A stunning garden can be a pleasure to spend time in and can also add value to your home. Designing your outside space can be a tricky business, however, especially if you are not the most creative of people. Practicalities also have to be considered. The UK is full of mismatched gardens that would offer so much more to their owners with a little design tweak here and there, and it’s no longer essential to fork out for a costly garden designer. If you have a smartphone or PC (and there are not many people who don’t), then there are plenty of apps and programs out there that not only make garden designing accessible to all but they are free as well. Here’s a look at some of the best.
The Garden Visualizer allows you to transform your design ideas into a 3D design. You can add your house and then fiddle with positioning everything until you create the perfect outside space. A similar tool comes in the form of Plan-a-Garden, an easy-to-use way of creating plans that you can print off and keep. If you can drag and drop, then you can use this tool. Garden Planner 3, meanwhile, is an online tool perfect for amateur landscape designers. You can use it without having to download software, but you will have to do this if saving your plans is on the agenda. Once downloaded, the set-up is pretty similar to other garden design tools.
If you like the idea of uploading a photo of your garden and then adding walls, footpaths, pots and plants to see how it would look, the Showoff Virtual Designer is the choice for you. This is so simple even computer-phobics won’t be outfoxed, and it is really easy to save and share the designs you create, allowing you to compare and get opinions at a later date. Shoot is a great site for plant schedules, plant research and networking with like-minded garden designers; it also has an easy-to-use garden design tool that is amongst the most intuitive you’ll find. Google Sketchup is another good choice. It’s used by professionals to design gardens, but you can download a free version that should be more than adequate for the amateur. SmartDraw is also a choice for both professionals and novices, and whilst it’s not strictly garden design software, you can use it to create a realistic picture of what your ideal outside space would look like. It’s great for designing decks and patios, and you can even add picnic tables, a barbecue and umbrellas. You can also get a free download of the professionally popular Realtime Landscaping Pro, which offers the chance to create 3D designs that look so impressive they could be real photographs.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the features on offer by My Gardena, a professional program allowing you to add everything from decks and patios to water features. Best of all, you can do a walkthrough of your ‘new garden’ in real time using impressive 3D technology. You could also try out Realtime Landscaping Architect for free, although you will have to pay if you want the full program. CAD knowledge is not required to use it, despite the fact that it delivers surprisingly professional-looking results.