The Best Landscape Design Software

Design novices and experts alike will find our top pick, SmartDraw, easy to use

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Photo comp of computer landscape design

The Spruce / Design by Amelia Manley

In the past, landscape design software was mainly used by industry professionals to present their plans to clients. Nowadays, it's much more common for homeowners to create their own outdoor oasis in one of these programs before bringing in a landscaper to help execute the vision—or before tackling the project themselves.

When looking for the best landscape design software on the market, we awarded extra points to programs that offer customers a free demo or trial period to test out the features before they commit. Though not all software fits the bill, we tried to highlight options that are compatible with more than one operating system, making them accessible to a wider audience. If you're ready to plan out your dream yard, here are the programs we recommend.

Best Landscape Design Software of 2022

Best Overall: SmartDraw

SmartDraw

SmartDraw

Key Specs

Cost: $120–$2,995/year

Free Trial? Yes

Device Compatibility: Mac, Windows, iOS, & Android

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Simple drag-and-drop tools and pre-designed templates

  • Large catalog of objects, including plants, flowers, and the like

  • Seven-day free trial

  • Relatively inexpensive for a single user

Cons
  • No 3D graphics

Why We Chose It

One of the reasons SmartDraw tops our list of landscape design software is its intuitive templates for yards, decks, pools, gardens, and more. The interface is easy to navigate and users can either tweak existing plans or build their designs from scratch. There are thousands of items that can be dropped into your template from the object library, including features like curved pathways, irrigation elements like sprinkler systems, and specific species of plants. 

The program's shareable link feature allows other people to view your project as you work on it, and they can even contribute to the design if they have their own SmartDraw account. The software also outranks its competitors in the compatibility category: Homeowners can work on their creations across Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Plus, SmartDraw's monthly fee comes out to about $10 per month for a single user, which is on the cheaper side for paid plans.

Best for Decks & Patios: Chief Architect Home Designer Software

Chief Architect landscape

Chief Architect

Key Specs

Cost: $129–$595 (one-time fee)

Free Trial? Yes

Device Compatibility: Mac & Windows

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Specific deck, landscape, and terrain tools

  • Three software options

  • Large support hub

  • Free trial

Cons
  • Does not work on mobile devices

Why We Chose It

The Home Designer Software series from Chief Architect is the best choice for homeowners looking to redo their deck or patio. Users can customize materials and various design elements, such as planking and railings. The program will generate cut and buy lists based on your plans, so if you're a DIYer, it'll tell you exactly what you need to make your ideas a reality. Add as many 3D models, including outdoor furniture and appliances, as you want to better visualize the final product.

There are three different versions to choose from: Suite ($129), Architectural ($249), and Professional ($595). Each program comes with tools that'll help you create a backyard paradise, but most homeowners should be satisfied with the basic functionality of Home Designer Suite. The software also has interior design capabilities, making it a great investment if you plan to remodel other parts of your home down the line.

Best for iOS Devices: iScape

iScape best landscape design software

iScape

Key Specs

Cost: $0–$30/month

Free Trial? No, but there is a free version

Device Compatibility: iOS

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Ability to upload your own photos

  • Thousands of landscape products available at your fingertips

  • Straightforward design tools

  • Option to hire a landscape designer within the app

Cons
  • Not compatible with Android

  • Features in the free version are limited

Why We Chose It

If most of your designing will be done on an iPhone or iPad, iScape is the way to go. The app lets you add landscaping elements directly onto images of your own yard so that you can immediately see the transformation. And if you'd like your partner or an industry professional to weigh in, you can share the project with others directly from your phone. You'll also have access to a running list of everything that's been incorporated into the design.

Though iScape is only available on iOS, the functionality across these devices is solid. The program has a strong 4.6 stars out of 5 on the App Store, and the free version gives you an opportunity to play around with the tools before you upgrade to the paid plan. In order to create anything beyond a basic design, users must pay for the Pro package, which costs about $30 a month.

Best 3D Visuals: VizTerra

VizTerra

VizTerra

Key Specs

Cost: $97/month

Free Trial? Yes

Device Compatibility: Windows

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Seamlessly converts 2D designs into 3D

  • Huge 3D object library, plus the option to create custom models

  • Free trial available

  • Advanced tools for decks, fences, railings, and more design elements

Cons
  • Costly setup fee and monthly charges

  • Not compatible with Mac or mobile devices

Why We Chose It

If you have trouble visualizing what your designs will look like, VizTerra solves that problem with its incredibly realistic 3D graphics. In addition to being able to edit actual photographs of your property, you'll have access to thousands of items that will enhance your digital blueprint, including trees, plants, decking, and furniture. You can also create your own models if you can't find the objects you need.

Even if you're not doing a complete landscape overhaul, the software lets you work in stages and calculate the material costs as you go. Though VizTerra is expensive—it's priced at $97 per month, plus you're required to pay a one-time setup fee of $95—you won't find a more customizable exterior design program. Prospective users can always test out the tools by signing up for a free trial. However, it's important to note that you must have a Windows operating system to use VizTerra.

Best Photo Features: PRO Landscape

PRO Landscape best landscape design software

PRO Landscape

Key Specs

Cost: $1,495 (one-time fee)

Free Trial? No

Device Compatibility: Windows, iPad & Android tablets

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Sophisticated 3D rendering tools

  • Can be accessed on up to three devices

  • Object library uses real images

  • Free lifetime tech support

Cons
  • Expensive

  • No free trial

Why We Chose It

Yes, the price of PRO Landscape is scary, but once it's downloaded, you have it for life. Plus, one user license works across two computers and an iOS or Android tablet through the software's Companion app. As for features, the program's imaging capabilities show why it's so expensive. The software can turn any design into a professional-level drawing or blueprint and allows you to import your own photos.

If you're having trouble editing images, PRO Landscape will manipulate them for you at no extra cost. There’s also a library of more than 18,000 objects that can be added to your designs, including plants—which are labeled with climate requirements. Though there isn't a free trial for this software, you can sign up for a live demo and purchases come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Final Verdict

When picking out landscape design software, comparing features is an essential step in the process. Programs like VizTerra and Home Designer Software have extensive 3D libraries and visualization tools, while PRO Landscape's unique multi-device access lets you work from more than one screen. Mobile users will appreciate the functionality of the iScape app, but overall, the best landscape design software is SmartDraw.

SmartDraw is streamlined enough for beginners yet sophisticated enough to appeal to true experts. Multiple users can easily collaborate on projects through the use of shared folders, and the program is compatible with most operating systems. It’s also one of the more affordable options on the market.

FAQ
  • What Is Landscape Design Software?

    Landscape design software programs are computer-, tablet-, or mobile-based platforms that help users visualize and execute landscaping projects. Many include object libraries so that you can outfit your design with all of the plantings, decking, and furniture you plan to incorporate.

  • How Much Does Landscape Design Software Cost?

    If you're renting software, prices can range from $10 to $100 a month. If you're buying the program, expect to pay over $100, though professional-grade software can cost well over $1,000.

  • Is There a Free Landscaping App?

    iScape does have a free version of its iOS app, but it doesn't provide full access to the software's database. The free version is really meant more for casual users who aren't investing in a big project. While DreamPlan's free home design software does have some light landscaping tools, it's better for building decks and pools.

Methodology

To find the best landscape design software from a list of 15 programs, we considered the following factors:

  • Usability
  • Available features
  • Price
  • Device compatibility
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Access to resources
  • Free trial option

Our research team also factored in whether anyone buying the software could easily learn how to use the program without prior experience. We ultimately picked SmartDraw as our best overall software because it's user friendly, compatible with both mobile and desktop, and relatively affordable.