OK
In progress indicator

Garden Planner General Help Manual

Getting Started

Garden Layout is a tool that lets you easily design your dream garden or recreate your existing garden. You can arrange plants, trees, buildings and objects using an easy to use 'drag and drop' interface. Then produce a high quality colour print out of your design.

When you first start Garden Layout you will see a welcome message, click the 'Start with a New Plan' button and then you are ready to start designing your garden plan. You can also choose to watch an introductory demonstration to become more familiar with the garden design tool.

To associate the plants in your 'Plants I have' list to plant shapes you must first drag and drop your chosen plant icon onto the design grid. Click the plant shape to open the properties menu (see explanation below) and associate it to a plant in your plants list. Once this is done it your named plant shape will also appear in your 'Plants I have' list in the drop down menu of the objects (see explanation below).

Overview

Garden Layout is made up of six main parts;

(1) the Menu:

at the very top of the application are the menu options.

This works like a menu in any Windows application, just click on any menu item and a list of options appears below. For example this Help Manual can be accessed from the Help menu item.

(2) the Toolbar:

below the menu is the tool bar, which is a row of buttons that allow you to quickly perform common actions.

Here's what each button does;

New Plan: create a new Garden Plan, when you click this a message box will appear asking you to confirm that you want to create a new plan (NB: creating a new plan will erase your existing plan)

Save your Plan: save your garden plan.

Print: print your plan. Clicking this button opens the print dialog box, which lets you set your printing preferences and then print your plan.

Zoom In: enlarges your plan. You can also change the scale of your plan with the Zoom option from the View menu.

Zoom Out: reduces the scale of your plan.

Select: this sets the way in which objects on the plan can be moved and modified. Either the Select, Scale or Rotate button can be selected to determine how objects can be moved or modified. With the Select button selected, objects on the plan can be moved but not scaled or rotated. (see selecting multiple objects below for details on selecting more than one object)

Scale: With the Scale button selected objects on the plan can be scaled (i.e.: you can change their size) but not moved.

Rotate: With the Rotate button selected objects on the plan can be rotated but not moved.

Rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise: rotates the currently selected object 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

Rotate 90 degrees clockwise: rotates the currently selected object 90 degrees clockwise.

Duplicate: duplicates the currently selected object on the plan. If no object is currently selected then this does nothing.

Delete: deletes the currently selected object. If no object is currently selected then this does nothing.

Care calendar: if you have associated the plants in your list to plant shapes in your plan you can click the care calendar button to see what care is required by month.

Publish: Click this to share your garden and the associated garden design plan with other Shoot members and visitors to the site.

(3) the Objects Panel:

on the left side of the application are the Objects and Tools Panels. You can view the objects panel by clicking on the objects tab. When you first start Garden Layout the objects panel should already be visible.

The Objects Panel is where you find all the plants and other garden objects that you use to create your plan.

Simply drag and drop objects from the panel onto the grid to start creating your garden plan. The objects are organised into a number of categories to make it faster and simpler to find specific objects. When you start Garden Layout the Shrubs category is selected.

You can change the category by clicking on the menu at the top of the Objects Panel and selecting a different category from the menu.

The large arrows at the top and bottom of the Objects Panel allow you to scroll through the objects.

My Plants: In order for your chosen shapes to appear here, please first drag and drop your chosen plants shapes onto the grid. Associate any plants in your list to the plant shapes using the properties panel. Then your plants will appear in My Plants ready to resuse later in your plan.

(4) the Tools Panel:

on the left side of the application are the Objects and Tools Panels. You can view the Tools Panel by clicking on the tools tab.

The Tools Panel is where you will find a number of tools designed to help you in creating your garden plan. Most tools work in the same basic way. You select either a straight line or a curved line from the buttons at the bottom of each tool, you then click on the plan to start drawing the line/s.

When drawing straight lines click once on the grid to start the line. Click again to draw another line extending from the first line. Double click to end the line.

or when drawing curved lines click on the grid and hold the mouse button down. Move the mouse to draw the line. Release the mouse button to stop drawing.

The large arrows at the top and bottom of the Tools Panel allow you to scroll through the tools.

Let's look at each tool in detail:

Draw lines: this tool lets you draw lines on the plan.
Select the straight line button to draw straight lines. The lines will snap to the grid lines to make it easier to create uniformed shapes (this setting can be disabled under the advanced settings). The curved and squiggle line buttons let you draw freehand lines on the plan. If you have the curved line button selected then Garden Layout will attempt to subtly smooth out or straighten your lines.

Draw shapes: this tool lets you draw filled shapes on the plan. Draw a shape on the plan. When you have finished drawing the tool will fill the shape with a solid colour. This colour may be changed by selecting the shape you created and changing the colour using the properties panel.

Shade area: Allows you to make a record of where the shady areas of your garden

Fence builder: this tool will create a fence or wall on the plan. Draw a line as you would with the lines tool. When you finish the line the tool will convert the line to a fence or wall. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of fence or wall you wish to create. The colour of the fence may be changed using the properties panel.

Hoses: Allows you to map out your irrigation system onto your garden plan

Paving builder: this tool will create a section of paving on the plan. Draw a shape as you would using the shapes tool. When you finish the shape the tool will convert the shape to a section of paving. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of paving you wish to create. The colours of the paving may be changed using the properties panel.

Path builder: this tool will create a path on the plan. Draw a line as you would with the lines tool. When you finish the line the tool will convert the line to a path. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of path you wish to create. The colour of the path may be changed using the properties panel.

Edge builder: this tool will create a garden bed edge on the plan. Draw a line as you would with the lines tool. When you finish the line the tool will convert the line to an edge. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of edge you wish to create. The colour of the edge may be changed using the properties panel.

Label builder: this tool lets you drag and drop either a small or large label onto the plan. Click either the small T or large T button. This will create a label that you can drop onto the plan like you would with any other object. You can set the text for the label by changing the labels description property in the properties panel.

String of lights: this tool lets you draw a string of party lights. Draw a line as you would with the lines tool. When you finish the line the tool will convert the line to a string of lights. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of lights. The colour of the lights may be changed using the properties panel. This tool can be useful if you're planning a garden layout for a party or for the holidays.

Vine and Ivy: this tool allows you to draw vines on your plan. Draw a line as you would with the lines tool. When you finish the line the tool will convert the line to a vine. Use the small arrows next to the words style selection to choose the style of vine you wish to create. The colour of the vine may be changed using the properties panel.

Gravels and stones: Add shapes which represent different hard landscaping choices.

Textured shapes: Add shapes using a range of different textures

Hedge builder: An easy way to add a hedge to your garden plan

Measurement lines: Measure or indicate length using this measurement tool.

(5) the Grid:

this is where you create your plan. Simply drag objects from the Objects Panel and drop them onto the grid to create your plan. The size of the grid can be changed from the Grid Settings option under the Settings menu. If the size of the grid is larger than your application window then scroll bars will appear to allow you to access the full grid.

(6) the Properties Panel:

when you first start Garden Layout the Properties Panel is not visible, it will appear when you select an object on the grid.

The Properties Panel shows the properties for the currently selected object. If no object is selected then the Properties Panel is hidden.

You can move the Properties Panel by clicking and dragging the top edge of the panel. You can move the panel anywhere, which can be useful when building large plans.

Let's look at the different sections of the Properties Panel:

Height and width: the text boxes labelled height and width display the height and width of the currently selected object. By default these values are shown in US measurements (feet and inches), however you can easily change this to metric measurements from the default settings option under the settings menu. Typing a new value into these text boxes will resize the selected object to that value.

Rotate: the text box labelled rotate displays the rotation of the currently selected object. The rotation is displayed in degrees. Increasing the rotation value will rotate the object clockwise. The graphic below the rotation text box shows the rotation represented as a line, similar to a compass needle egg: if the rotation is 90 degrees then the line will point to the right.

Title: the text box labelled Title displays the title or name for the currently selected object. Each object that you add to your plan has a default title which you can change to anything you want.

Description: the text box labelled Description displays the description for the currently selected object. The Description text box allows you to add extra details about the object that can't fit within the title. For example: you may wish to include a plants full botanical name or planting details in the description. While the title is limited to one line, the description can be as many lines and as long as you want. A default description is included for each object which is often the same as the title.

The Colour panel: the colour panel lets you change the colour of the currently selected object. Click the coloured square to display the colour panel (as shown). The colour panel is made up of two tabbed views:

The palette view  which lets you select the colour from a palette of different colours. Just click on a coloured square in the palette to change to that colour.

And the slider view  which lets you set the colour with three sliders or text fields. The sliders let you adjust the amount of red, blue and green that make up the colour. For example: dragging the blue slider to the left will increase the amount of blue in the colour. Play around with the sliders and you should quickly get a feel for how they affect the resultant colour. The numbers to the right of the sliders represent the red, blue and green values as a number between 255 and 0. You can enter numbers into these text boxes instead of using the sliders for a more precise adjustment of the colour. When using the slider view you need to click the OK button to set the new colour and close the colour panel

If you wish to close the colour panel without changing the colour, just click on the coloured square.

If the currently selected object has flowers (egg: a flowering shrub) then a second coloured square will be visible, allowing you to use another colour panel to adjust the colour of the flowers separate to the colour of the plant.

Saving your Plan

To save your garden plan click on the save button on the toolbar or choose Save Plan from the File menu. Garden Layout plans are saved with the file extension gml.

Printing

To print your garden plan click on the printer button on the toolbar or choose Print... from the file menu. This will open the print dialog box, which lets you set your printing preferences and then print your plan. The print dialog box lets you set a number of options that affect how you printed plan will appear. Let's take a look at these options:

Title: this is the title for your plan, which will appear at the top of your print out.

Print plan in landscape format: if this option is selected your plan will be printed in landscape format. This can be useful if your plan's width is greater than its height. By default this option is unchecked and plans are printed in standard portrait format.

Scale plan to fill page: if this option is selected your plan will be scaled to fill the print-out page. If it is unselected the entire contents of the grid will be printed including blank areas on the grid.

Report: you can choose if you want to include the report with the print out of your plan. The report lists the plants and objects that make up your garden plan. Plants/objects that have the show in report checkbox un-selected will not be listed in the report.

You can also select if you wish to show numbers next to the objects on your plan, which makes it easy to associate objects on the plan with their details in the report.

You may also choose to count duplicate plants/objects. This means that the report will not list the same object more than once, but instead count how many times that object occurs. Note: Plants/Objects are considered the same if they have the same title.

Object Outlines: this setting lets you to determine if you show the full object on the plan or just an outline. This setting is particularly useful if you have large trees on your plan and you want to see plants that are under the trees.

Generate Report

To generate a report for your plan choose Generate Report from the File menu. The report is a numbered list of every plant/object on your garden plan. The report lists the title, size and description for everything on your plan, which can be a useful list to use when shopping for plants for your garden. You can save the report by clicking the report's save button which allows you to save the report as a text file which can be opened in a text editor or word processor.

The View Menu

The view menu contains options for adjusting the view of your plan.

View Objects: this shows the objects panel. The objects panel can also be shown by clicking on the objects tab.
View Tools: this shows the tools panel. The tools panel can also be shown by clicking on the tools tab.
Zoom: The zoom... option allows you to set the magnification of the plan as a percentage. For example setting it to 200% will double the size of the plan.
Show/Hide Grid: The show/hide grid option toggles the display of the grid on/off.

The Settings Menu

The settings menu contains options for adjusting the settings used by Garden Layout.

General Settings: The general settings option allows you to change the main settings used by Garden Layout. You can specify if object measurements should be in US feet/inches or metric units.
You can also specify if you want to be warned before deleting an object, which means asked to confirm before you delete an object on your plan.

You can amend whether you see your plants by Botanical name or common English name.

Normally the properties panel is hidden until you select an object, with this option checked the properties panel will remain hidden even when you select an object, which can be useful when laying out your plan as the panel doesn't obscure your design.

Grid Settings: The grid settings option allows you to change the settings for the grid. You can set the size of the grid, as well as the size of the actual grid squares (i.e.: how far apart the lines are).

You can also specify if objects 'snap' to the grid lines. If you check this option then the centre of objects will always line up with grid lines.

You can also specify if lines created with tools 'snap' to the grid lines. With this option checked the start and end of lines will 'snap' to the grid lines which makes it a lot easier to draw lines that are perpendicular to each other and hence makes drawing squares and rectangles easier. This option is checked by default.
When you start Garden Layout the grid is set to be the same size as the application. However if this isn't large enough for your garden you can resize it to any size you wish. If you make the grid larger than the available space then scroll bars will allow you to access the complete grid.

Object Outline Settings: The object outline settings.... option allows you to change how objects are displayed, allowing you to determine if you show the full object or just an outline. This setting is particularly useful if you have large trees on your plan and you want to see plants that are under the trees. This works in the same way as the equivalent print option.

The Undo Menu

The undo menu lets you undo the last significant change you made to the plan. For example: if you just changed the color of a tree, then the undo menu will provide you with the option to 'undo change object's color'. In this instance choosing to the undo option will return the tree to it's original color.
In Garden Layout the following actions can be undone: adding an object, deleting an object, changing the size, rotation or position of an object, changing an objects color and creating a new object using a tool.
When you start a new plan or open a new plan all undo steps are cleared.

The Selected Object Menu

The selected object menu allows you to access options for the currently selected object. If no object is currently selected then the menu will not function and will appear 'greyed out'. To enable the menu just select (click on) any object on the grid.

Duplicate: this duplicates the currently selected object on the plan. This is the same as pressing the duplicate button on the toolbar.

Delete: this deletes the currently selected object on the plan. This is the same as pressing the delete button on the toolbar.

Bring to front: this affects the stacking order (depth) of the currently selected object. Choosing this option moves the object to the top off all objects on the plan, irrespective of the type of object. For more information see the tutorial: changing the stacking order of objects at the end of this document.

Bring forward: this also affects the stacking order (depth) of the currently selected object. Choosing this option moves the object to the top off similar objects on the plan. For example: if a shrub is selected and you choose this option, the shrub will appear on top of all other shrubs but still beneath trees. For more information see the tutorial: changing the stacking order of objects at the end of this document.

Send backward: this also affects the stacking order (depth) of the currently selected object. Choosing this option moves the object to the bottom off similar objects on the plan. For example: if a shrub is selected and you choose this option, the shrub will appear below all other shrubs but still above garden beds. For more information see the tutorial: changing the stacking order of objects at the end of this document.

Send to back: this also affects the stacking order (depth) of the currently selected object. Choosing this option moves the object to the bottom off all objects on the plan, irrespective of the type of object. For more information see the tutorial: changing the stacking order of objects at the end of this document.
Add to My Objects: this adds the currently selected object to the My Objects category of the Objects Panel. For more information on creating custom objects see the Tutorial : how to use My Objects at the end of this document.

Select All: this selects all the objects in the plan. It is recomended that you select one object first before choosing select all. With all objects selected you can then move all the objects together or duplicate al the objects or delete all the objects.

The Help Menu

The help menu contains help and program information for Garden Layout.

Animated Introduction: The animated introduction provides a short animated introduction to Garden Layout which gives an overview of working with the application. Press the play button to start and the stop to return to the beginning of the animation.

Selecting Multiple Objects

You can select more than one object at the same time by holding down the Ctrl key while you click on the object to select it. When you select multiple objects the properties pannel will change to show that you have selected multiple objects. It will display keys that let you move all the objects together. Alternatively you can use the keyboard to arrow keys to move the selected group of objects. You can move, duplicate and delete multiple objects at the same time. However you can not rotate, resize or convert multiple objects into a single custom object (although we may introduce this feature in the future).

Appendix A : Keyboard shortcuts

Delete key deletes the currently selected object
left arrow moves the currently selected object a small amount (2 pixels) to the left
right arrow moves the currently selected object a small amount to the right
up arrow moves the currently selected object up a small amount
down arrow moves the currently selected object down a small amount