Landscape design software is a type of software used specifically by garden designers, landscape designers, and landscape architects. It is used to create 2D or 3D landscape construction plans and creating hardworks, groundworks, softworks, and planting locations.
The two levels available for landscape design software are amateur and professional. The amateur software is designed for simple visualization for garden designs while professional tools allow for stylistic representations of a design to be accurately labeled and given proper dimensions for contractors to interpret and land authorities or government agencies to sight and approve for whatever purpose it is suited for. Many software companies have created their own landscape design software or created a version of their existing engineering software for the sole purpose of landscape designing.
Hardworks is usually defined as any landscaping design that includes concrete, fencing, edging, masonry, metalwork, finishes, paving, stone, structures, and timber. Groundworks is the definition used for landscaping excavations, drainage, irrigation, erosion control, and earthworks. Softworks is defined as landscaping that involves horticultural sundries, soil preparation and conditioning, chemical applications, turf creation, and seeding. Planting locations are basically where certain types of plants will be planted or located in a landscape.
Amateur landscape design software can be used even by non-techie types and can often be downloaded free. Professional landscaped design software needs to be purchased or a free software may be upgraded to a premium version. The professional software may have one or all the following features:
- Video tutorials
- Digital photo import
- 3-D creation
- Plant Encyclopedia and selector
- Plant growth zones
- Images of plants and other landscape-related objects
- Shopping lists (if any)
- Outdoor lighting
- Irrigation features and design
- Outdoor or garden furniture
- Reports, Schedules, Billing
- Photorealistic design presentations
- Ability to generate quotes, invoices, reports, and other general landscaping information
Choosing the Right Landscape Design Software
Most landscape design programs are built with do-it-yourself users in mind. Most software packages allow you to scan a photo of your yard and drag-and-drop plants and other landscape features on a digital version of it. Or with some mobile versions, you can simply take a picture of the area and use 2D drag-and-drop to create the landscape. Other programs allow the user to create an electronic base map and make changes as you choose landscape features and plants and move them around.
Also, look for a program that guides you through a survey of the area to be landscaped and allows the user to define and map the site. Most programs usually have some sort of video tutorial to instruct in this process and any other features. Some software may also have a sort of growth feature that enables you to see what plants look like as they mature, and a shadow caster that will show where trees and other structures will fall any time of the day throughout the year. This is necessary for landscaping because growth and shadow affect the placement of gardens, decks, and even swimming pools. Three-dimensional viewing gives you a realistic view of the landscape and will even give you a virtual tour.
A cost-estimating added feature can help you plan and track costs at every stage. A sprinkler system installation feature simplifies projects of this nature by formulating a workable plan, complete with flow rates, and even a shopping list of pipes and emitters.
Other software features that may be included are plant encyclopedias with photos, botanical names, and plant care guides; a search feature that helps you identify plants suitable for certain seasons or a region’s weather or climate; demonstrations of common gardening and building tasks; and even landscaping troubleshooting guides. Newer software packages coming out are often better and more updated compared to old versions that get updated. Usually, before purchasing any landscaping software or even before downloading a free version, it’s best to read the reviews for that software beforehand.
Online Landscape Design Software
You can also search the Internet for an ever-growing number of online gardening resources instead of downloading or purchasing. You can use the landscaping design app directly from the website to plan out your landscaping details. These same websites may also offer everything you need, from expert advice to garden-planning options. You can also order plants and landscaping products to be delivered directly to your doorstep, or get the information you need within minutes.
You’ll find all kinds of free landscape design program apps that allow you to sketch out flowerbeds and landscape plans. Plan-a-Garden landscaping online apps may include a library of trees, shrubs, and structures that can be arranged on a computer screen and then saved for future reference or just printed out.
Benefits of Using a Landscaping Design Software
Easy to use. As the popularity of DIY landscaping projects has increased over the past years, more gardening, outdoor, and landscaping outfits have started producing easy-to-use products geared toward amateurs, first-timers, and DIY project makers. This includes basic landscape design software. All you need is rudimentary computer knowledge to operate these user-friendly systems. Naturally, professional landscape design software may only be used by professionals lest it causes considerable confusion on the part of the newbie or amateur.
Affordable. Many homeowners wrongly assume that landscape design software is expensive. While this may apply to recognized high-end programs designed for high-end landscaping professionals, there are numerous alternatives available at a lower price. With so many options to choose from, you should have no trouble finding one within your budget.
Brings out your creativity. Landscape design software encourages you to be creative. Whether you’ve always wanted a backyard water feature or a nice front garden complete with artificial turf, ornamental trees, and shrubs, these programs allow you to create the landscape of your dreams. If you’re not sure what you want, the software can help you to explore new ideas. For example, if you’re inspired by an attractive garden design you saw on a magazine cover, you can try it out with the software to see if it can work in your backyard or garden.
Planning. Implementing a new landscape design is an investment in the beauty and value within the outside confines of your property. By carefully planning your landscaping you can be sure to get an excellent return on investment once the project is completed. Landscape design software allows you to apply your ideas to see what will work and what won’t before you do any actual landscaping. Many programs also have a growth projection feature that shows you what your property will look like in the future.
Software speed over hand drawing. If you compared designers in the past who were fast at hand drawing with those who were fast at design software, a hand drawing that took 10 hours by hand might only take an hour with software. That may even be too conservative, given the speed of software. For example, drawing a tree symbol like an evergreen might take 30 seconds to draw by hand but it would only take five seconds to find and drop in the design with software. Labeling drawings by hand are very time-consuming, and so is measuring an area by hand or counting plant symbols manually versus having the software doing it. The time savings are even more significant here. Having the software give you a plant list fast compared to writing it out by hand is another example. The software automation is the factor that really saves you time.
Saving time will save you money. Of course, time equals money. So thus, by saving time, you become more profitable. With a landscape design software, you will spend less time designing and estimating each project, plus your designs will have a better-perceived value and therefore the contractor is able to charge more for them. For the homeowner, no more waiting endlessly for the hand was drawn or inaccurate quotes or landscaping plans that can go awry later because there was no planning for the future.
Ready made graphics. Most software programs for design landscapes come with ready-made graphics that look like a variety of plants. These images often include flowers, shrubs, trees, and even vegetables. Additionally, some programs also include information on common garden pests as well as how different plant diseases may look. There can even be tips on how to prevent plant diseases, and how to treat them. This can save you time and money as you more effectively take care of your own garden needs.
Ready made designs. Other features that come with landscape design programs include already laid out garden design templates. This is useful if you don’t know where to begin then you can get ideas by looking at prepared garden templates suggested in the software. Likewise, some software provides easy to follow suggestions on how to properly plant the garden or build some small landscape features. There are plenty of ideas present that you can either use straight from the software or even those you can modify a little bit to better fit your own original ideas of what you would like.
Scanning Your Own Garden Photos
One of the best features available with landscape design software is the fact that you can scan digital photos into it so you can work with those. Rather than relying on graphic images of something that looks sort of cartoonish to what your garden looks like or its situation, you can use a picture from a digital camera so that you can create a design based on what your yard realistically looks like, and then you can see what it could look like with a little difference in the landscape. There is also software that can also take you through the different seasons to see what your garden will look like during the different seasons after the supposed landscaping change. You can see what your yard will look like when the plants change colors and have that seasonal change of leaf, or how it would look in early spring, just prior to blooming. This can help you plan to move in plants that have different blooming times, and plants that still look attractive even after they are done blooming.
Other Advantages of Designing Your Own Garden
While designing your own garden even with software can be fun and can help you understand what you want, if your design seems elaborate and lofty even for the landscaping team of Emperor Caligula, instead, have a professional design your landscaping for your or at least evaluate your design so you can save a lot of stress and money.
Proper Sunlight. professionals using landscape design software and have been building and designing gardens for years, will know where plants should be planted in order to really thrive and grow. Certain plants will burn up in the afternoon sun, while others will fail to grow should there not be enough sun. Another consideration is after watering plants how much water will simply evaporate due to the sun’s heat.
Irrigation. Garden design programs aren’t that yet to calculate proper irrigation, so the human mind and hand will still be needed just for this aspect. You’ll need a keen eye and experience to design a garden so every plant receives the right amount of water. However, when designing and mapping out an irrigation system based on sound human ideas and experience, nothing beats the speed of software doing this compared to the human drawing hand doing things manually.
Soil. depending on where you live and what the overall weather is like in your state or region, your soil can vastly vary. Some plants have deep roots, and they won’t grow very well if you are near an escarpment where it can be rocky. Other plants may not have deep roots and be ripped out during the first wind storm as your lawn might be too sandy and loose. A landscape design software with complete data from an encyclopedia or direct access to Internet sources can sort out soil problems for gardens and landscaping, and what plants need to be properly planted to what soil.
Future Proof Your Landscape with Software
A garden you design might look amazing the first couple years, but later down the road, it could cause you problems. A tree, for example, might block your view, or cause structural damage to your house, for instance, with deep roots that can damage pipes or fallen limbs that can damage your shingles or the rain gutters. Certain plants might cause pest problems, such as flowerbeds that are planted too close to your home, or certain flowers near your driveway that attract a lot of bees, finally ending with a beehive suddenly appearing in your driveway. A landscape design software ensures that every plant and tree placing, every stone, every landscape, every water source, is properly placed and arranged so it doesn’t cause any trouble or problems for the house or the homeowner in the future.