Top 10 Free Landscape Design Software In 2021

Many people wish they could create landscape designs. But often, they don’t feel confident that they have the necessary skills.

This belief leads them on a search for a professional landscape designer. But while it seems that a landscape design requires an expert professional, that is not always the case. Besides, those designers can be awfully expensive to hire.

So why bother paying high fees for something you can do by yourself for free.

The truth is, there are many landscape design software options meant to help you visualize your design ideas. They are often very to use. But the best part is, many of these programs are completely free.

Even if you have no background in design, you can quickly create a landscape design for your property. 

But with a long list of alternatives out there, it’s cumbersome to research which landscape design tools out of dozens might best meet your needs.

Beyond that, it makes outdoor space design simple and straightforward and cost effective, as well as features you’d like. For example, do you need free landscape design software for Mac? Does it allow you to upload photo and plan your garden?

So we’ve thought long and hard about it, and listed the 10 best of the best free landscape design software for a DIY homeowner, or a professional landscape architect, looking for a inexpensive pimping out your garden design toolkit before purchasing. 

Importance of Landscape Design Software

The importance of landscape design software cannot be understated. These digital tools have drastically improved the process of landscape design in multiple ways.

The first clear advantage that landscape design software offers is efficiency. Designing with a pencil and paper takes many more hours. And revisions are especially time-consuming.

By using design software instead, designers can quickly produce and change design ideas in very little time. This leads to another massive benefit.

Landscape design software is more cost-effective. The ability to complete projects more quickly allows you to take on more projects overall. As your workload increases, so does your profit. Landscape design software allows you to get more done in less time.

If you run a landscape design business, software will help you succeed. This is especially true if you have a team of designers on staff. With efficient digital tools, you can ensure a high level of productivity from each team member.

But the importance of design software goes beyond your bottom line. Design software also leads to a better product.

Landscape design software is vastly more accurate than hand drawings. This leaves far less room for confusion during the construction process. The accuracy of design software reduces miscommunication between designers and builders. This leads to a better final product and happy clients.

Design software also helps with visualization. The programs often allow you to see a vivid image of your design far before construction begins. With this ability, you can explore design ideas in a more realistic way.

Design visualization helps you share ideas as well. Unless you are a highly skilled artist, hand drawings rarely serve as an accurate representation of a design. But with design software, you can often see an accurate 3D image of your ideas.

Why is Landscape Design Software Useful to You?

Of course, landscape design software is intended to serve professional designers. But that doesn’t mean these programs aren’t useful to homeowners as well.

As landscape design software continues to improve, it becomes easier to use. Today, you need little to no formal design background to use these digital tools.

As a homeowner, the traditional route to landscape design would involve hiring a professional designer. The fees for these individuals can vary, but they are often high.

After that, your spending is still not complete. Once the design is completed, you still need to pay someone to have it built.

But as mentioned in the last section, landscape design software saves time and money. And these advantages are available to you as well.

With a little bit of learning, you can eliminate the need to hire a landscape designer. By using landscape design software, you can quickly develop ideas for your landscape on your own. Once you are done you can hand these designs off to a professional builder.

To take advantage of this, you just need to become familiar with how these programs work. By understanding the features of different landscape design software options, you can start producing designs on your own very soon.

Common Features of Landscape Design Software

The design process is all about communication. The goal in this stage is to translate the ideas in your mind into some form that other people can easily understand.

Anyone interested in landscape design will soon learn that words alone are not enough to describe design intention. Imagery, on the other hand, is far more effective.

Landscape design software is how you can create that imagery. Each program will accomplish this takes in different ways. However, there are a few common features to be aware of. These features are popular because they have proven to help develop designs that are ready from construction.

To the uninitiated, many of these terms will be unfamiliar at first. But, there are actually easy to understand.

Below are some common terms you should know about when choosing your landscape design software.

  • CAD
  • 3D Models
  • Augmented Reality

Let’s take a look at what each of these terms means and why they are useful in landscape design.

CAD

Computer-aided design, commonly known as CAD, is an essential part of any modern design process. In short, CAD is the digital version of drafting by hand.

CAD is a vital tool in many fields including engineering, architecture, and landscape design. In most cases, designers use CAD to create 2D designs.

2D design refers to any design process that takes place in two dimensions. In landscape design, this usually results in what people commonly call a birds-eye-view. Professionals may use the term plan or blueprint to refer to the same kind of view.

This type of design approach will let you set lengths and widths for the areas you want to design on your property. But if you want to have a more realistic view of your proposed design, consider entering the third dimension.

3D Models

In 3D design, your ideas will become that much more realistic. The main way that 3D design works is through the creation of models.

A 3D model is a digital representation of your design. This includes length, width, and vertical dimensions as well.

The primary benefit of a 3D design is that you can have a better sense of the space you are attempting to create. By making a model, you can get a feel for what it will be like in the space you are designing.

This added level of realism will help you make better design decisions.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is one of the newest ways to create landscape designs. This technology is highly interactive and fun to use.

Typically, augmented reality software relies on the camera that is built into your phone or tablet. Again, this is a technology with many different applications including landscape design.

Landscape design software that uses augmented reality allows you to add plants and objects on your screen in real-time. All you have to do is point your camera at the are you want to design. Then drag and drop the items you want to add to your design.

This technology lets you see your design immediately. By using your camera, you can visualize the transformation you had in mind right away.

How to Pick the Right Landscape Design Software for You

Choosing a landscape design software is all about your intention. You will need to ask yourself a few questions before making your selection.

For example, you may just want to quickly share some design ideas. For that, you don’t need to produce detailed drawings. Instead, you just need a more general image of your idea.

In other cases, you may be ready to make a true transformation on your property. That means advancing your ideas to the construction phase.

To do that, you will need software that can generate more detailed drawings. The more detailed your drawings are, the more easily a contractor can bring them to life.

In either scenario, there is software that will suit your needs. But even if you can effectively evaluate software based on its features, there is one other important factor to consider.

You need to understand the technology you are working with. While some programs will work on almost all computers, some are exclusive to certain operating systems.

Others only work on certain kinds of phones. Sill, others are based completely on the web.

There is a lot of variety here. To help with understanding that challenge, each program on this list includes information about its compatibility.

Since these programs are free, you just need to have the right equipment to use them. But before we get to that stage, let’s cover some situations where free landscape design software may not be the best option.

Limitation of Landscape Design Software

As a final point before proceeding to the list, you should know the limitations of landscape design software.

The obvious benefit of the programs on our list is that they are free and require very little skill to use. But some projects will require true landscape design expertise to complete.

If you just want to add some plants or hardscape areas to your yard, using free software is a very practical choice. You can avoid the need for hiring a professional designer and go straight to a contractor to have your idea built.

But in some case is extremely necessary to seek the help of a professional landscape designer. If you want to make major changes to topography or build structures like retaining walls, you must hire a landscape architect.

In the vast majority of municipalities, those types of property alterations require drawings that are approved by a licensed professional.

If you neglect that requirement you may be fined by your local governing body. But beyond monetary cost, making those kinds of alterations to your property without a licensed pro is dangerous.

Likewise, if your property is in an area of environmental concern such as a wetland, you will also want to hire a landscape architect. They will help you with any permitting that may be required to redesign your property.

But if you have a simple design, using free software is a great cost-saving option. Choosing that route will require a little bit of learning. But in the long run, it may save you a lot of time and money.

Without any further delay, let’s begin our list.

10 Free Landscape Design Software Options

These programs come with many different features and they operate on different platforms Read through the descriptions to find software that you feel comfortable using. Below are the 10 best free landscape design software options available.

1. DreamPlan Home Design
2. Gardena myGarden
3. Showoff Home Visualizer
4. SketchUp Free
5. Iscape
6. Kerkythea
7. PRO Landscape Home
8. Plan-a-Garden
9. Garden Planner
10. Kitchen Garden Planner

1. DreamPlan Home Design

Compatibility: Mac and Windows

Main Features:

  • 2D Design
  • 3D Modeling
  • Import Function
  • Plant Library
  • Print and Save Functions

Versions:

  • Free Download
  • Paid Version: $24.99/User

DreamPlan Home Design lets you design all aspects of your home. That includes both interior design and landscape design.

Those capabilities allow you to visualize designs for your entire property. Taking this approach will help you make changes to all of your living spaces, both indoors and out.

Start by building your house. In this stage, you can draw the floors, walls, and ceilings fo your home. Add colors, textures, and furniture to make it more realistic.

After that, take a look at the landscape around your house. This program will allow you to completely transform your entire outdoor living space.

DreamPlan Home Design offers a variety of plants for your landscape. You can also alter the topography of your property.

Depending on the scale of your landscape vision, you can include a lot of features to your property. These include, swimming pools, outdoor furniture, and fire pits.

DreamPlan Home Design also uses multiple drawing modes.

In this program, you can switch between 2D and 3D modes. In doing so, you can view your design from every angle.

DreamPlan Home Design has an import function. With this feature, you can bring an image into the program. After that, it is easy to trace the image and create a 3D model.

While there is a paid version for professionals, DreamPlan Home Design has a free version for homeowners.

This program can help you to develop a comprehensive design that includes both interior and exterior features. 

2. Gardena MyGarden

Compatibility: Most Web Browsers

Main Features:

  • Quick Access Via the Internet
  • 2D Design
  • Plant Library
  • Print and Save Functions

Versions:

  • Free Online

With Gardena’s myGarden you can start designing right away. All you need is a common web browser and an internet connection.

myGarden requires no downloads. Just go to the site and start designing.

myGarden is a 2D design resource. So, unlike some other software options, you won’t be able to see your design in three dimensions.

Instead, myGarden immediately takes you to a birds-eye-view of a blank canvas. From there, their interface allows you to start designing from above.

You can layout buildings and outdoor areas with accuracy. Each time you make a garden space, you can set the exact two-dimensional measurements.

Toa add further details, myGarden lets you write notes as well.

myGarden also has an irrigation planning feature. This gives you the chance to plan out the locations of your sprinklers and other irrigation equipment.

After you have laid out all of your desired design elements, you can save or print your design.

3. Showoff Home Visualizer

Compatibility: Windows

Main Features:

  • Photo Editing
  • Plant and Furniture Library
  • Online Community

Versions:

  • Free Download

Home Visualizer offered by Showoff.com is a design program that relies on photos. Here is how it works.

Take a picture of the area of your yard that you want to design. Upload that photo to your Home Visualizer program. Then use the software’s library of plants and furniture to reimagine your yard.

This process is highly intuitive. You don’t need to have any understanding of technical 2D drawings or 3D models. Instead, you get to see how the area will look in real life.

Once you are done designing, you can upload your completed design to the Showoff.com online community. There you can receive feedback from other members.

This program is straightforward and free to download off of the Showoff site. But there is one major drawback.

Showoff Home Visualizer is only compatible with Windows operating systems. This limitation excludes a large percentage of potential users.

However, if you have the right equipment, this program is a solid option from someone with little to no background in design.

4. SketchUp Free

Compatibility: Most Web Browsers

Main Features:

  • Quick Access Via the Internet
  • 3D Modeling
  • Cloud Storage
  • Extensive Warehouse of Plants, Structures, and Materials

Versions:

  • Free Online
  • SketchUp Shop: $119/Year
  • SketchUp Pro: $299/Year

SketchUp is a program that focuses on 3D modeling. It is one of the most common modeling programs used by landscape architects.

There are three different versions of SketchUp. Each comes with different pricing and features.

The two paid versions are called SketchUp Shop and SketchUp Pro. These programs are offered on a subscription basis.

For those who are looking for free design software, you will need to opt for the third version of SketchUp. This version is known as SketchUp Free.

SketchUp Free operates on a web-only platform. This means that if you have internet access, you can use the program.

Since SketchUp specializes in 3D modeling, you will have a lot of flexibility in using the program. The interface allows you to zoom into and rotate around the objects you create.

But if you don’t want to spend large amounts of time building every design idea you have, there is another option within the program.

SketchUp offers and extensive 3D warehouse. In the warehouse, you can find thousands of common objects. You can search for plants, furniture, and much more.

The free version has some limitations in the warehouse feature. But provided you are designing for your home, you are unlikely to reach your download limit.

With the free version, you can download up to 100 objects per day. You can download 1000 objects per month.

But keep in mind that the more complex your model is, the more processing power you will need. If you add an excessive amount of detail object, don’t be surprised if your computer starts lagging.

As an added benefit, SketchUp Free comes with 10 GB of cloud storage. With paid versions, this storage is unlimited.

Although there is a learning curve, SketchUp is useful for visualization of landscape designs.

5. Iscape

Compatibility: iPhone and iPad

Main Features:

  • Augmented Reality
  • Photo Editing
  • Plant Library

Versions:

  • Free Application

Iscape is a mobile application. This app lets you design in real-time using your phone’s camera.

This process includes two design approach options. Depending on your preference you can choose to design in 2D or 3D

With the 2D option, you can take a picture of the area you want to design. Once you have a picture you are happy with, open the plant database. There you can find groundcovers, trees, and shrubs.

First, select the plant you want. The Iscape app will let you move the plant around the picture and resize it as needed. There are also many editing options that will let you alter the plants you select and the original photo.

The other design route is the 3D tool. This option uses augmented reality to help you design as you move around your yard.

With this feature, the app will use your camera’s video function. Through this, Iscape will detect surfaces in your yard.

Just point your camera at the area you want to change and wait for Iscape to recognize it. Once it does, you can add plants or structures

The augmented reality function makes it very easy to see the results of your design ideas right away. But there are some downsides to the app.

The primary disadvantage is that this app is only available in the Apple App Store. So, if you don’t have an iPhone or an iPad, this app is not an option for you.

The other main complaint about this app is that it has a very limited plant selection. So, consider the available plants to be placeholders. Later on, you can work with a professional to determine the exact species.

Iscape offers a free trial version for homeowners and a paid version for professionals.

6. Kerkythea

Compatibility: MAC, Windows, and Linux

Main Features:

  • 3D Modeling
  • High Quality Rendering
  • Informative Tutorials
  • Plant Library

Versions:

  • Free Download

Kerkythea is a 3D modeling and rendering program. Its primary function is to help visualize architecture and staging for interior design. But, it also has a plant library making it useful for landscape design as well.

One of the top benefits of this program is that it can generate high-quality renderings. These illustrations often have a more realistic visual appeal compared to other programs on this list.

However, that high quality comes at a cost. Mainly, it can take a long time for the program to generate its renderings.

Kerkythea was originally created as a plug-in for Sketchup. Now it is available for free download as a stand-alone program.

If you get Kerkythea, you can create great perspective imagery without relying on any other programs. Some users claim that the quality of the images is comparable to images produced by software costing 1000’s of dollars.

The program comes with a detailed tutorial to help you get comfortable with the user interface. Take some time to explore the capabilities of this program and soon you will be able to create 3D models and realistic renderings of your design intention.

7. PRO Landscape Home

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets

Main Features:

  • Photo Editing
  • Plant and Materials Library
  • Upload to Social Media Function
  • “Find a Professional” look-up feature

Versions:

  • Free Application
  • Professional Version: $1,495/2 Users

PRO landscape home is similar to Iscape in that it primarily uses pictures to create designs. The big difference is that PRO Landscape Home is much more widely available.

This app is free to download for both Android and iPhone users. It is also available or the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet.

Start by taking a picture of your property. Then open the library of landscape items.

This library will include pictures of plant, pavement, and groundcover options. Their website boasts thousands of options to choose from.

You can customize your plant library. This includes an option to organize your plants based on climate zone.

Each plant comes with a detailed description as well. These library features will allow for realistic plant selections.

When you finish your design, the app allows you to create a before and after image. This shows the clear distinction between what currently exists in your yard, and what you wish to add.

With this app, you can upload your finished design to social media platforms. That way your friends and neighbors can collaborate with you on your landscape design.

This app also has a “Find a Professional” look-up feature. This will let you find a landscape contractor doing business with you.

Unfortunately, there are some negative reviews from users. These include complaints about image quality. But most of the bad feedback is more related to aspects of the paid version. With the free version, you can create designs that are ready to send to a professional builder.

8. Plan-A-Garden

Compatibility: Most Web Browsers

Main Features:

  • Drag-and-drop Function
  • Plant, Structures, and Materials Library
  • Quick Access Via the Internet
  • Photo Editing

Versions:

  • Free Online

Plan-a-Garden is an online design program offered by Better Home and Gardens. This software utilizes a simple drag-and-drop method to help you design your entire property.

Plan-a-Garden includes a library of plants and a selection of structures as well. These structures include but are not limited to sheds, swing sets, and basketball hoops. They even have yard decorations like garden gnomes.

You can apply numerous filters to narrow your selection. For instance, you can filter by plant type, plant size, and sunlight requirements.

To access this design resource, all you need to do is enter your email in the Better Homes and Gardens website. After that, you can begin designing.

This program is much more useful for a complete beginner compared to those with some landscape design experience.

The functionality of the software has some limitations as well. In truth, you can only produce a general idea of your design.

This is in part due to the fat that Plan-a-Garden will have you start with a stock photo. Rather than take a picture of your own home and editing that, you will be instructed to choose an image that looks similar to your home.

On the plus side, the program includes a training component that will teach you how all of the tools work.

9. Garden Planner

Compatibility: Most Web Browsers

Main Features:

  • 2D Design
  • Drag-and-drop Function
  • Quick Access Via the Internet
  • Print Function

Versions:

  • Free Online
  • Paid Download: $38

SmallBluePrinter.com offers a free online design interface as well as a paid download version. The free version lets you design in two dimensions on a grid.

The free online version is simple and somewhat limited in its capabilities. When using this software you can create areas of a specific dimension. You can then color them with different textures to represent various landscape materials.

The program also offers plant options. But there are no specific species. Instead, they are general descriptions of plants.

This plant selection will work well if you only know that you want, for example, a purple flowering shrub. But it won’t offer any specific varieties of purple flowering shrubs.

The online Garden Planner features a print option. This lets you print directly from the website. However, there is no option to save your progress.

That means that if you want to create a design with this program, you need to do it in one sitting. Or, you at least need to keep your web browser open to that page. If you leave the page while your design remains incomplete, all of your progress will be lost.

Despite these drawbacks, the Garden Planner has some practical use. Specifically, you can create exact dimensions and area measurements.

10. Kitchen Garden Planner

Compatibility: Most Web Browsers

Main Features:

  • Drag-and-drop Function
  • Growing Requirements for Each Selected Vegetable
  • Quick Access Via the Internet
  • Print Function

Versions:

  • Free Online

Some people are more interested in creating small vegetable gardens rather than comprehensive landscape plans. If that sounds like you, then the Kitchen Garden Planner at gardeners.com is a great tool to use.

This free online program will help you to plan a vegetable garden. To start you have the option to create a garden bed or make a site plan.

But don’t expect the site plan to accurately represent your actual property. Rather, it is simply a grid. You can decide the length and width of the grid.

Once you complete that first selection, it is time to choose your vegetables. There will be a long list of preselected vegetable options for you to choose from.

Find a vegetable you want and rag it into your gridded area. You can choose as many vegetables as your space allows.

Once you have selected a vegetable and placed it in your gird, the Kitchen Garden Planner will reveal some important information.  This includes specific growing requirements for the plants you have picked.

Once you are satisfied, you can print out what you have created. Then its time to get to work on making your garden. While this is not a complete design tool, it is a great option for those who want to grow vegetables on their properties.

Conclusion

If you have a small-scale landscaping project in mind, using free landscape design software is a smart choice to make. Select a program that suits your needs and will work with your technology.

Using these programs will probably require a little bit of practice. But if you are willing to learn, there is nothing stopping you from creating a landscape design at no cost at all. Saving money is great. But the best part is, using these design programs will likely be a lot of fun as well.

Updated on by Amber Noyes

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.