Gold Award Winner
Realtime Landscaping Plus
866-894-4332
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ProsThis program has a user-friendly design and all the tools and features you need to create any landscape.
9.98
/ 10
9.00
/ 10
8.78
/ 10
8.18
/ 10
7.98
/ 10
7.90
/ 10
7.53
/ 10
7.33
/ 10
6.98
/ 10
6.83
/ 10
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Ease of Use

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Overall Ease of Use
A+
B+
B+
C-
B-
B-
B-
B-
C+
C
Learning Curve
A+
B
B
C
C+
C+
C+
C+
B-
C+
Navigation
A+
B+
B+
C-
B-
B-
B-
B-
C
C
Undo/Redo Buttons
Maximum Undo Steps
Unlimited
To Last Save
To Last Save
100
50
50
50
50
1
1
Search
Keyboard Shortcuts
Shopping List

Functionality

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Overall Functionality
A
B+
B
B
B
B-
B-
B-
C
C-
Topography Designer
3D Object Editing
Drag and Drop
Photo Import
Cost Estimator
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Preview Options

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2D/3D Design View
3D Preview
Seasonal Change Preview
Virtual Reality Preview
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Content

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Overall Content
A+
B+
B-
B
B-
B-
B-
B-
C
C-
Object Library
5300+
5000+
5000+
6500+
4700+
4700+
4700+
4700+
Undisclosed
Undisclosed
Plant Library
5100+
7500+
7500+
3600+
4000+
4000+
4000+
3800+
4600+
4600+
Samples
Plant Guide
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Specialty Assets

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House Builder
Topography Builder
Deck Builder
Patio
Pool
Fences
Characters

Help & Support

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Support Options
Phone/Email
Email/Paid Phone
Email/Paid Phone
Phone/Email
Phone/Email
Phone/Email
Phone/Email
Phone/Email
Email
Email
Video Tutorials
FAQs
Online Manual
Free Trial
Money Back Guarantee
Online Forums

Best Landscaping Software

Why Use Landscaping Software?

We spent more than 100 hours testing the best landscape design programs on the market. Based on our analysis, Realtime Landscaping Plus is our top pick. This program had no competition in our testing – it far surpassed the other programs, particularly in ease of use, features and tools. In addition, it has near-realistic graphics, which make it easy to picture how your yard will look when you’re done landscaping.

Our best value pick is Virtual Architect Home & Landscape. Although it fell short of Realtime Landscaping Plus in our tests, this program is very functional and proved to be relatively easy to use. The interface has a simple layout, which makes the program easy to navigate, and there are lots of tools and features to help in the design process. In addition, you’ll save about $30 off the price of our top pick.

With over 6,500 objects to choose from, Home Designer Suite has the most comprehensive library of all the landscaping software we reviewed. This means you can place a variety of items, such as decks, patios, swimming pools, benches, fountains, retaining walls and more, wherever you want in your plans. It also features more than 3,600 plants for your yard – not as many as some other programs but more than enough for most people.

Landscaping Software: What We Tested, What We Found

We purchased all 10 of the programs we reviewed and spent nearly 100 hours researching and testing them to find the best. Our testing methodology was simple: We created a new blank project in each program and attempted to create a landscape from scratch. Once completed, we customized it with whatever tools and objects were available. To make our tests fair, we didn’t watch any training videos beforehand – our goal was to see what it’s like to use and navigate each program without prior experience.

Our hands-on experiences gave us practical insight into each program. We discovered that the best programs excelled in ease of use, functionality, content, and help and support:

Ease of Use
Landscaping programs should be user-friendly – there's no point of having a lot of tools if it’s too hard to use them. Our top-rated program, Realtime Landscaping Plus, is by far the easiest to use. Its sleek interface and well-placed buttons make it easy to navigate and operate.

During testing, every other landscaping program we evaluated was difficult to use, and we had to reference training materials to figure them out. The least user-friendly programs were frustrating, with hundreds of buttons that made even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming.

Functionality
The most functional programs let you build a realistic-looking landscape. They have features that make the process simple such as drag-and-drop tools and options to customize the elements in your design. The most functional program we tested, Realtime Landscaping Plus, allows you to create your dream landscape with its wide variety of advanced features and customizable tools.

The best programs received a functionality score of B+ or above. In our tests, these programs had everything we needed to a create and modify a landscape. Any score lower than that indicates the program was overly simple. Even though these simple programs are easier to use, they don’t have enough tools and features to create a detailed landscape.

Content
Some programs have thousands of objects to choose from in their libraries, which makes it easy to replicate your vision. The applications with the best content, both in number and quality, received scores of a B+ or higher.

Lesser programs are quite limited, with only a few versions of objects like windows and plants. They also don’t have any customization features, which further limits your ability to recreate the landscape you want.

Help & Support
Since most landscape design programs are relatively complicated, you may run into questions as you use the software. Companies that provide resources like tutorial videos and live support make the learning process easier.

Based on our testing, it is important to note that programs made by the same developers are almost identical. If you're considering two versions of landscaping software made by the same developer, they likely have an identical interface with only minor and arbitrary differences.

Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick