By Eric Gilbey, PLA ASLA, Prof. APLD, Landscape Architecture Industry Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks
When designers seek to improve their workflows, they sometimes think it requires a time-consuming overhaul of their existing processes. That simply isn’t true. Shortening the time it takes to complete your usual tasks can be as easy as using different tools to accomplish the same actions. That’s why this Landscape Lesson focuses on how to make a swale, one of the most basic landscape features, in just four simple steps.
Step 1: With a site model (Digital Terrain Model) and surrounding grade limits in place, select the Grade tool and place the first point where the high point of the swale will originate.
Step 2: Place the second point where the lower point in the swale will be.
Step 3: In the Grade Settings dialog box, select the Change Site Model option for the Grade Object Mode, so that the grade modifies the site model. Set the second point to Downward Grade in % at the desired slope percentage, and click OK.
Step 4: Select the site model. In the Object Info palette, update the site model with a proposed (or existing) 2D view set to see the revised grading. The new “valley” contour pattern reflects the new swale. The image below shows a completed swale on either side of the site pad.
You can place additional grade objects to create a more extensive path for your swale. Just note that each subsequent object that you place will continue from the second elevation point of the prior grade object.
Also, each grade object can be adjusted to reflect a new slope percentage. Remember to update the site model each time you adjust the slope, so that it reflects your revisions.
Look forward to my next Landscape Lesson where I’ll show you how to make berms in just a few steps, as well. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see in a Landscape Lesson, reach out to me on Twitter @EricGilbey, and you can also reach out to me for more information about creating swales. I even have a training video that I can share if you'd like to see this process in the context of a larger project.
Eric utilizes his professional experience and CAD skills to assist in the development of Vectorworks Landmark software. He currently serves as the trustee for ASLA’s Maryland Chapter and chair of ASLA's Professional Practice Committee's Firm Technology Subcommittee. Eric’s unique experience as a practicing landscape architect allows him to help landscape architects and designers develop best practices, including sustainable site design and site information modeling via new and existing user training.