PROS / Home & Landscape Design offers next-generation technology that can help you build a more energy-efficient home.
CONS / The breadth of this software's landscaping details is limited because it focuses on home design as well.
VERDICT / This all-encompassing software allows you to design more but with smaller library sets of plants and architecture.
Editor's note: A newer version of this product is available. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the Landscaping Software reviews.
Home & Landscape Design from Punch Software offers NexGen Technology, which helps you build a "greener" home or remodel your current home for maximum energy efficiency through tips and tutorials. Combined with the ability to design both a custom landscape and the home itself, Punch Home & Landscape Design fits well in our lineup of top-rated home landscaping design software.
Visually, the home landscape designs you will render with this software are quite good. They're not quite as clean and vivid as found in the top products, but it's plenty to help you turn great front and backyard designs into a realistic home.
Punch's QuickStart system helps you build your home in less than a minute. Drag, drop and resize room templates to form a rough approximation of your home, and you're ready to begin landscaping. If you need to further customize the home design, whether for your own needs or a client's, it's easy to add every window, door and terrain feature quickly. If you need to get to a more granular level, you can specify the exact dimensions of each individual part of the whole; whether walls, doors, window treatments or lighting, and each element can be scaled to proper size.
Designing homes and landscapes on a computer requires a little bit of effort on the user's part, as there are terms, tools and concepts that might be foreign to some. Thankfully, Home & Landscape Design includes a slew of helpful video tutorials that will both help you get started and elaborate on the various tools and concepts inherent to 3D home and landscape design software.
With Home & Landscape Design, you have three avenues to take when digitizing your design: QuickStart, templates, or importing a picture of your home using the PhotoView Power Tool and then landscaping around it.
With QuickStart, you can rough in the dimensions of your home. It's a simple way to design the home that you'll be landscaping. Just drag and drop preset room templates onto a grid, and in less than a minute you can have a two- and three-dimensional home design.
If you'd rather build off a template, you can use any one of the 21 professionally designed home and landscape plans included. They are all fully editable.
You can use the PhotoView Power Tool to put a picture of your house in Home & Landscape Design, and see the possibilities in minutes as you add plants, trees, shrubs, water features and more to the design. However, keep in mind that there are no garden templates, so you will have to form a definite idea of what kind of garden landscape design you want to implement before you design it yourself.
Once you have the basic home design, you can add pits, earthen berms and fencing, then put gazebos, trellises and just about anything you can think of in your yard. Home & Landscape Design allows 2D editing and limited 3D editing. The object library is huge, and again, this is landscape in addition to home design software, so in addition to trellises, shrubs and pools, it also has kitchen cabinets, interior furniture and bathroom fixtures. It's literally two products in one.
There is a limited selection of plants and outdoor features when compared with landscaping-only software so you may want to find out whether what you will need is in the software’s object library.
The paper instruction manual is gigantic, the application help is deep and detailed, and the video tutorials guide you through the interface steadily and at the proper pace. We really liked how each interface element was defined, then its function demonstrated. It clarifies a lot of questions for the beginning landscape and home designer. If you still have questions, Punch has online forums where you can interact with other Punch Software users and employees alike.
Even if you discount the included home design features, Home & Landscape Design is still a quality landscape design product, with flexibility and power available for a fraction of the price of other landscaping software. If you are looking to update your home or build a new one and want to think about landscaping as you do it, this product does a good job of each step in the process.