We've researched the latest landscape design software, sifting through thousands of specs, features and user reviews to find the best landscape design software for your needs. Here's everything you need to know about Realtime Landscaping Pro.
Realtime Landscaping Pro is a professional-standard landscape design tool that's powerful enough for designers to use, but accessible and intuitive enough for homeowners to get to grips with too.
After designing an accurate model of the exterior of your house and its surroundings, Realtime Landscaping Pro enables you to visualize your landscape design plans in extraordinary detail. It will even calculate the necessary costings.
Realtime Landscaping Pro review: Price
Realtime Landscaping Pro is an affordable option if you need a powerful feature set to plan your next landscape design project: it retails for $99.95.
Idea Spectrum also produces a cheaper alternative: Realtime Landscaping Plus. For $20 less, you'll receive a similar feature set – but you won't have access to Realtime Landscaping Pro's selection of ponds, waterfalls, fountains and swimming pools. If water features will be a prominent part of your design, it's worth spending the extra.
There are two other versions catering to different ends of the market: Realtime Landscaping Architect is a full-service computer aided design (CAD) tool aimed squarely at industry pros, while Realtime Landscaping Photo is a more basic, entry-level tool that enables you to modify a photograph of your property. It is currently bundled for free with the other packages.
Realtime Landscaping Pro review: Design features
Realtime Landscaping Pro is packed with useful features, and it enables you to customize most aspects of your landscape design.
Change the size and color of individual objects, and using the built-in topography builder, you can sculpt the terrain to match the exact dimensions of your own back yard – including slopes, hills, trenches and more.
Toggle between a birds-eye-view plan of your landscape design, and a realistic 3D perspective. You can zoom in and out and position the camera to view your project from all angles.
There's also an immersive walkthrough mode, complete with realistic lighting, shadows, running water and moving leaves, to help you visualise how your finished garden will feel. You can also even integrate realistic animated 3D characters to show the garden in use.
Tailor the display to see how your garden will look in various conditions: at any time of day or night, and during different seasons. All of this can be captured as videos to share with friends and family.
It's a highly impressive feature set that makes Realtime Landscaping Pro hard to beat among landscape design tools – especially for less than $100.
Other versions: Photo; Plus; Architect
Plant library: 5,700 inc. 660 'UltraRes' plants
Total objects: 12,000
Customizable objects: Yes
Bespoke object design: Yes
Views: Birds-eye, perspective, walkthrough
House exterior: Yes
House interior: No
Sample designs: Yes
Cost estimates: Yes
Tutorial videos: Yes
Realtime Landscaping Pro review: Object library
There are 4,200 fully customizable non-plant items, such as tables, chairs, ornaments, lighting, walls and fences, as well as textures and materials such as pavers, mulch, brick, wood, concrete and stacked stone.
660 of these are specially enhanced 'UltraRes Plants', which can demonstrate realistic growth for a period of up to 20 years, and change their appearance according to the season. Select your location, and Realtime Landscaping Pro will recommend plants that will thrive in your particular climate.
There are 4,200 fully customisable non-plant items, such as tables, chairs, ornaments, lighting, walls and fences, as well as textures and materials such as pavers, mulch, brick, wood, concrete and stacked stone.
These include accurate models of real-life products that are available to purchase, with products by Jerith, Belgard, Philips Hadco, Unilock and many other brands. Realtime Landscaping Pro keeps track of everything on an itemized shopping list, saving time and effort.
If you choose Realtime Landscaping Pro rather than Realtime Landscaping Plus, an extensive range of water features are also available – which can be fully customized.
For more advanced users, bespoke objects can be designed from scratch using the built-in modelling tools – or you can import one of the millions of free 3D models available in SketchUp's online 3D Warehouse.
Realtime Landscaping Pro review: Ease of use
Realtime Landscaping Pro has an intuitive interface with large, clear icons, easy-to-navigate tabs and effective search tools that help you find exactly what you need inside its extensive object library.
Simply select and place an object, then scale to fit. And with unlimited undo and redo options, you can keep tweaking your design until it meets your needs.
Using the House Wizard, you can add a single or multi-storey building to your design simply by drawing the outline, adding doors and windows, and choosing materials and finishes. Only the exterior is modelled, so you can focus on the task at hand: your landscape design.
The Deck Wizard works in a similarly intuitive way, and supports a huge range of configurations and materials. If this seems daunting, or exact accuracy isn't required, Realtime Landscaping Pro also comes with an extensive range of house and deck templates to get you started.
Should you buy Realtime Landscaping Pro?
Yes. In Realtime Landscaping Pro, Idea Spectrum has managed to offer something for everyone, appealing both to home users getting started in landscape design, and to professional landscape designers. Absolutely packed with useful features that can scale to match your ambitions and skill with the software, Realtime Landscaping Pro is our pick for the best landscape design tool on the market right now.