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7 Best Free Landscape Design Software Tools to Use in 2021

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Imagine the perfect garden—the grass, ornamentals, flowers, and ponds. You add a fountain and a dog house, plus a gorgeous walkway and a landscape border.

IT’S PERFECT!

Your garden couldn’t look any better. 

But that’s on your head…

How can you make it real? More attainable? An actual plan that makes that dream garden possible?

Here’s where free landscape design software tools enter into action…

7 Best Free Landscape Software Reviews in 2021

It’s time to stop imagining how you’d want your garden to look and instead make it a reality.

The first step? Use the right software. The one that BEST meets your demands and gives you’re the entire array of tools to create EXACTLY what you want.

Software tools like this make it easy to transform all the images in your head into actual plans. So, you’ll have a more concrete example to follow when it comes to doing the work.

On top of that, you won’t have to pay landscape designers or agencies (WHICH CAN BE PRETTY EXPENSIVE).

For that, we chose seven of the best landscape software out there. They’re all free (at least for a month). 

But they’re all fantastic in their own way. Check what we have to say about them:

1. NCH Software DreamPlan Home Design

NCH Software DreamPlan Home Design
Image: nchsoftware.com

If we had to pick one design tool, DreamPlan would be our first choice… BY FAR!

The truth is, you won’t find any other software as complete yet still free for designing your home. 

Bringing all your ideas to life will be a PIECE OF CAKE!

Why?

Let’s start with the ability to create either 2D or 3D renders. So whether you’re designing your outdoor landscape or indoor environment – this software makes it possible to do BOTH AT ONCE.

Second, you get all kinds of resources to play with. This includes trees, gardens, pools, terrain, backyards, and ALL KINDS OF EXTRAS.

And if all that wasn’t enough, you can still import your own renders, images, textures, or whatever for custom designs.

Let’s not forget this is also ULTRA-FAST software. So even though the design will feel a bit outdated, this comes with the speed boost (perfect if you have an old computer but still want to design your own stuff).

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: It works on Windows and Mac OS without any difference in speed or feature availability. Its compatibility is other-worldly, the user experience is next-level, and its features are UNBEATABLE. 

What We Liked

  • Offers various view modes and dimensions
  • Features tons of different extras to enjoy
  • Helps you design outdoors and indoors alike 
  • It is easy to use despite its HUGE AMOUNT of features

What We Didn’t Like

  • The free version has many limitations (but it’s still worth it) 

2. Kerkythea

Kerkythea

With such a misleading name, you may think this software could be anything but a high-end landscape design tool. 

And well, it is the freest of the free software tools (while still being one of the most complete). 

You get the whole package with Kerkythea for many reasons. 

For one, all the resources (materials, lights, textures, etc.) are ALMOST LIKE THE REAL THING. The render quality is as accurate as it can be for the cost.

Two, you can stage your designs to give you a real-life visualization. Even though the design will be entirely in 3D and on your computer, you can make it almost real with this feature.

Three, the software features one of the best documentations in the field. Few software tools offer such a level of comprehensiveness in their guides (the guides will help you get started, understand editing functions, upload your own materials, and much more). 

And four, you get a forum filled with tutorials and real-professional advice from landscapers and enthusiasts. 

You’ll get the whole package FOR FREE! That’s why it’s our second-best choice.

PLUS: You can customize EVERYTHING from the textures to the lights, shadows, and more. It’s the closest you’ll get to a paid software for free.  

What We Liked

  • Features a fully functional array of features
  • Its guides and resources are unbeatable
  • Has a forum and community to learn from 
  • Renders everything with maximum detail

What We Didn’t Like

  • Takes some time to understand

3. PRO Landscape Home

PRO Landscape Home
Image: prolandscape.com

Don’t want to waste any time designing your new landscape?

Then use a landscape design free app like PRO Landscape Home.

It’s simple to use, works on any device, and comes with so many features you’ll never get bored of using it.

To get the most out of it, you simply need to take a photo of your landscape. Then you can start building your dream garden on top with THOUSANDS of items you can add. 

The software lets you create proposals (it comes like a charm if you’re a landscape designer). And it enables you to render EVERYTHING in 3D if you need to.

You still get a lot of lightning designing tools, many beautifying features, and much more. It makes visualizing your most ambitious ideas a lot easier.

And there’s still a lot more to enjoy: like its ability to share designs via social media, the community (if you pay for the app), a search tool for plants (with detailed data about each), exceptional rendering effects, and much more. 

It’s available on Google Play, Apple App Store, and Amazon Apps (there’s no excuse not to try it!)

TO MAKE IT EVEN BETTER: If your design looks great but you still feel like a professional could help, don’t hesitate to use the Find a Professional feature. Surf through and find a landscaper ready to make your landscape design a reality (or give you GREAT advice). 

What We Liked

  • Works in either 2D or 3D as needed
  • It is available on pretty much any device
  • Has many items and materials to use
  • Lets you share designs, propose ideas and find clients 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Lacks many designing features 

4. iScape

iScape

Another app for landscape design exclusive to iOS devices.

iScape will make your landscape designs a lot more fun, much more accurate, and EASY. 

Start by taking a photo. Add the items or plants you want. Then share with friends, family, or project partners. If you wish, you can also collaborate and plan more designs ON DEMAND.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a landscaper, this app works like a gem. You can create proposals as a homeowner and see how much the redesign will cost. And as a designer, you can appear in a network of customers to get leads.

And the visualizations are GORGEOUS, to say the least.

The textures let you recreate any surface, the items are THOUSANDS you can place anywhere in your landscape, and the tools have many built-in features, so you have MAXIMUM CUSTOMIZATION.

THERE’S A LOT TO ENJOY!

TO MAKE IT EVEN BETTER: You get the chance to add items to your inventory and order them directly from the app, saving you tons of time and effort buying stuff. 

What We Liked

  • Everything looks almost like the real thing
  • Allows you to share designs and get feedback
  • You can buy stuff directly from the app
  • It’s a piece of cake to use 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only works on iOS devices

5. SketchUP

SketchUP
Image: sketchup.com

POWERFUL TOOL FOR THOSE WHO NEED EVERYTHING.

That’s how we can describe SketchUP. And we still aren’t honoring how amazing it is.

As soon as you start using it, you’ll realize it’s like no other tool on the list. The drawing-by-hand feature is FANTASTIC, making it easy to create your models and enjoy the 3D visualizations without limits.

The app has all kinds of add-ons and extensions created by SketchUP and the community, making the whole software amazingly practical.

You can use it on many different devices, share your work with the community, collaborate with your team, and show your work to clients ON DEMAND.

And for developers who love taking their work a step further, the app offers an API that you can use for many different things (perfect for those who want supreme personalization).

CONSIDER THIS: The app is free for only 30 days. That’s why it made it to this place in the ranks. Having said that, you won’t go back to any other software as soon as you try this one (WE ARE 100% SURE OF THAT).  

What We Liked

  • Boasts a high-end 3D system with full customizations
  • Allows collaboration and community sharing
  • The API makes it super-customizable 
  • Items, materials, and interface are all gorgeous

What We Didn’t Like

  • Has a limited free period 

6. Gardena myGarden Planner

Gardena myGarden Planner

What better than doing some landscape design free online? The myGarden feature from Gardena makes that possible.

It is a complete web app. And it is 2D only.

While this reduces the number of things you can do, it also makes the whole app a lot faster, easier, and more compatible than any other software.

What do you get with this tool?

Mainly, a 2D system to make blueprints of your redesigns where you can enjoy a broad plant library with tons of species. And if you desire, you can print or save your designs for later use.

The app also lets you write notes, use templates, and even create plants for sprinkler systems. 

Given it is so light and pretty much anyone can use it, we can call it the best for simple design. And that wouldn’t be wrong.

REMEMBER THIS: You can pick from tons of items in the tool sidebar. To add them to your templates, you only need to drag and drop. You can do the same with the rest of the features. 

What We Liked

  • Everything is customizable to the max
  • The 2D quality allows for maximum detail
  • It is a fast and lightweight app in the browser
  • Comes with a note-taking feature

What We Didn’t Like

  • It may feel complicated for beginners

7. BHG’s Plan-a-Garden

If you want simplicity, nothing will beat the Plan-a-Garden from BHG.

This is another 2D option. Better Homes & Gardens wanted to help their clients design their own stuff without many complications – and IT WORKS.

It’s the EASIEST to use, and we’re not exaggerating.

A straightforward drag-and-drop system makes the whole experience as effortless as you can imagine. 

You still get a broad array of textures, structures, and plants to use. Simply click on what you want and then paste it directly on your plants. You can then modify everything to your preference.

You can also upload your own landscape photos to visualize everything even more accurately.

The app even comes with a feature called “Find a Local Landscaper” so you can hire professionals on-demand. 

AND IF ALL THAT WASN’T ENOUGH: It’s easily accessible through BHG’s website, so you won’t have to download A THING. It works on any device with access to a fast-enough browser. 

What We Liked

  • Its compatibility is exceptional
  • Requires little to no effort to use
  • Comes with tons of items to use
  • Lets you upload your own scenery

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some of the textures are paywalled 

How to Choose the Ideal Landscape Design Software

Software is tricky to choose. 

There are way too many variants that could either make it or break it for you.

If you don’t know what to pick or why: then read this guide below. We’ll teach you everything as briefly as possible. 

Built-In Materials and Items

First, consider WHAT you can create with the software. 

This includes everything available to use: like visualizations of plants, grasses, skies, floor and wall textures, soils, and much more.

All these features are often built-in, making the product more convenient. 

But how many of these materials are we talking about?

Endless ones. Go for those tools that offer as many items to use in your landscape designs as possible.

If they are enough so you can’t try them all at once, then that’s a great piece of software to use.

Details and Customization

Even when an app comes with tons of items to enjoy, it may not be too customizable.

That’s why you must try to get the most personalized experience possible. A tool that lets you customize EVERYTHING to the max.

Of course, this also includes small details that could affect your designs (like surfaces and textures). 

And if you want even better results, choose tools that allow uploads of your own assets. 

NOTE: If you only want simple designing and don’t mind limited customization, ignore this.

Ease of Use and User-Friendliness

There are landscaping design tools for experts and designers.

Then there are landscaping design tools for homeowners and less knowledgeable users.

Choose the one that best meets your ability.

But at the same time, consider how easy it is to use overall (user-friendliness). Some tools are way too complicated because only engineers can understand how they’re used (or someone willing to spend countless hours with it).

Free-Forever or Try-It-First?

We chose free software tools. But not all of them are COMPLETELY free. 

Some of them will be free for a few weeks or months. Others will be free but with limited features. 

Obviously, the paid ones are often more PRACTICAL, FASTER, MORE COMPATIBLE, and EASIER TO USE.

So you can decide whether to use always-free software that may not have the best support or use try-it-first alternatives that may cost a lot later on but give you A LOT MORE to enjoy. 

Types of Landscape Design Software 

While browsing, you’ll realize that not all tools are the same.

They can vary ENORMOUSLY. And it mainly comes to what type of software it is.

Here we explain the three types you’ll encounter: 

CAD or 2D Software

Also known as “Computer-aided Design” software, CAD refers to all those tools you can use to create 2D designs. 

You could say CAD is like drawing by hand on a computer. And it’s mainly focused on 2D visualizations.

That’s why this is the most popular type but the simplest as well.

A CAD software would be ideal for those who want to plant the organization of their garden but don’t really need to visualize the redesign directly in 3D.

By the way, professional landscapers use CAD software in 2D to create blueprints and make accurate measurements before starting with the backbreaking work.

3D Software

Want to give your garden a makeover, but first want to know how it could look?

Then choose 3D software. 

This kind of tool lets you create pretty much any type of design that comes to your mind. Bring it to life in 3D by customizing the whole design from your ideas.

It is an excellent choice for those who want to visualize their landscape before starting any manual work. It’s also a perfect tool for professionals who want to show the most accurate representation of clients’ ideas.

The realism of 3D software is unsurpassed (and it also offers the highest customization). 

Augmented Reality Software

When 2D seems too simple, and 3D feels like too much, you can go for the easiest yet still practical alternative of AR (augmented reality).

These tools are as easy as taking a photo of the landscape you want to redesign and customize as you need.

Some are so easy to use that even a child can use them. And because they rely on a camera, they let you create the most accurate representations of your ideas on top of your actual landscape.

Of course, these are only available for smartphones, which can be a problem for professional landscapers. But homeowners and enthusiasts, AR is probably the way to go.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does a landscape design cost?

A consultation fee (ideas only) can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the quality of the service and your home’s size. 

Can you use software for landscape design free forever?

Yes. Some software tools are entirely free, like NCH DreamPlan and Kerkythea. 

Is it worth using landscape software for free as a professional?

If you can’t afford professional-level tools that can be exuberantly pricey, using a free tool is never a bad idea. It will save you a lot of money (but may offer fewer features than you need). 

Conclusion

So, what are you waiting to create your own garden plans?

With the free landscape design software options in this list, you shouldn’t have the slightest problems taking your ideas to blueprints.

They’re all free. They’re all easy to use. And more importantly, they are all compatible with different devices, so you can use them HOWEVER YOU WANT.

Don’t waste any more money or time with designers when you can try doing it all by yourself. Get one of these tools now! 

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