If landscape design has to be done manually every time, the world would be filled with plain-looking yards. Gorgeous lawns would be a rare sight to see. Can you imagine having to create a diorama of a garden with miniature ponds, trees, and plants or worse, actually constructing fences, plots, and sheds just to see how they would look in your outdoor space? Don’t bother. This is why in this field, planning is of utmost importance. And on that note, landscape design software is your best friend.
In this article, we have compiled 12 of the best free landscape design software we could find on the market to cut time off your search for one. They’re different types of free: completely free, a free version with pro upgrades, free trial and separate tool from the main premium product and thus is free. Whether you’re a homeowner, professional, hobbyist, or a business looking for a decent way to test the waters before possibly committing to a purchase, the ones on this list allow you to do just that.
Landscaping isn’t new. It is, in fact, an art that dates way back in human history, although it’s worth noting that the term landscape architecture wasn’t used until the 18th century. In the Roman Era, houses of notably rich and powerful families have manicured gardens and lawns and Japanese estates have their famous Zen garden. During the Renaissance period, the scope of art has extended beyond painting and literature. It also spread into the field of architecture, extending into lawns and gardens. Thus, landscaping as we know it was born. This practice had endured until the very day.
But unlike before, landscaping can be observed in most houses today. In fact, it is a lot more common for modern households to have landscaped yards instead of plain ones. One reason for that is how beneficial this practice is. Landscaping has many ways of improving the overall appearance of a place. It sets up a safer environment, less noise pollution, stress reduction and many more. There’s more: in practical terms, homes with good landscape design enjoy 10-15% higher selling rate than otherwise.
Landscaping, however, isn’t limited to lawns and gardens: it can also cover wider areas in the city such as construction sites. Jobs as big as these must be left to professionals who are more likely to use Building Information Modeling Software (BIM) for their projects.
While Landscape Design applications have many things in common with CAD software, which automates the manual process of drafting, the former are a category of their own. They primarily focus on giving users tools that are essential for designing outdoor living spaces. Thus, its repository of design elements is composed of plants, trees, pots, hardscapes and other similar objects. It’s also a lot easier to use and can be utilized even by people who have no experience in the field.
Like its cousin graphic design software, there is a lot of landscape design software available in the market and while many of them are costly, a good number of this application can be availed for free. You can use this list as a guide to choosing from a variety of applications in order to find the one that perfectly suits your purpose and style.
Our pick for the best free landscape design software is SketchUp Free, the lite version of SketchUp solution perfect for personal use. This 3D modeling tool will run straight from your browser, no download necessary and no strings attached. It’s available on the Trimble website. Here, landscape designers are given a room where they can draw their ideas and bring them to life.
Upon registration, you are granted access to your very own Trimble Connect cloud repository which can hold up to 10 GB of images, plans and any files that need storing. This means that your progress is safe and backed up. This is especially useful when creating a design that needs more than one session to finish. Not to mention that since the app is browser-based, you can access everything from anywhere; creating from one device and finishing it on the other entails no problem.
One of the most notable features of this app is being able to access Trimble’s 3D Warehouse. This is a huge library of shared 3D models from both vendors and users. Aside from that, SketchUp Free has a basic, but mostly sufficient, interoperability support. It’s capable of importing PNG, JPG, SKP and STL files and can export SKP, PNG and STL files as well. Finally, this version supports the use of SketchUp Viewer which allows you to view your design right from your iOS and Android devices.
1. It runs straight from your web browser; no need for download nor credit card, just an internet connection.
2. It offers cloud storage capable of holding up to 10 GB of data.
3. It provides a degree of interoperability by being able to import PNG, JPG, SKP and STL files and export SKP, PNG and STL files.
4. It can connect with Trimble’s 3D Warehouse which is one of the biggest 3D model libraries in the world.
5. It can, through the SketchUp Viewer, display the created models on Android and iOS devices.
Another great free landscape design software worth looking into is DreamPlan. Because of its ease of use and handy design tools, novices can comfortably utilize this in no time at all. It’s not only good for designing landscapes and gardens, but it is also capable of interior, room, home and floor plan design and remodeling. It can be used for building models of pools and decks, as well as gardens, backyard, and more.
When dealing with outdoor landscaping areas, DreamPlan can do more than just place objects on them. It can actually reshape the terrain itself. You can level, raise, or depress the land as your design see fit. Aside from that, this landscape design tool also displays grid lines while in 3D view. This is mostly useful for easily determining whether something (walls, objects, rooms, etc.) can fit into the space available.
Do you already have a floor plan for your dream house? Great! Simply import the image/s into the system and wait for it to convert it into a 3D model. The converted model, of course, can be updated in the system if necessary. Moreover, expansion packages can be downloaded to gain additional content that could be used to improve outdoor living space.
DreamPlan has a free version that’s offered for non-commercial use.
1. It is an easy-to-use tool that both professionals and beginners in the field of landscaping can truly enjoy.
2. It is capable of changing the shape of the terrain of outdoor areas to landscape.
3. It can show gridlines not only in 2D but in 3D mode as well.
4. It sports trace mode which converts imported images of house plans into working 3D models.
5. It offers additional content by downloading expansion packages.
Plan-a-Garden of BHG (Better Homes & Gardens) allows the creation of any type of garden design, whether it’s as big as your whole yard or just a small patio-side plot. It’s easy to utilize as well because you can simply drag and drop elements around. It has dozens of structures to choose from such as decks, fences, sheds, buildings, gazebos, ceramic pots, basketball hoops and even ponds. There are pre-made templates where you can pick the background scene you can use for enhanced visualization. This app also provides a selection of textures like gravel walkways, meadow sceneries and red brick patios.
There are over 150 flowers, shrubs and trees to fill your garden with. And of course, it has no shortage of plants you can select from. With over 900 types available, your garden landscaping possibilities are practically endless. You can also choose the lighting for an area and Plan-a-Garden features a search filter where you can find the right size, type, and light of objects you’re looking for.
Progress is saved online so all your efforts and ideas won’t be lost. When satisfied with the outcome, an image of the garden can be saved and a list of all the plants included within can be exported as well.
BHG offers a browser-based app that you can try just by signing in with Facebook or filling up a short form. Oh, and it’s free.
1. It utilizes convenient drag-and-drop functionality to move things around.
2. It provides background sceneries to choose from that can improve the overall visualization of your garden.
3. It has 900+ plants available for use including shrubs, perennials, and trees.
4. It features a series of textures, such as bright-blue water ponds, gravel walkways, and red brick patios, which upgrades the quality of the landscape being developed.
5. It allows the addition of structures like gazebos, fences, basketball hoops, and sheds to spruce things up.
Garden Planner is a simple and easy-to-use landscaping and garden design tool which employs a drag-and-drop interface for arranging objects, buildings, plants, and trees. This app has a library of more than 1,200 objects and plant symbols to choose from. These are customizable so you can easily change their style, color and size. Thanks to this, you can represent virtually any objects or plants for your landscape. With this tool, you can create the garden layout you want in minutes.
The app’s most recent version now includes the capability to view plans in 3D as well, instead of just an overhead 2D view. Also, Garden Planner has a new and still in development (but usable) feature where you can stroll around your garden in 3D. Another feature worth mentioning is the Vegetable Patch Builder that uses a simple grid to easily create a layout of planting beds for your vegetables and herbs.
When done, you can print the plan, including a list of all the objects used in your garden. It also uses a coded system that can match the items in the list with the objects shown on the plan. This way, you’ll easily know where each item in the list is placed in your layout.
Garden Planner has a free browser-based application that you can try. Take note, however, that this online demo is an older version of the app (Garden Planner 3.0). Also, while you can still design your garden and print it out here, changes aren’t saved so all your progress is lost when the browser closes. There’s a trial version offered too and a free license is given to charities / non-profit organizations, pre-school/primary school, or a community group. When you choose to buy the software, however, it would just be a one-time payment and all future updates are free.
1. It has a library which contains 1,200+ object and plant symbols to choose from.
2. It allows each of the created symbols to be customized in color, style and size which enables them to represent a vast range of objects in the real world.
3. It is capable of easily creating a layout for herb beds and veggie patches.
4. It provides a virtual tour where you can walk around the garden in 3D.
5. It has a simplistic approach and tools that enable the creation of solid landscape and garden design within minutes.
Marshalls Garden Visualiser performs a sophisticated task in a simple way. It’s a free visualization software that allows the creation of garden designs in 3D and then taking a walk around it, just like in video games. The virtual tour can be done during the building process which is helpful in making better decisions along the way.
With Garden Visualiser, you can specify the size of your garden as well as change the ground’s shape to ensure a more accurate design and layout. You can add an image of your house which is helpful in making sure that your garden looks good at your place. This free landscape design software also allows the creation of your own custom features such as garden paths and garden walls with pillars. And to further spruce up your design, the tool offers a vast selection of items that you can add such as walling, paving, summerhouses, edgings, paths, block paving, and planting.
Your design can be saved on your account online so your progress won’t be lost. When you’re done and satisfied with the design, you are also given the option of requesting information from Marshalls to help you order the products used in your layout. Thus, you can build the actual garden yourself, or hire a professional to do so.
You can find and run the tool straight from your web browser. However, Marshalls Garden Visualiser requires Unity Web Player to run so if you can’t get it to open, then try using a different browser such as Firefox or Opera.
1. It allows 3D visualization and virtual tour of your garden design while building it.
2. It can set the garden size for more accurate design.
3. It provides themes to choose from in case you don’t want to start from scratch.
4. It allows you to request Marshall for information about the products used in the design to help you in ordering them.
5. It offers a lot of objects and products to choose from.
Terragen from Planetside is a comprehensive design tool that enables the creation, animation, and rendering of natural environments in a photo-realistic and high-quality fashion. Terrain can easily be created and manipulated with highly realistic aspects. In fact, real-world terrain can be replicated and altered through the third-party terrain editor. Digital elevation data can also be georeferenced in a snap. This software is not only good for designing your landscape but it can also greatly enhance the visuals through flexible lighting, gorgeous shading models, and complex atmosphere control.
One of the most useful aspects of Terragen when it comes to landscaping is its powerful functionalities for creating and manipulating objects. Fully-textured and complex objects? Not a problem. It’s easy to add life to your design by placing models of trees, houses, rocks and others. You can use whatever object you had rendered and populate the environment with it by placing thousands or millions of them in the scenery. It has many advanced object manipulation capabilities as well such as instancing, granular-level customization, and procedural shading.
Terragen has a free version available for non-commercial purposes or as a 30-day trial for commercial evaluation.
1. It can create and alter the terrain to make it look exactly like what you had in mind, or better.
2. It features advanced rendering capabilities on atmosphere, clouds, objects, etc.
3. It has lots of sophisticated shaders that can be applied to many items in the design.
4. It can build, render and manipulate any type of object to make a detailed environment.
5. It can render natural environment or landscape in realistic quality.
Kerkythea is a freeware solution capable of producing high-quality renders by using physically accurate lights and materials for the best quality outcome within an efficient timeframe. The software simplifies rendering by giving users every essential tool for automating the scene setup, such as material editor, GL real-time viewer and general render settings in one common interface.
Kerkythea is a powerful engine for Global Illumination rendering that follows real-world physics to accurately represent the design when it is actually realized. It also uses a real-life scale model, which means you should think of the actual size in making your design.
The software holds the effect of material on the rendered image in high regard which is why it features Material Editor System. This gives you great control over many aspects of the materials created. The materials produced in Kerkythea are very accurate because they’re based on the physical laws of the real world.
While it was created as a plugin for SketchUp, it is a standalone application and can be downloaded for free after filling out a form.
1. It features a powerful material editor that provides great control over the quality of the final material.
2. It contains all the necessary tools needed for automating scene set up in a single interface.
3. It provides a physically accurate scaling of materials.
4. It applies the physics of the real world for global illumination rendering.
5. It is capable of rendering your 3D models in photo-realistic quality.
PRO Landscape Home is the lite and free version of PRO Landscape. It can be used on mobile devices like phones and tablets to give your place a beautiful landscape makeover in a quick and easy way. You can start by taking a picture of your house with your device. From there, you can go ahead add objects such as plants, mulch, grass, furniture, pavers and many more to complete your design. To see how much you have improved (or worsen) your place, you can use the “before and after” view. You’re able to save the design you created and edit it later if you like. When everything looks good, you can share your work with your friends and families, or to strangers, on social media platforms. The design can also be printed or emailed.
The app contains a library of images which you can use for your design. There are plenty of items available but it’s easy to find something because they’re categorized and there’s a search function if needed. The images are also organized through climate zones which is helpful so that you only get to select the plants that would actually grow in your area. And to top it off, each plant has corresponding detailed information about it, such as description, mature height & width, botanical & common names, climate zones and color. So if anything else, you learn more about nature.
One of PRO Landscape Home’s most notable features is its capability to find a nearby professional who can transform your design idea into reality. These are landscape contractors whom you can ask to bid for your work. If you, however, fancy on doing it by yourself, then you can consult the local garden center for helpful advice in picking out the needed landscape materials.
PRO Landscape Home is available for download on iPhone & iPad, Android phone & tablet, and Amazon Kindle Fire phone & tablet.
1. It is available for your Android, iOS, and even Amazon Kindle devices.
2. It allows the creation of stunning landscape design in a matter of minutes.
3. It enables you to share your design ideas on social media sites.
4. It helps turn your designs into reality by finding a landscape contractor for you or aiding you in building it yourself.
5. It features a customizable library with loads of images for you to choose from.
iScape App is a tool for iOS devices used for designing outdoor living space through the help of augmented reality. This app aims to let you have a solid visualization of your project before spending actual money for bringing it to life. It has a series of design tools which are all easy to use so that you can quickly create a solid design even if you’re not well-versed in this kind of activity. Examples of these tools include cut-out & clone, duplicate, textures, favorites and spin/rotate.
There are no shortages of design elements in the system as well. In iScape App, you can find all the essentials such as plants, trees, fences, and bricks as well as the unique enhancements like fire pits, water features, and brick pavers. And the amazing part is that all the items used in your design are in the iScape inventory. This means that if you want to buy them, you can simply order from the app.
Moreover, you can share your design ideas with others where you can collaborate on a project for a better outcome. The app also empowers you to hire a professional landscape designer if you want to take your project to the next level.
You can download iScape on your iOS device from the App Store. The tool is free and there are in-app purchases you can avail if you want to upgrade your designing capabilities.
1. It is a simple tool with powerful features that are easy to use even for novices.
2. It features thousands of design elements you can incorporate to your project.
3. It has an inventory of all products in the system which allows a smooth and easy order process if you choose to.
4. It allows the sharing of ideas, images and projects, useful when collaborating with someone.
5. It provides you with an avenue for hiring professional landscapers in case you decide to take your design very seriously.
Lands Design is an all-inclusive landscape design software that covers all the phases involved in the development of landscaping projects. From generating technical plans in 2D, to realistic production of images in 3D, to the virtual walks throughout the green area design. It’s a handy tool capable of streamlining many of the tedious processes involved in CAD design such as generating terrain, creating 3D elements, designing planting layouts, preparing dimension plans, etc.
It has a huge database of objects that can be used for landscape design such as the 1,800+ plant species, civil work elements, vegetation and urban furniture blocks. There are also about 500 drawings of 2D and 3D plants that are available in DWG format. It includes extensive features for terrain modeling and watering system. And another impressive functionality is the rich documentation feature which automatically updates when adding or deleting elements.
Lands Design has a free 30-day trial edition. It has the same functionality as the commercial edition except for the absence of nXt Plants, which are essentially the species of plants included in the “favorites” group, and the full access to the objects in ModelCAD, a vast library of design elements.
1. It is a complete software solution for landscaping projects and landscape design.
2. It streamlines the laborious CAD design processes like producing documentation tables, designing auto sprinkler systems, and many others.
3. It has a vast database of design elements. (1,800 plant species, 500 2D and 3D plant drawings, urban furniture blocks, civil work objects, etc.)
4. It features walk mode, which allows you to walk around the rendered field to check how the 3D models in your design would look when implemented.
5. It can render photorealistic images for enhanced visualization through the nXtRender plugin.
Arborgold itself is a comprehensive CRM software that caters particularly to the needs of businesses involved in the green industry. But what you’d be more interested in is that Arborgold has released a free, online CAD tool for making stunning landscape drawings. It was initially made for businesses so that they could win more projects by first showing their work on clients but this tool is completely suited for homeowners wanting to design their outdoor space as well.
It has several unique features such as its capability to import some Geo Satellite photographs of job sites and the freehand tool which can be used to draw shapes without the usual restriction. There are also several fill patterns available ranging from grass, wood, to patio. Moreover, Arborgold’s free landscape design software can use images from your gallery or you can take photographs with your device. It also involves a layering process for images so that you can choose which image is on top and which are beneath it.
It must be noted that this is a separate tool from the Arborgold suite and thus, is free. You can try it by requesting a free account from them via email@example.com.
1. It has a vast collection of hardscapes, lightening, houses, plants, irrigation, etc.
2. It can import images of geo satellite shots which can be used for the markup of job sites.
3. It has a variety of fill patterns such as mulch, grass, wood, brick, patio, and more.
4. It is capable of making shapes using freehand drawing tool and filling them up with patterns or color.
5. It utilizes layering concepts for images so they can be moved up and down in stacks.
Showoff.com the Visualizer is an application that assists you in your home projects by helping you design and remodel the interior of your house and aiding you in embellishing your outdoor living space. You can upload a photo of your house, or of anything else, to be able to visualize how the completed project would be like even before starting the actual job. The design idea can then be offered to the community in Showoff.com for feedback, comments, and consultation.
The design process is pretty straightforward as well. First, you only have to upload a picture (your house, not your house, just a blank image, etc.) and then you can start adding the design elements of your choosing. The user interface is mostly dominated by a big screen for editing with buttons on the edges. There is a catalog of images that are organized into seven main categories and various subcategories that contain all the objects you can choose to place and arrange on the image you uploaded. Several options are available for manipulating each picture, including resize, flip and rotate.
Showoff.com the Visualizer is a free landscape design software for Windows and it can be downloaded from the showoff site.
1. It allows you to submit your design to the Showoff.com community for tips and consultation.
2. It is an easy and straightforward tool to use.
3. It features a wide variety of plants as well as non-plant objects.
4. It is good for visualizing how a project would look like before starting the actual job.
5. It can help enhance your design by reading the design and layout tips on the Showoff.com website.
And that concludes the list of the best free landscape design software we have chosen for you. Hopefully, you found the right one that can help you create the landscape of your dreams and bring it to reality.
If you weren’t able to pick one then we highly recommend trying the top product on our list, SketchUp Free. There’s no risk involved since it’s completely free and doesn’t require a download because it runs directly from your web browser. You even get big storage (10 GB) for keeping all your designs and you’re granted access to a database that houses a vast amount of design elements to choose from. There’s also no credit card involved in the registration so if you’re still in doubt, you can go to their page and sign in for a free account. Of course, if you want to take your landscape design to the next level, you can go for their premium edition.
Likewise, if you want to render and import image files to enhance the landscape design, you have plenty of top graphic design software that can work hand in hand with these free landscape design solutions. Taking it one step further for freebies, if you’re a landscape provider and want to showcase your designs on the internet, there are free website builders, too, that let you create a gallery of your work.
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