The last time I did any reviews on landscaping software, there really were no free options to speak of. Or maybe I just didn’t look hard enough.Â Either way, there’s still not much free software in the landscaping areaÂ to speak of.Â However, I was able to dig upÂ a few options.
This page isn’t actually a review. Although IÂ might haveÂ my opinion, I like to think of this more as justÂ a list. Some landscaping programsÂ are good, some areÂ not so good. These are just the free softwareÂ optionsÂ I found out thereÂ worth mentioning.
Of course, there are quite a few paid landscape designÂ programs available. And someÂ that let you try before you buy. Even the software that I useÂ from lsisoft has aÂ 30 day trial download ($6??.00 to buy)Â if you’re so inclined to spend time checking any of these out.Â If you want to know more about paid programs.
Using some of these might help you understand how gardenÂ design softwareÂ can be used asÂ a visualizing tool and that it doesn’t actuallyÂ create the design for you. This is where most people get frustrated with usingÂ CAD software.Â
Many of the freeÂ applicationsÂ and programs listed on this page are oftenÂ good enough for some. All the bells, whistles, and drawing tools in paid landscapingÂ programsÂ are often a distractionÂ for the average do it yourselfer.
While professional and paid software programs have a lot of great tools and features, they’re also complicated and have a learning curve. For the average do it yourself typeÂ who isÂ only going to create one design, this is generallyÂ impractical and a waste of money.
As a do it yourselfer, you don’t need software to draw your design. You can easily draw your design on paper later. What you need are tools to help you visualize and these free tools are good enough for that. If you need a program to draw with, you can mostÂ probably find one at Free Drawing And CAD SoftwareÂ .
- Virtual Garden Designer
This is a totally free piece of software that you can either download or use on their site. It requires Adobe Shockwave to run it.
While this is a basic program, it’s actually pretty good for visualizing and is very easy to use. It reminds me of the paid program 3Donline which in my opinion isn’t good enough to ask money for. Funny how we think, isn’t it. If it’s free, it’s o.k.. If you have to pay for it, it’s cheezy. Anyway…..I don’t think I would call this cheezy at even a small price.
This program is a drag and drop thatÂ lets you design from a top view and view in a perspective 3d mode. You’re not actually able to draw with this or any of the software named on this page. That’s o.k. for now since we’re trying to visualize and get ideas and not trying to complicate things by having to learn a program.
- BHG Plan A Garden
Great site with a lot of great ideas. Hey, it’s BHG. You do have to sign up for free membership to use the design program.
Again, here’s another basic program. Really basic. You could doÂ close by creating a bubble graphÂ in microsoft paint. It’s a simple drag and drop program that doesn’t have much functionality. Â StillÂ o.k. for visualizing and it doesn’t cost anything.
For BHG I’m a little disappointed but I guess they make up for it in other areas. They do have the most impressive collection of Free Garden Plans I’ve found online. And since you’re a member there now anyway, you might as well see if some of them will work for you. See BHG garden plans.
For free, this actually is aÂ very easyÂ piece of software to use. First, I downloaded it without having to give an email address. I like that. I don’t care to be on any more lists.Â
This one allows youÂ to import a picture ofÂ your yard and drag and drop elements and plants into it. And the whole process was very easy to understand and do. Resizing pictures to proportion and changing angles was also very easy.
Now, I’m trying to be open minded as I don’t care for this way of designing. My own software has the ability but I just never got comfortable with it. A plus, if you can visualize, is that it is easy. A neg is that you’re still going to have to figure out and draw scale. That isÂ if you’re actuallyÂ going to figure materials and create a plan.
What you’llÂ find is that many of the images aren’t availabeÂ unless youÂ upgrade. Listen, you don’t need the upgrade. If you can’t visualize with what they give you, do you think that one plant will help? And do you think the program will actually have the exact elements you need? Probably not.
Another way this site and software make money is by offering you the elements you place in the design. Ain’t nothing wrong with trying to make a buck. But again, you’re trying to save money here. There are better avenues for your elements.
Just use the free version.
- Smart Draw
I’ve had this software for a while. To me it was a good investment because I use it for other things. I’ve designed with it a few times but generally rely on my professional software for landscaping plans.
They offer a free 30 dayÂ trial version. I see the free trial version like this. If you can design your yard in less than 30 days, You don’t need to buy it.
- Google Sketchup
Don’t forget this. It may or may not work for your purpose. It’s free.
- Design Workshop Lite
I haven’t used this one yet so I can’t really say. It looked possibly promising and is free. If you use it for your landscape design, leave a comment below.
- Chief Architect
I haven’t used this one either and was a bit undecided whether I wanted to mention it or not. But then…why not? It might just be the ticket for some folks. It’s actually a fairly good piece of software that a few higher end programs are based on.
- Drawing and CAD Tools
Just thought I would mention this one more time.
I hope this helps.