Recommended landscape software for home use
There are so many different landscape software programs on the market it is hard to know which software to choose for home use. Different software programs have different assets and liabilities. There are even some free programs available. And some of the paid landscape software programs allow you a free trial period to check them out before your buy.
There are some impressive programs available for professional landscape design, but there is a serious learning curve that is likely to demand more time than would make sense for home use. Professional software is costly, usually well over $1000 for most programs. Programs designed for home use can be simplistic and do not have the flexibility of more elaborate programs, but they should be sufficient to help the homeowner lay out ideas for do-it yourself design.
Some free programs might give you all you need. ‘Virtual Garden Design’ is produced by the BBC and it will give you a fundamental virtual view of how your design will look, although you won’t get a full plan.
The BBC’s ‘VirtualLandscape Design’ also gets high recommendations. You can either download it or use it on the BBC website and but you will need to use another program – Adobe Shockwave — to run it properly. It’s a nice little program if you want to do some home garden designing in 3d.
‘Plan a Garden’ landscape software is a Better Homes and Gardens program that offers easy drag and drop plan so you can place plants, water features and rocks into a basic layout.
Although this is not exclusively a landscape software, Google ‘Sketch-Up’ offers a 3D modeling program that is quite impressive for a free program. It is the bare bones of a professional program with a lot of limitations, but it will afford a realistic format handy for playing around with home landscape designs.
‘Smart Draw Landscape Design Software’ has a nice paid program that most homeowners rate well. Smart Draw also offers a landscape program for free. Like most free programs, your flexibility is limited and you will have to work with the templates you are given, but you can still do a lot with this free landscape design version.
‘Design Workshop Lite’ is a free, highly simplified 3D version of the paid ‘Design Workshop Classic Home Design’ and ‘Design Workshop Professional’ softwares. You can get some basic, useful renderings, but don’t expect a lot of flexibility. Still, it’s not bad for the price.
‘Show Off ‘ is a program that takes a different approach. You start with a picture of your property and drag and drop in various features so you can try out different ideas and see how they will look. This basic program needs to be used while you are connected online directly to the Show Off site. More detailed design will require you to subscribe for their features.
‘Garden Planner 2.3′ from Artifact Interactive is an easy, wizard-driven free software that pretty much lets you click and drag elements onto your landscape format. It can be useful for working out an overview and some details of your landscape. A reasonably good software, it is free for a 15 day trial offer, and only costs around $20 to buy if you decide to buy it.
Be aware that these free and low-cost programs do not actually offer you the ability to do much drawing. But they can give you a chance to play around with locating different features in your property to help you design your property.
Look for the features you need. More is not necessarily better. And seek out software that is user-friendly. Like in all software program purchases, adequate software support and ease of use is also a priority. Since different reviewers do not necessarily agree with landscape software ratings, here is another list of software that is rated by Landscaping Software Review as the top 2010 top ten list. These are not free landscape software programs but they range from about $20 to $90. This is list starts with the highest on their ratings list.
Realtime Landscaping PLUS
Landscape Deck & Patio
Home & Landscape Design
Landscaping & Deck Designer
HGTV Home & Landscape Platinum Suite
Total 3D Home, Landscape & Deck
Turbo FLOORPLAN Landscape & Deck
3D Home Architect Home & Landscape Deluxe Suite
3D Landscape Design for Everyone
Some other landscape software programs for home use that are under $100 and have gotten high reviews are ‘LandDesigner 3D’, ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, ‘Punch Super Home’, and ‘Landscape and Garden Designer’. Most of these have a free trial period to check them out first and see if you like them.
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