Best Free Landscape Design Software Tools - 2021 Reviews
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Best Free Landscape Design Software

With a little bit of imagination and some time to spare, landscaping can turn into one of the most rewarding activities of your lifetime. There’s nothing like walking in your yard or garden and enjoying the view that was born from the depth of your imagination. It gives a sense of tremendous satisfaction, not to mention the fact that it’s a great conversation starter whenever you’re having guests over. Just by having the chance to say “I thought of this myself”, you’ll spark the interest of many. But how do you choose which one to get?

Backyard Boss Top 5 Landscape Design Software You Can Get for Free

  PRODUCT FEATURES  
DreamPlan Home Design Software - Best Free Landscape Design Software DreamPlan Home Design Software
  • Compatible With: Windows 10, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1; OS X 10.5 or above
  • 3D Mode: Yes
  • Requires Download/Install: Yes
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iScape - Best Free Landscape Design Software iScape
  • Compatible With: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 9.0 or later)
  • 3D Mode: No
  • Requires Download/Install: Yes
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SketchUp - Best Free Landscape Design Software SketchUp
  • Compatible With: All common web browsers
  • 3D Mode: Yes
  • Requires Download/Install: No
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Plan-a-Garden - Best Free Landscape Design Software Plan-a-Garden
  • Compatible With: All common web browsers
  • 3D Mode: No
  • Requires Download/Install: No
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Gardena Garden Planner - Best Free Landscape Design Software Gardena Garden Planner
  • Compatible With: All common web browsers
  • 3D Mode: No
  • Requires Download/Install: No
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A Closer Look

Landscape software can make this process a whole lot easier because it gives you the chance to sketch out your ideas. Consequently, it will be easier to share your ideas with family, friends, or professionals hired to see this landscaping job through. But since spending money on professional software is something homeowners typically want to avoid, we’ve gathered some of the best options in terms of landscaping design software that’s free of charge.

How to Choose

Examining new gadget. Confident young handsome man in suit working on digital tablet while standing against white background. Try to understand how to use new features

In the same fashion of shopping for any product, it’s always important to ask yourself some qualifying questions to figure out how to pick the one that’s best for you. Because that could be different than what’s best for someone else. So, before picking a landscape design program, ask yourself this:

  • Will I use this program more than once?
  • Do I want it simply for laying out my project or do I want more detailed designs?
  • Am I tech-savvy or should I look for a program that has a minimal learning curve?

Since we’re dealing with free software in this article, there’s no need to ask questions regarding budget (because that would be a determining factor otherwise). But with those three simple questions you should be able to figure out or at least narrow down, which program to get.

Landscaping Tips

Buildings, trees and other plants are on plan.

Of course, nothing that’s ever truly rewarding is also easy. Yes, landscaping can be a tough job, especially when you have no idea where to start. There’s a reason why decorators are making so much money: because they have constant creativity sparks, they studied to understand color and shape combinations, and they can come up with elaborate plans on how to create a dreamy scenery.

But there are homeowners that, prior to hiring a contractor, want to think out every little detail for themselves. They want to give their beautiful gardens that personal touch that characterizes every individual… and who can blame them? But, sometimes, these people have no idea where to start. Are there, perhaps, some useful landscaping tips to get them started?

What Is the Purpose of Your Yard?

The first secret lies in giving a purpose to your landscape. There will be a huge difference between a yard that’s supposed to be child-friendly and provide plenty of space for family activities, and the yard of a nature-lover and a gardening passionate, who loves to admire the most fragrant and colorful flowers and read the book in the shade of his trees. The question is: What should be the purpose of your garden?

What Objects Will You Include?

Well-thought planning place for get togethers. Nature scene of green design features.

If you are the kind of person that loves to entertain guests or feel that the best way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon is by cooking a barbecue together with the whole family, it’s important to focus on elements that facilitate such activities. A gazebo becomes almost mandatory in such a scenario, not to mention an equipped outdoor kitchen. There should also be a lounging area, perhaps even a TV, for sports fans.

The majority of homeowners want to be able to enjoy their homes both inside and out. That means that landscaping is also a matter of continuity. This translated into comfort, even as you step outside. This can be achieved through proper outdoor lighting, comfortable outdoor furniture, and perhaps even a fireplace.

Room to Grow?

People passionate about cooking and healthy living will surely want to have a vegetable garden, no matter how small. If there’s not enough space, a herb garden might be a better option. This could be located close to the kitchen entrance of the house. Aside from the obvious health benefits, herbs have amazing aromas that can be enjoyed on cool summer evenings, as you take a stroll through your garden.

Leave Room for Error

Every idea revolves around the purpose of the garden, but remember to plan realistically. If your outdoor space is limited, there are only so many elements that you can place, so plan smartly and, when needed, keep it simple.

Top 5 Landscape Design Software for Free Reviews

Because we believe in the power of landscaping software, but we’re also aware that it’s an extra expense that some of our readers aren’t willing to commit to, we’ve dug deep to find out if there are any viable software options free of charge. Here’s what we’ve discovered.

Best for Simple Planning

DreamPlan Home Design Software
    Easy planning for your landscape design with an easy-to-use interface that doesn't take a lot of technical knowledge

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DreamPlan Home Design is a software that helps you plan both your interior and your landscaping ideas. You can visualize how your garden would look like with plants and trees, but also allows you to modify the terrain surrounding the house. You can add elements such as a swimming pool, to get a better idea on how to organize your outdoor space.

If you’re aiming for a more unique design, you can also import 3D models and work with them. Because of its clean interface, DreamPlan Home Design can be used even by people who aren’t tech-savvy. The steps are intuitive, so learning how to use this software is a really fast process. While the software is free for non-commercial use, there is also a professional version that you can buy, called DreamPlan Home Design Software Plus.

Pro Tip: The free version of this software is great for people who want a basic interface that’s easy to learn and use.

Best for Mobile

iScape
    Great interface for mobile devices that can do all the same things that a desktop software can with more versatility.

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Simple, free and available for both your iPhone and your iPad: this is the best way to describe iScape. It’s a mobile software that’s available in the App Store and which allows you to create your dream garden without having to spend time learning how to use complicated tools. It gives users a glimpse of what their landscaping project would look like.

Through its partners, iScape can help you actually purchase the landscaping items you want, eliminating the hassle of having to spend hours searching for them for yourself. Through its sharing features, iScape allows you to collaborate on your project and easily forward it to your contractor, or perhaps friends (assuming you want their opinion before going forward with the project).

Pro Tip: This is a software app dedicated to users of portable Mac devices, who want a basic tool, without too many features, to help them visualize the end landscaping result before deciding to hire a contractor.

Best for 3D Modeling

SketchUp
    3D rendering software for a better look at what your yard's potential might be in a more realistic setting.

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If you’re a professional looking to test one of the most popular design tools in the world, you definitely want to try the free version of the famous SketchUp Pro. While the average home user can fiddle with SketchUp as well, the learning process could turn out to be lengthy and complicated, but it depends on how keen you are with figuring out new software.

Basically, SketchUp was created to act as an extension of your hand, helping draw whatever, whenever. You can work in both 2D and 3D models while integrating a set of very powerful tools that will seem complicated if not in the hands of an expert. You can save your drawing to the cloud, but also locally. Of course, the paid version is also an upgraded one. The web-based SketchUp lacks some features that a professional might need, like extensions and the possibility to edit or create materials.

Pro Tip: This is a web-browser-based version of the world’s most famous modeling tool, which is typically used by engineers, builders, designers, and architects.

Best for Software Assistance

Plan-a-Garden
    An online software created by the experts at Better Homes & Gardens with software assisted drawing and a large free feature library.

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If you’re looking for an incredibly simple and intuitive landscape design software, Plan-a-Garden could be a great option for you. Created by Better Homes & Gardens, the easy to use interface and wide variety of features and plants makes it a good choice for those who want an easy way to start visualizing their new yard.

Before beginning, you can upload a photo of your home and Plan-a-Garden will set it up in the application’s main window. All the tools and options are laid out in a way that makes it easy to switch between textures, structures, and plants. With a paintbrush-style applicator, you can easily add all the different features you want for your yard. The tool will even apply sizing depending on where you drop things like plants and trees so they fit the perspective. This makes it easy to get high-quality renderings, even if you don’t have much artistic talent.

Pro Tip: The paintbrush-style applicator is assisted by the software to make straight lines. You don’t have to worry too much about being accurate as the tool will straighten things out for you.

Best for Fun Planning Experience

Gardena Garden Planner
    The fun and aesthetically pleasing interface of this landscaping software makes the whole process a fun, easy to understand experience.

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Explaining the Gardena Garden Planner is a breeze, mainly because this is the simplest and cutest online landscaping app we’ve seen so far. The sketches look like a drawing, making it super fun to use the app. There is a menu with all the tools needed to draw your garden, but also options to add your house, outdoor furniture, plants and more.

You can easily draw your garden with the integrated plot surfaces feature. There are pre-drawn items to choose from, and each of these items can be enhanced, shrunk, rotated and moved, to the delight of the planner. A very cool feature is the fact that you can add your own sprinkler system, helping you plan out a watering pattern to keep your lawn and plants green and healthy. There’s a number of templates you can choose from, in case you’re not sure where to start your project.
You can play around with ponds and pools, leisure items like barbecues, outdoor lighting, and you can even add vehicles, to plan every square inch of space available.

Pro Tip: This online software is a great tool for people who want a quick way to plan their garden but want to avoid downloading programs on their computer or having to browse through thousands of items. This is simplicity at its finest.

Our Free Landscaping Software Verdict

The first thing to keep in mind is that landscape design software that’s available for free will rarely be as complex or have a full item library. However, most of the world’s best landscaping software also has a trial version for users that would like to give the program a spin before spending money on it. While you can’t expect to have all the features of paid software in a free app, there is still a generous number of items and actions that can help you plan your landscape.

If you’ve never used landscaping software before, or are looking for something that’s simple and easy to use, make sure you steer clear from more professional tools that are based on the 3D drawing experience of experts such as architects, engineers, or professional decorators. The list above includes some very neat software options, from ones that can literally be mastered in less than an hour, to more complex choices that are best suited for people who’ve used such software before.

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