Best Mac Landscaping Software of 2018

J.D. Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We have been reviewing Mac landscaping software since 2009, spending more than 200 hours testing and researching different software packages. The best Mac landscaping software we found was Punch Landscape Design for Mac. This program is easy to use, has a great selection of samples for inspiration and includes a sizable object library. Punch provides the tools to create 2D and 3D previews of your designs as well as provide convenient cost estimators and shopping lists for the day when you transform your design into reality.

Best Overall
Punch Landscape Design for Mac
Punch Landscape Design is an easy-to-use program. It has the tools you need to design your landscape and it can help you organize and plan for the materials you will need to create the design.
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Best Value
Home Designer Essentials
Home Designer Essentials gives you the tools you need not only to plan terrain, trees and other plants, but also the home that goes along with them.
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Easiest to Use
Garden Puzzle
Garden Puzzle is meant to be used for landscape and garden exclusively. There are no home design tools, but it is the easiest of all the programs we tested to learn and use. Its feature package is limited, but the included features it has are helpful and make design fun.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Price
Ease of Use
Functionality
Content
Help & Support
Overall Ease of Use
Learning Curve
Navigation
Undo/Redo Buttons
Maximum Undo Steps
Search
Keyboard Shortcuts
Shopping List
Overall Functionality
Topography Designer
Object Editing
Drag and Drop
Photo Import
Cost Estimator
3D Design View
2D Design View
3D Preview
Lighting Options
Overall Content
Object Library
Plant Library
Samples
Plant Guide
Patio
Deck
Pool
Fences
Support Options
Video Tutorials
Online Forums
FAQs
Online Manual
Free Trial
Money Back Guarantee
$59.99 Amazon
8.9 7.3 9.4 9.8 9.7 9.4
B
B
B
50
B+
B+
4700+
4000+
All
-
-
90 days
$59.99 Amazon
8.5 7.3 8.9 9.2 8.6 10
B-
B-
A
100
A
-
B
5000+
3000+
-
Email/Phone
-
Check Price
8 10 8.3 6.4 6.3 7.6
A+
A+
A+
Undo Only
5
-
-
C+
-
-
-
-
C
168
931
-
-
-
Email
-
-
-
$99.99 Amazon
7.9 4.7 8.9 9.2 9.5 10
B-
B-
A
100
A
-
B
6500+
3600+
Email/Phone
-
Check Price
7.8 4.7 9.4 8.8 9.3 9.3
B
B
B
50
B-
B
4700+
3800+
Email/Phone
-
-
30 days
Check Price
7.5 9 10 3.9 6.3 4.7
A
A
A
50
C
-
-
-
-
-
C
585
428
-
-
-
Email
-
-
-
-
$149.99 Amazon
7.2 1.3 9.4 10 10 9.4
B
B
B
50
A
A
4,870+
5000+
All
-
-
90 days
Check Price
7 1.3 9.4 9.7 9.5 9.3
B
B
B
50
B
B
4700+
3800+
Email/Phone
-
-
30 days
Best Overall
This program is great if you’re solely interested in making the outside of your house look good. This program pares its tools down to what you will need for beautifying the exterior of your home.
The simplified program is also easy to learn and use. With straightforward controls and a clean, intuitive interface, you can get started using the program immediately, though there is a learning curve. It’s natural that you could make some rookie mistakes as you’re learning the program, so it’s nice that can undo/redo up to 50 times. The controls are fairly simple with this program and there aren’t as many icons as you find with a home design landscaping program. You can hover over the icon to see what they do. The drag and drop capability of the software makes it easy to insert items into your creation. You can get 2D and 3D views and 3D previews of your work. However, one design limitation is you can only use the drag and drop tool to place objects while in the 3D design mode. This software includes a handy search function, which many programs lack, so you can search for a specific object or type of plant, for instance. Since the plant and object libraries contain 4,000 items each, it’s nice to be able to search through them quickly. There is also a PlantFinder tool that shows what vegetation thrives best in certain areas, as well as offering advice about soil, sunlight, climate and water requirements. Punch Landscape Design is equipped with keyboard shortcuts that, once you learn them, make the program easy to use and allow you to create landscapes quickly. You can customize the interface, so your work area is set up the way you want. You can either design from scratch or use templates to generate ideas. There is a shopping list that keeps track of things you will need to carry out your plans like bedding plants, boards and nails to build a gazebo.
Pros
  • With its emphasis on landscaping tools, it’s a great value.
  • It has a handy search function to look for specific objects.
  • There are keyboard shortcuts and customizable interface options to set it up the way you want.
Cons
  • There is no virtual reality preview with this software.
  • The plants are only in 2D mode.
  • You can only drag and drop in 3D mode.
$59.99Amazon
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Best Value
Any home or landscaping design software worth its salt is going to be costly. The most expensive ones we reviewed had price tags upwards of $150.
But those include home design tools, landscaping tools, object libraries with everything, including the kitchen sink. But you don’t need every feature for smaller projects. This is where programs like Home Designer Essentials and our top choice, Punch Landscape Design for Mac come in. These programs strip everything down to the essentials and still deliver a useful tool that lets you get the job done. Unlike Punch Landscape Design for Mac, Home Designer Essentials isn’t limited to landscaping features. You also get tools that can craft a home and fill it with furniture, appliances, electrical and heating components. It’s a much more comprehensive tool, that includes an object library with more than 5,000 items and a plant library with more than 3,000 trees, shrubs, flowers and more. And while that is impressive, Punch Landscape Design for Mac has about 1,000 more plants to choose from. Additionally, you don’t get a plant guide with this application – but one is available it its sister program Home Designer Suite, but that costs about $100 more.
Pros
  • Pro: It has tools for both landscaping and home design.
  • Large libraries of both objects and plants.
  • Includes a cost estimator.
Cons
  • Lacks a plant guide.
  • It has a steep learning curve.
  • The sample plans available are scarce compared to other programs.
$59.99Amazon
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Easiest to Use
Garden Puzzle is simple software that doesn’t require any training and you can start using it as soon as you have it downloaded on your computer.
It is the only landscape design software in our tests to get perfect marks for learning curve, navigation and overall ease of use. The interface has the right number of buttons to get you started, without causing confusion. It is strictly for landscape and garden design, so if you’re looking for a program that will only help you with the exterior of your home, this is a good choice. When it comes to overall functionality, however, it falls behind the other software in several areas. Its most noticeable limitation is the undo/redo feature. Other programs in our lineup let you undo and redo between 50 and 100 steps. This program lacks a redo button and will only let you go back five steps. Since Garden Puzzle is very straightforward, this feature may not be as vital as it is with other programs, but this does limit the flexibility of the software. It’s especially frustrating missing the ability to redo a step that you want to bring back. Another limitation is the lack of topography functionality. It only designs a flat landscape. You won’t be able to customize the elevation of your digital landscape and insert a ditch or a hill where those things exist in your yard. This, of course, isn’t a problem if you have a flat yard. With this program, you’re mostly limited to importing and editing a 2D photo of your yard or editing a simple 2D view of your yard. While there are no 3D views or design tools, it’s very easy to import and edit your own photos. You can drag and drop objects from the library or import your own objects. This program’s plant and object libraries are very limited when compared with most of the other programs, with 168 items, but this gives you plenty to work with.
Pros
  • It’s very affordable software that is extremely easy to use.
  • It’s strictly a program for landscaping and doesn’t have confusing home design elements.
  • You can import a photo of your yard and insert objects into the image.
Cons
  • There is no search function to find specific objects.
  • It only has an undo button, so you can’t redo steps.
  • There are no 3D views or topography functionality for hilly landscapes.
$19.00Garden Puzzle
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Most Comprehensive Program
Home Designer Suite is the older sibling of our best value pick: Home Designer Essentials. It’s the perfect program is you’re designing a whole home project.
It has all the great features of Essentials and much more. For example, a cost estimator keeps track of how much you’ll spend to make your designs come to life. Additionally, you can generate a 3D preview of your design, so you can see exactly what you’re getting. The object and plant libraries are also much larger, giving you about 600 more plants to choose from plus 1,500 more furniture options, appliances and more. Like most of the programs in our evaluation, this one has a pretty steep learning curve. You can’t just install it and create a two-story home. You’ll have to put in a lot of hours getting to know all its tools and features before you can use to its fullest potential.
Pros
  • It has advanced features like a cost estimator and 3D preview.
Cons
  • You’ll spend a lot of time learning its ins and outs.
$99.99Amazon
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Largest Plant Library
This program is an all-in-one design application that crafts your dream home from garden, to kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and everything in between.
And its object library is significantly larger than any other program in our evaluation. It has a total of 5,000 plants to choose from, so no matter where you live or what vegetation you want, it’s a near certainty it’s in this program. The biggest downside is that it’s the most expensive we reviewed. You’ll shell out about $150 for this program, that’s $90 more than the landscape-only version and $50 more than the comparable Home Designer Suite. However, it has a 90-day trial, so you can see if it’s worth the money.
Pros
  • There is a large plant library.
Cons
  • It is expensive.
$149.99Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

In addition to extensive testing of the software on our lab computers, we did extensive online research to both educate ourselves on how the software works and the most important features to look for. We communicated with all the developers of the various programs and we spoke with industry insiders and other professionals to get their help and hear expert opinions about the best landscaping software and features that can’t be overlooked.

We also reached out to expert landscape designers to see what programs they used and what advice they have for those trying to do it themselves.

We spoke to professional landscape designer Greg Tarsa, of Ogden, Utah. He cautioned us against laymen creating their own designs for several reasons. Chief among them is that casual users simply don’t have the knowledge necessary to make a successful design, “It’s hard to get a good quality planting design without knowledge or help from a local professional.”

He stressed that local environment was the chief factor standing in the way of non-professionals creating landscaping designs, “The hardest thing relating to planting is getting a good quality planting design that will work for the area they live in.

Of the usefulness of the programs themselves, Tarsa didn’t have any particular recommendations, “If you’re looking for design itself, you can get any of the software and get good results.”
So, if you do choose to go it alone with your landscape design, you’ll need to educate yourself not only on your local area’s plant eco system, but also on the local regulations that govern landscaping. We looked at several of the local municipal regulations near our offices and found detailed rules and guidelines for each.

For example, the Layton City Landscaping and Fencing code states their regulations are “to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the public; to facilitate the development of an orderly, attractive, and harmonious community, which provides the privacy necessary for a happy and convenient lifestyle; and to protect property values.”

You can read through Layton City’s regulations in just a few minutes, and the rules are fairly straightforward, though your local municipalities may be more complicated. That being said, you must educate yourself on what you are legally allowed to do with your property before you begin designing, and definitely before you make any alterations on your own.  

How We Tested

We purchased and tested 10 of the best Mac landscaping programs and spent over 45 hours using them to create a similar landscape design. We tested each program for ease of use, overall functionality, viewing options, content, help and support and specialty assets related to things like patio, deck and pool design. We also contacted developers with questions when we ran into problems we couldn’t fix and got an idea of how a customer might be treated in a similar situation. This real-world testing environment was the perfect backdrop for finding which landscape program works best for your needs. 

Other Standout Features in Mac Landscaping Software

Functionality & Ease of Use
Ease of Use is an important aspect of landscaping software. A confusing program with a poor design isn’t a lot of help to you and most people don’t have hours to spend watching training videos. This software isn’t designed for experts and should be easy to use. After a marginal learning curve, you should be navigating it like a pro.

Garden Planner and Garden Puzzle in particular were simple and extremely easy to use. It didn’t take any extensive training to navigate their simple and organized interfaces, but this simplicity came with a cost of having limited functionality. The best programs will let you create a realistic landscape using both 3D and 2D views. The most capable program we tested was Punch Home Design Studio for Mac. It has a wide variety of useful features and tools – but it’s also the most expensive.

Price
The amount of money you'll pay for a program like these will largely depend on what your intentions are. The price range among the products we reviewed was between $19 and $150. If you simply want to plan a garden, you can get away with Garden Puzzle or Garden Planner, which you can pick up for under $50

Content
Programs that have large object libraries open your options when creating your design. Limited object libraries don’t give you as much flexibility or let you tailor your design to your unique property. The object library should be both large and high quality, with realistic graphics that brings your design to life. The best programs also have specialty assets, such as decks or pools, that also help with customizing your design.

Help & Support
Professional landscape design software for Mac should have support that is accessible and helpful. This includes online resources such as FAQs or community forums, as well as telephone and email support. Programs that provide video tutorials are especially helpful as they can explain complex functions and show you exactly what to do.