Free Landscape Irrigation Design Software

At my college, I teach a course named “Computers in Landscape Design” where I train landscape design students in AutoCad and Adobe Suite Programs, among others. These programs are tremendous for landscape designers who wish to use industry-standard software like regular landscape architects; however, they can be very expensive.

Students often do have access to free trials of the software, but for anyone interested in continually using them for the purposes of their professional business, eventually they will need to pay for the programs. To provide some perspective, currently the subscription for AutoCad software is around $200 per month. Unfortunately, this is just too expensive for many new business owners.

Students often ask me if there are any free landscape design apps that work well for professionals. Over the past several years, I tested many free landscape design apps on various projects. In this article, I will review the pros and cons of the market’s five main free landscape design applications.

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First, I won’t keep you guessing – my recommendation for the best free app is iScapes. The iScapes app is by far the best free landscape design app among its peers, having quality graphics, a solid user-interface, and a good plant library. In the table below, I provided a breakdown of some of my ratings for each of the five design apps. In case the image is too small, click here to download the pdf version. I will provide some helpful insights of each app in the sections that follow, along with some common issues that may influence your decision before downloading. But before you head off and just download the iScapes or PROLandscape app, I want to give you a little piece of wisdom I’ve accrued over my years of design. There is no substitute for a poor knowledge of landscape plants or design. If you are new to gardening or landscape design, before you purchase any app, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of The Essential Garden Design Workbook along with some essential drafting supplies and learn the old-fashioned way. Not only will it be fun, but you will be a better designer by doing this.

Okay, that’s my word of warning – now onto the reviews

Finally – before I diveinto each application – I must state that noneof these free programs compare to the professional industry standards ofAutoCad, Vectorworks, PROLandscape, or Dynascape. Although these programs dohave some good features – they just simply cannot match the quality of theprofessional software. But for those designers that are looking for a cheapoption that can get the job done, some are worth checking out.

VizTerra landscape design software. Features and functions: This is anotherfree landscape design software for Windowswith is a professional 3D hardscape. It is ideal for both beginners and professionals as it offers many full fledged features. This free landscape design software for Windows lets you design in 3D and share designs.

iScapes (Rating: 16/20 )

The iScapes software offers a free and paid premium subscription service. The paid service offers a larger plant library, along with additional image downloads, and project archives; however, the free version is very useful for a beginner landscaper or do-it-yourselfer. The biggest disadvantage of the app is that it is currently only available for iPhone or iPads. For Android users, they will need to find a substitute. To try iScapes, click here.

Pros: The biggest advantage of this app is the graphic quality of the three dimensional landscape elements. The drag and drop interface, along with the visual characteristics of the app make it very useful to professionals doing quick designs for clients on-site.

Cons: As with most of the apps you will see on the list, the major disadvantage is that if you want additional quality add-ons, you will need to pay. A more extensive plant library, along with additional project storage is available with payment.

Home Outside (Rating: 10/20)

I originally had high hopes for the Home Outside app, as the average app review was 3.8/5.0 with many positive comments. After having used the app in many different types of projects, I was disappointed in the lack of three-dimensional perspectives and the limited plant library. To test out the software, click here.

Pros: For plan graphics, the renderings are quite nice and the app allows for the importing of google maps of your customer’s property.

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Cons: The biggest downside to the app is the lack of any real plant library. The plants are categorized by “tree” or “shrubs” with no indication or availability to specify the planting in the free version. The paid version does offer some extra features.

Home Design 3D (Rating: 5/20)

Home Design 3D was an intriguing app that had very distinctive reviews when I originally had downloaded it. People seemed to either love it, or hate it. Unfortunately, I was one of the latter. The app is very useful for interior planning and design, but falls short for any realistic landscape design applications. To try the app, click here.

Pros: The only thing the app has working for it is the 3D aspect. The three-dimensional rendering capabilities are better than I would have expected for a free app.

Free Landscape Irrigation Design Software

Cons: The user-interface is very poor and the app itself is not intuitive. This combination makes for a very difficult experience for a designer, especially when there are other options available. I would hope that future updates provide pop-ups or a tutorial at the beginning to help designers navigate the platform prior to starting a design.

PROLandscape Home (Rating: 5/20)

I will start off with a disclaimer. In one of my classes, I train designers on the PROLandscape Professional Softwares (Planner, ImageEditor, and Proposal). These are good (but expensive) programs that are very useful for design. I believe it is a great marketing strategy by the developer Drafix to provide this free app to showcase some of the basic features of their paid programs.

With that being said, I found it difficult to provide an honest review of the free version because I kept remembering the full functionality of the paid programs. In any case, I did my best to realistically provide good feedback on the user-interface. Overall, there are many elements that can be improved. To test this out app, click here.

Pros: The free software has many similarities with the overlay perspectives of Home Outside, but with a greater plant library. The biggest drawback of the software is that most of the plant database is only offered for the paid version.

Cons: The app is not very intuitive and there is very little within the program to provide help or support. Also, there is a limited availability of plants, with poor customization, and relatively no ability to modify the existing library.

Sketchup Viewer (Rating: 5/20)

I had originally downloaded the Sketchup Viewer because I had received a recommendation about the app from another designer. I already have extensive knowledge in Sketchup, along with a variety of other 3D Software programs including three-dimensional CAD, Rhino, and Revitt, so I figured the Sketchup Viewer was worth a try. In general, it was a big disappointment as the viewer does not really offer anything valuable for a designer that does not have access to the base-program of Sketchup. To test out the viewer, click here.

Pros: If you have the ability to work on a regular computer to complete a great 3D model in Sketchup, the Viewer is useful -essentially just a tool to view the model and show it to your client on site. Other than that, the viewer does little else.

Cons: It is not a design software and offers no specific landscape capabilities. The app is obsolete without actually using Sketchup to generate the landscape model.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for the best free landscape design apps that also offer some assistance in designing and showcasing designs to clients in a professional manner, then I would recommend iScapes. If you do not have an iPhone or iPad, use Home Outside.

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None of the free apps have great functionality when compared to their paid counterparts. If you are starting out in the design profession, the free apps might be worth exploring but you will quickly find better value from some of the other paid alternatives.

If you haven’t already – check out my article on Gift Ideas for Landscape Designers – you can use the money you’ve saved on some nice things for a fellow gardener, or yourself.

Free Landscape Irrigation Design Software Free

For more articles on Landscape Design, please be sure to check out our Design resources and landscape Business articles.

Free Landscape Irrigation Design Software Tutorial

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Free Landscape Irrigation Design Software

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