which will appear as a red dot.


Add two more nodes to get three next to each other, like this.


Now click and drag the center node into the circle to make a dent.


You can also pull the little open-circle handles to twist the dent a bit like this:


Keep going around the circle, adding dents until it looks like a tree. I also added a + in the center to mark the trunk.


Tree 2

This one's my favorite, and also the easiest. Select the Star/Polygon tool that looks like star tool. In the toolbar, select "star" mode. Now adjust the other parameters so there's a number of Corners (like 16 shown here), Spoke Ratio is something close to 1, like 0.8, the Rounded parameter something like 0.2, and the Randomized is not zero (0.08 in this case). Then just draw a tree! Play with the parameters to get all kinds of different tree/shrub shapes.


You can download a zip file of all these designs and some other variations in Inkscape SVG format from this link. After putting these together, I was able to get a pretty decent Inkscape drawing of my yard!


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