Is your landscape business ready for an upgrade? Are you selling your landscape designs in the most impactful ways? Whether you are a new or established landscape company, there is now software (even apps) that can help you to create, plan, and sell incredible landscapes.
Landscape design software helps both homeowners and professional landscapers visualize designs by providing a virtual space to create them.
In this article, we’ll help you choose the best tools for landscape design based on your needs. We’ll outline the best features of our top picks and some of the best alternatives on the market today.
- Top picks
- How to choose the best tools for landscape design
Best Landscape Design Software
Our top picks for Landscape Design Software include something for every skill level.
- PRO Landscape
- Realtime Landscaping Pro
PRO Landscape is high-end software that has been designed specifically to suit the needs of landscape professionals. The user license covers two computers and a companion app that can be used on a smartphone or tablet, which all adds up to make Pro Landscape the most platform-versatile software in our lineup.
Where PRO Landscape shines is in its imaging and rendering capabilities. Users can use photos they have taken in their designs and can output detailed, professional blueprints and renderings for planning and implementation.
PRO Landscape offers a large virtual object library with over 18,000 objects to choose from. The library includes information about the plant’s climate preferences, so you know if a plant is a good choice for your garden environment. The software includes lighting design and allows users to easily switch to view the project at night.
At $1,495, PRO Landscape was designed for and is marketed to serious professionals. There is a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can take it for a test run before you commit to a purchase.
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Access on up to three devices (two computers + phone or tablet design app)
- Companion app for tablets
- Free lifetime tech support
- Drag-and-drop capabilities
- 18,000+ object library with real images
- 3D rendering capabilities
- CAD drawings for commercial projects
- Design over your photos or in realistic 3-D
Pricing: $1,495 purchase
Platform: Windows, Mac, and companion app for iPhone, iPad iOS, Android
Realtime Landscaping Pro
Realtime Landscaping Pro is only available for Windows machines. However, it has a user-friendly design that can help you quickly create outdoor space designs for your clients.
Realtime offers 12,000+ objects to choose from for your virtual design. Realtime software offers design wizards that help make the process of creating client spaces easier. The wizards are easy to customize, which saves time with the initial setup and illuminates the learning curve for new users.
Realtime’s robust set of featured objects includes single or multi-level decks, Koi ponds, spas, swimming pools, streams, or fountains. You can also add brand-name pieces to your designs. For example, an outdoor kitchen design can be designed with actual products from national brands, including S.R. Smith, Highpoint Deck Lights, Jerith, Philips Hadco, Amarr, and Kichler, among others. The software includes a topology tool for creating hills and slopes that help you design for uneven properties. Retaining walls can be designed with materials from national brands like Eldorado, Belgard, and Unilock.
Realtime Landscaping Pro allows you to view and show your designs in multiple ways. Realtime Pro has professional presentation options that let you generate a 3D movie to take clients on a virtual walkthrough of their actual property showing your proposed landscape design ideas. Bring along a laptop computer, and you can easily make design changes on-site along with your client.
Realtime Landscaping Pro is a robust mid-range and nicely featured landscaping software.
- Create 3D walkthroughs from multiple views
- Design over your photos of client spaces
- Utilize a landscape tool for sloping and uneven property
- Design sprinkler systems
- Access over 12,000 objects and 5,700 plants
- Create pools, decks, fencing, patios, and more
Pricing: Free trial period, Plus $99.95; Pro $149.95; Architect $399.95 (All for a one-time license)
Platform: PC/Windows only
SketchUp is a popular and versatile 3D modeling program that can be used by professional architects, landscapers, and designers. It is among the easiest modeling programs to use. The most expensive version of SketchUp costs $1,199 per year, but it also happens to be the best free landscape design software in our lineup.
If you’d like to try out the software before you shell out the full price, you can check out the free version first. The free version of SketchUp is web-based, meaning you can access it when connected online via a browser. The free version includes several landscape-building tools, including many free pre-built models that you can access in their 3D Warehouse, so you’ll get a sampling of what the paid version can offer you and some concept of how the paid software version will function.
The higher-priced versions of SketchUp give you access to features that give your renderings lighting selections that can simulate seasons and daylight, rich textures, and realistic shadowing. The end result is photorealistic renderings that can include VR flyovers and walkthroughs that are suitable for professional use. However, the biggest draw to SketchUp is its versatility and its specific capabilities as a landscape design software.
- Offers a free online version
- Allows you to create models of any object from scratch
- Provides millions of free 3D models to choose from
- Offers collaboration options for team projects
- Provides YouTube tutorial videos
Pricing: Free version; Shop $119 per year; Pro $299 per year; Studio $1,199 per year
Platform: Windows only for Studio. Web-based, Windows + Mac desktop for some versions.
Now, for the best of the rest, our next selections are some more great options for landscape design tools.
- NCH Software DreamPlan
NCH Software DreamPlan
NCH Software’s DreamPlan is available for both Windows and Apple, and it’s a good cost-conscious pick for landscape designing. It’s free for non-commercial use, making it a great choice for garden design hobbyists.
The NCH home design software allows users to create home floor plans and interior designs, so you can build your dream home and dream garden all in the same place. The software comes with a well-stocked library of plants, furniture, wall textures, flooring styles, and so much more.
Price: Free for non-commercial use; $40 for commercial use.
Platform: Windows, Mac
VizTerra is a landscape design program that offers many of the features of counterparts like PRO Landscape or Realtime Landscaping Pro. VizTerra gives you the option to convert images of client properties for you to use as the backdrop for your designs. It offers a virtual library of plants, bushes, furniture, trees, and so on. And you can create your own home design models if there are none that suit you in the library.
VizTerra would be a good choice for a professional landscaper who is not ready to invest in software or is uncomfortable with other software’s high up-front costs. It may also be an option for a landscaper who works seasonally and doesn’t mind the process of canceling and resigning up for month-to-month tools. There is a free 30-day free trial so you can take it for a test drive before you buy.
Price: $97 per month
Platform: Windows only
SmartDraw offers an easy-to-use interface with pre-built templates for visualizing yards, pools, decks, and gardens. SmartDraw gives users access to a library of plants and other objects like paver sidewalks and irrigation system components that can be easily added to a design. The software allows you to easily share links to your projects for client feedback or to showcase designs on your website or social media properties.
SmartDraw is a versatile software program and is compatible across platforms with Apple iPhone and iPad, Android, Mac, and PC. It is a great choice for a landscaper who is just starting out in the business or a serious hobbyist.
Price: Paid version only; $9.95 per month, billed annually
Platform: Mac, Windows, iPhone or iPad iOS, & Android
How to choose the best tools for landscape design
If you’re ready to try out a new landscape design tool there are several things to consider when you’re making your choice. Below we outline the key considerations, including the software’s price, usability, and device compatibility.
Typical prices for landscape design software range from $30 to as high as $1,495 for our most expensive featured software.
Free and lower-cost versions typically are missing the expansive virtual object libraries—so you’ll have fewer plants, trees, flowers, decks, water features, etc., to add to your designs. They are also typically only 2D, limiting the quality of your mockups. That said, a free version might be all you need to get a beginner’s home landscape project started.
Higher-priced options come with more functionality, including 3D landscape models, 3D rendering, thousands of virtual garden objects you can use to create your designs, and some even include options for interior design. Before you buy any landscape design software, be sure to check for free trial periods that allow you to try it before you buy.
There are landscape design software options for every skill level, from garden hobbyists to professional landscape architects. Landscape design software that is targeted at DIY homeowners features drag and drop capabilities, intuitive user interfaces, and even some pre-design templates to help kickstart projects.
The more complicated landscape design software offers AutoCAD levels of sophistication and can output professionally detailed 2D or 3D renderings or models which can be used in professional proposals.
Not all landscape design options are available for every platform. But each platform—Mac, PC, tablets, and phones—has good options available. Just make sure your computer or device will be compatible before you buy.
If you’re looking for a 3D design program, check the system requirements to be sure your computer has the processing power needed to handle large files.
Hire a landscape designer for help
Are you ready to offer your clients a better way to visualize your landscape creations? Are you ready to grow your landscape design business with tools that help you create more easily? We hope that one of the tools we’ve mentioned above can help take your business to the next level.
If it happens that your business is growing very quickly and you don’t have the staff to keep up, you can always hire a freelance landscape designer from Ndiwano.com to help you while you grow. Homeowners who are dreaming of the perfect outdoor setup can also hire a landscape designer directly with Ndiwano.com. Simply visit Ndiwano.com and search for “landscape designers” to find a professional who is ready, willing, and able to help you today!