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Garden design software, often known as landscape design software, helps gardeners plan and lay out their gardens. Most garden design software can be used to plan anything from a small flower bed or a raised vegetable garden to a full landscape design. Gardening software can usually accommodate both flat and 3D designs. Some programs use a grid, while others use a photo, or a 3D model. Some may offer the option of using either one.
One of the most desirable features of garden design software is the ability to create a landscaping plan using photos of a house or yard. A photo can be uploaded and then used as a base to which a gardener can add flowers, trees, shrubs, and other features. Users can experiment with different kinds of plants, and even add walkways, fences, water features, and a variety of other common garden elements. Often this is done by dragging and dropping items from a library of objects. Some programs have drawing tools so that users can create their own objects as well.
Most garden design software packages include a plant database to help users select appropriate plants for their climate and growing conditions. Many programs also offer gardening tips, sometimes customized for the gardener's region. Some software shows the progression of the selected plants through the seasons and years, so that users can get an idea of what a garden will look like as plants mature and go through seasonal changes. Often the design can be viewed from multiple angles in 3D.
There are a few free garden design applications, but most garden design software is not free. Windows® is the most common platform for landscaping software. There are some programs for Macintosh® operating systems, but very few that run in Linux®, except the few that are web-based and platform-independent. Garden design software is generally easy to find. It is available in large electronics stores and discount stores, and sometimes even in home improvement centers and plant nurseries.
Garden design software aimed at homeowners is not especially popular with avid home gardeners. Some people may enjoy using a pencil and paper to plan their gardens, and they might already own a library of gardening books with more information about individual plants than what is available in the software. It tends to be more expensive than other home design and decorating software, and consumer reviews often indicate dissatisfaction with usability and comprehensiveness.