When you want to breathe life into your outdoor designs, you’ll need the best landscape design software.
These design tools are built to bring outdoor spaces to life - from your first sparks of inspiration to a fully realized digital recreation. You don’t even need to be a graphic design wizard or CAD guru to master them. The focus is on effortlessly drawing out your ideas precisely the way you want them to look.
Landscaping apps pair well with interior design software that let you map out your perfect home. However, in some cases, there are design tools that blend the two, offering all-in-one packages, so you can create and customize everything inside and out.
Whether you’re a professional or a passionate enthusiast, there are plenty of 3D landscape design software, apps, and programs that simplify the creative process and help you get all your brilliant, beautiful, buzzing ideas onto the page.
We've reviewed a range of professional design tools, like the best architecture software and the best interior design software. We assess them on what users want: an easy-to-use experience, powerful tools, best prices, built specifically for the job.
We’ve selected the five best landscape design software tools for Windows and Mac, so you can create gardens that are perfect for you or your clients.
Realtime Landscaping Pro is a Windows-only landscape design software focused on helping outdoor space creation. If you need to design a room, or an entire house, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean you can’t create house exteriors. Realtime Landscaping Pro lets you add houses to your design. You just can’t venture inside them.
Using the program is a delight. The easy-to-follow interface offers a fluid experience, making it one of the best landscape design software suites.
Landscaping an entire area from scratch can take some time, but the landscape design tool helps speed up the process with the use of Wizards. You have a handful of them, helping you design everything from ponds to decking.
You have the option of fully customizing your chosen template, like building materials and size of individual elements. So, the landscaping program is both a time-saver to help you get started, and a launchpad to further your own creativity.
There’s no subscription plans here. Realtime Landscaping Pro offers bags of features to help you create the garden of your dreams. You can then upgrade to any new release for a discounted price.
Read our full Realtime Landscaping Pro review
FloorPlan Home & Landscape Deluxe is a complete digital interior design and landscaping program.
It’s a single package that offers the ability to create and furnish rooms, build custom cabinets, and design outdoor living spaces - the ideal landscaping tool for the full virtual home experience.
The Templates section is especially good. Here, you’ll find a vast selection of ready made groups of items, like a table and chairs, say, or a ready-made landscape section. It’s all there to help speed up the design process. There’s also a host of tools for creating truly accessible areas.
You can create designs in very little time. Fine tuning and customizing is just as easy, and it’s only marred by a potentially glitchy 3D interface where objects occasionally aren’t selected first time.
The best landscape design software is simple and intuitive to use - whether you’re a home user or professional contractor. And for the most part, FloorPlan delivers.
You’ll find loads of features designed to make the creation process more efficient. The help menu is only ever a click away, and the interface is friendly and inviting. Experience, then, is no barrier to professional 3D home and landscape designing.
Read our full FloorPlan 2021 Home & Landscape Pro review
DreamPlan is a landscaping app for Windows and Mac that offers great value for money and an easy user experience. But that’s what you’d expect from a program billed as ‘home design software for everyone’.
Like FloorPlan 2021, it combines home interior design and landscape design tools. This lets you perfect floor plans and build dream rooms.
On the landscaping side, you’ll plant trees, create swimming pools, and reshape terrain just the way you like it. The software comes with a vast library of plants and outdoor furniture that you’re free to customize.
You can choose between two versions depending on your use. DreamPlan Plus is for businesses, with unlimited, single-user commercial licensing. DreamPlan Home is for personal users. Both are one-off payments, so you won’t get tangled up into a subscription deal.
NCH’s offering is an excellent piece of landscape design software, helping you create a building on multiple levels, alter it, and customize it inside and out to your heart’s content.
Read our full DreamPlan review
Space Designer 3D is an online service, which means it’ll work from a browser and you won’t need to install it onto every computer you work on.
The main focus is interior design, but landscaping your garden is possible. There is a generous library of trees, plants, and flowers on offer for you to pepper throughout your terrain. You can’t alter the ground’s elevation, though, which limits you to perfectly flat gardens.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate, that might be enough to get you started in visualizing your outside space. If you’re a veteran designer looking for powerful creation tools, then it might not be the best landscape design software for you.
The program features a range of subscriptions to suit, with personal and commercial licensing options. Business is a bespoke subscription with prices depending on your needs.
There’s also a Casual plan, which lets you pay per project. But if you want to try before you buy as it were, check out the Demo option to get a feel for what the service offers.
Read our full Space Designer 3D review
Virtual Architect Ultimate with Landscaping and Decks Design 10 is an all-in-one package for creating stunning indoor and outdoor spaces.
The advanced landscape creation section is very flexible, enabling you to work on multiple elevations, create paths, and add lighting effects. There’s a large library of plants, arbors, and trellises for your garden. The complete plant encyclopedia boasts more than 7,500 entries and a seasonal plant care calendar. You can also add gazebos, fences, walls, and even sprinklers for ultimate realism.
In use, it’s a fairly intuitive landscape design app. But, there are a handful of clunky interface choices that mar an otherwise solid experience. Easing the burden on beginners, the software comes with a number of wizards. This includes one for quickly creating decks, potentially saving you a lot of time.
There’s no subscription fees for one of the best landscape design software suites. Just a one-off payment. However, the program is Windows-only, which may not suit your graphic design laptop.
How to choose the best landscape design software for you
When choosing which landscape design software is best, start by assessing your needs and skill-level. Are you a professional landscape designer or looking to improve your own outdoor space (or even maybe both)? Realtime Landscaping Pro is great for professionals, for instance, but TurboCAD’s FloorPlan is easy enough for beginners and home users.
Select which devices you’ll use. Certain landscaping design tools are Windows or Mac-only, others are available across platforms - while Space Designer 3D is a wholly browser-based design canvas.
You’ll also want to determine if you’re using software to design gardens or you need tools for interior design, too. Some of the best landscape design software offer both - although it can feel ‘tacked on’ in some instances. If you’re a pro, it may be best to focus on strict landscaping designers, creating home design interiors in a separate program.
How we test the best landscape design software
The best landscape design software should be easy to use, and packed with features and assets powerful enough to recreate your creativity on the screen.
Not all landscaping apps are the same, though - professional-grade and consumer-level design software offers different toolkits for different purposes. We believe it’s important to assess the individual merits of each one based on its audience.
Ultimately, we expect the very best landscape design software to allow your imagination flow across virtual outdoor spaces. It’s on this basis that we test and review the tools.
Find out more about how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.