June 18

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Best Landscape Design Software Reviews

By Anton Schwarz

The Lawn Care Guy

June 18, 2020


The right landscape design software allows you to visualize your design. It also allows you to play around with different ideas. This tool is a must-have if you want to start a landscaping business. However, the best options can be expensive and complex. Free versions have limited features.

There are plenty of options out there, so doing some research can help you find the best software that fits your needs and budget. User reviews can give you a better idea about the product, such as how user-friendly and compatible it is with your device.

You should also consider your skills. Do you prefer programs with a minimal learning curve, or do you want a feature-packed option? Consider what you’re capable of and what you’re willing to learn, thereby helping you in narrowing down all options.

Another factor to consider is your budget. If it’s just a one-time landscaping project, you can go for the low to mid-range options. If you have a lot of landscaping projects or you want to open a landscaping business, you should choose a feature-packed program that allows you to do complex designs.

Should You Get Your Own Landscape Design Software?

Perhaps you find it easier to draw something to explain what you have in mind than to speak out loud. With the right landscape design software, you can create stunning designs and scenarios easily and quickly. This tool helps you see what your design would look like and explain your ideas to your contractor.

It will help you get the results you want and avoid misunderstandings as well. Landscape design software is not mandatory, but it is certainly useful. You should consider getting one if you are going to accept big landscaping projects.

Landscape design software is expensive, so it is not ideal for those who are on a tight budget and simply want to trim a few hedges and plant a tree or two. If your landscape project requires a lot of planning or you want to redecorate your garden completely, you should consider getting your own landscape design software.

Some software options are more complex than others, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to use them. You only need to choose one that provides a lot of instructions, tools, and in-software guidance. It is easier to learn and master a tool when you have a guide.

Watching tutorials on YouTube is time-consuming. When you have the right guide, it’s easier to learn something new. In other words, learning how to use landscape design software is not impossible. It all depends on your willingness to learn.

What is the Best Program for Landscape Design?

Here are some of the best programs for landscape design. See which programs are compatible with your device.

  • Virtual Architect Home & Landscape Platinum Suite 8.0

Virtual Architect Home & Landscape Platinum Suite comes with step-by-step instructions, so it’s perfect for beginners who want to work on their landscaping design as it eliminates the learning curve. It is compatible with Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10. It has a solid interface, which can guide you throughout your project.

The software provides specific guidelines and directions that will tell you what you need to do in order to complete your design. The Platinum Suite features a Tutor box that pops up when you click on new tools.

Some specific directions as well as guidelines will explain what the steps imply and the things needed in moving forward. The “Tutor” box will accessibly pop up when you click the tool in helping you understand the meaning. The software has 3D and 2D modes that have a drop and drop function. The viewing mode allows you to visualize what your landscape would look like in various seasons.

The software’s drag and drop feature allows you to make changes to your design easily and quickly. The Platinum Suite also allows you to upload photos. You only need to place your desired items on your current setup to see what the final result would look like.

The Platinum Suite doesn’t offer the same realism as other high-end software because of its less detailed graphics. However, the software library contains over 7,500 items. You can play around with various flowers, plant, and trees. You can also view what the landscape would look like twenty years from now on.

Cons

  • No trial and Mac version
  • Doesn’t have the same realism as high-end software
  • Chief Architect Premier Professional Home Design Software

Chief Architect Premier Professional Home Design Software is perfect for professional designers who need high-end exterior and interior design software. It works with Windows 64-bit 10, 7, and 8, as well as Mac Sierra, Mojave, and High Sierra. It is equipped with 3D virtual tools as well as manual and automatic building tools. The library contains 4,000 plants, so you have a lot of botanical elements to choose from.

The software’s comprehensive modeling and design tools allow you to check out your project from different angles. It provides 3D virtual tours, allowing you to get a clear view of the state of your project. The software is equipped with CAD tools, so it is also suitable for architects. It comes with terrain modeling tools as well. The software is time-consuming and complicated to master and feature-packed, so it may not be suitable for those who don’t have the time or patience to learn such software.

Chief Architect Premier Professional Home Design Software is quite expensive, but it has a rental version. If you want to save some money, you can take advantage of this offer. You can also try the trial version to see if it’s the right software for you.

Cons

  • Time-consuming to master for average homeowners
  • Expensive
  • Chief Architect Home Designer Suite 2019

Chief Architect Home Designer Suite 2019 is compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10, as well as Mac OS X. It is a versatile and item-packed program that allows users to change their home’s landscape completely. The software allows you to add various topography elements like staircases, elaborate decks, outdoor light fixtures, hills, fences, patio furniture, and water.

You can plan the surroundings for your swimming pool or add plants to create a beautiful garden. Chief Architect Home Designer Suite 2019 is ideal for those who don’t mind using complex landscaping software. You can use it to create a unique design for your home’s exterior and interior. The software also comes with a price estimator and 3D mode. Check out the trial version and see for yourself what it looks like.

Cons

  • Lengthy learning curve
  • Punch! Landscape Deck & Patio 19

Punch! Landscape Deck & Patio 19 comes with a wide range of templates and price estimator. It works with Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 and Mac. The quick start function allows you to make a replica of your home. The software also features a Fence Designer and Pool Designer. You can either choose from the templates available or create your own design from scratch.

If you want to know the exact cost of your project, you just need to input the price of an item, and the software will compute everything based on the measurements of every element included. Punch! Landscape Deck & Patio also features a detailed final view. The software allows you to see the shadow cast by every item added to the landscape, allowing you to visualize the final result of your project.

Cons

  • No trial version
  • No search feature
  • Punch! Home & Landscape Design Premium v19

Punch! Home & Landscape Design Premium v19 is perfect for DIY enthusiasts who want to create their own interior and landscaping design. It’s also ideal for those who don’t mind taking the time to learn all the functions and features of the software.

Punch! Home & Landscape Design Premium v19 works with Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. It is also compatible with Mac. The software has a lot of detailed features, including a library that contains 4,000 plants. You can also choose from various templates, so you don’t need to start from scratch.

The interface is complex, so there’s some learning curve involved. There are a lot of tutorials on the product’s official website. As long as you are patient, you will learn how to use the software. The picture icons are easy to remember, so they’re very helpful during the learning process. The software also offers several visualization modes, including an aerial view, 3D and 2D modes as well as a virtual walkthrough.

Cons

  • Extensive learning curve
  • No trial version
  • Doesn’t have a search feature
  • Realtime Landscaping Plus

Realtime Landscaping Plus is affordable and use-friendly because of its drag and drops function. It has a trial version as well. The software is compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and Vista. The topography builder allows you to adjust the elevation and layout of your design. You can also play around with the size and colors of the objects.

The software’s library contains over 10,000 items and plants. Each item can be modified. You can also import Google Maps photos and addresses and combine them with objects from the library. The software allows you to view projects in 3D mode and traditional grip layout.

You can also watch the walkthrough preview of your design. Realtime Landscaping Plus allows you to create and share videos of your landscapes. The software is perfect for those who are not tech-savvy.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a Mac version
  • Total 3D Home, Landscape & Deck Premium Suite 12

Total 3D Home, Landscape & Deck Premium Suite 12 is ideal for those who want to design their home’s interior and landscape. It is equipped with tools for pools, fountains, outdoor furniture, patios, and decks. The software library contains over 4,500 plants.

It also allows you to play around with sprinkler heads, valves, and pipes, so you can see what your irrigation system would look like. The software features a blueprint generator, 3D mode as well as sunset and sunrise simulations. It is compatible with the newest Windows XP series or 7, 8, and 10.

Cons:

  • No trial version
  • No Mac version
  • Total 3D Landscape & Deck Deluxe

Total 3D Landscape & Deck Deluxe can be used by homeowners and professional designers. It’s the landscape only version of the Total 3D Home, Landscape & Deck Premium Suite 12. The software is compatible with Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10 and comes with video tutorials as well.

You can choose from the pre-designed plans in the software library or create your design from scratch. The software also allows you to import digital photos.

Cons

  • No software version for Mac
  • No trial version

What is the Best Free Landscape Design Software?

When choosing the best free landscape design software, ask yourself how often you’re going to use the program. Are you tech-savvy, or do you prefer a program with user-friendly features? Do you want to create complex designs? Perhaps you’re just going to use the software to layout your project. These questions will help you narrow down your choices. 

One of the best free landscape design software is DreamPlan Home Design. It’s suitable for both landscaping and interior design. The software allows you to import 3D models and customize the terrain surrounding your house. It also allows you to add elements like pools, so you can see what your outdoor space would look like. The software is user-friendly because of its clean interface.

SketchUp Pro is another free option. It allows you to draw your design and save your data to the cloud. The software involves some learning curve because of its powerful tools. SketchUp Pro allows you to work in 3D and 2D modes. It also works with all major browsers.

You can also consider Gardena Garden Planner. It has a menu that contains all the tools you need to draw your garden. You can also add various elements such as your house, vehicles, sprinkler system, plants, and outdoor furniture.  The online software comes with pre-drawn items that can be rotated, moved, enhanced, or shrunk.

Gardena Garden Planner includes a wide range of templates, so you don’t need to start from scratch. The software also allows you to add outdoor lighting, ponds, barbecue, and pools. Gardena Garden Planner is perfect for those who want to design their garden, but don’t want to download programs on their PC.

Is There a Free App for Landscape Design?

Yes. There are free apps for landscape design, such as iScape. You only need to use your phone to click and drag various garden features to see what your design would look like. It is available for iPad and iPhone. iScape can also help you buy the items you need through its partners. Thanks to the app’s sharing feature, you can collaborate with your contractor on your project.

Using free apps is a great way to visualize your design in 3D. Just remember that free apps won’t be as comprehensive as paid software. However, these apps still offer a wide range of actions and items that can help you create the perfect landscape design. You can also consider using the trial version of landscape software programs to get an idea about its features.

Conclusion

The most expensive software might not be the best option for you. That is why you should consider various factors when choosing landscape software, such as how often you’re going to redecorate and how involved you will be in your landscaping project.

 If you don’t mind spending a lot of money, you should pick one of the more feature-packed options listed here. These programs will allow you to experiment with various garden-related items and preview modes.

Anton Schwarz

About the author

Lawn care advocate for over 10 years helping brands such as Toro, Craftsman, Tru Green, and more by helping them with their marketing. I've been in the lawn care industry all my life.

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