Working with base plans in dwg format

As a base for their design work, landscape designers commonly need to work with drawings from architects and surveyors. Each software application used by an architect or survey firm will have its own proprietary file format. You may be offered base drawings with different file extensions. The most common are AutoCAD files which have the extension dwg, Another application used by survey firms called MicroStation files has the extension dgn, but it can  export dwg files. This paper describes recommended methods to get base data into GardenCAD when the file format is dwg.


Almost all software applications used by architects and others can save a version of their base plan in a format called  DXF (Drawing Exchange Format). The DXF was designed to be software independent and work as a file exchange format. GardenCAD allows the insertion of DXF files into the drawing editor via File>Import DXF so that mechanism offers a way to get your base data and saving significant time on a job.

What's the best way to get a DXF file?

Although you can ask your architect or survey firm to supply a DXF version of their plan, we recommend using a free software application to convert a dwg file into a DXF file. If you do it yourself, the dwg file sent by the architect/survey firm stays untouched and you will have control over the form of the DXF file. Importing into GardenCAD will be much smoother for a number of reasons:

  • You have control over the type of DXF file - there are two different forms of DXF and your consultant may give you the wrong one.
  • Later versions of AutoCAD and MicroStation store all sorts of extra information in the dwg file. Carrying this extra information (referred to as bloat) will slow your copy of GardenCAD down. Stripping a dwg file down to the important base components only, makes for quick convenient drafting in the GardenCAD environment. 
Using Teigha File Converter

This free Windows application is used to convert a dwg file to a DXF file. It is highly recommended. Download this tool from this link ( and install it.


Once installed, the application can be run any time you receive a base plan in dwg form from a consultant and used to make a DXF version that GardenCAD can read.

To do that, start a new GardenCAD drawing, and use File > Import DXF.

The figure below shows an example.

Load DXF

DXF movieMovieHere is a small movie showing how to set the File Converter up (a once only task) and use it to convert files from dwg to DXF.