Start a new thread

1 to 20 of 32 replies

Have looked at a few Apps on the Internet but none really appeal -Any ideas?


I've not found any free ones that were any use unfortunately.

What about Paid For ones?


I signed up for Sutton's vegetable planner when I was designing my potager.  Doesn't cost much and you get a design tool plus regular tips by email.   Some of these have been quite useful but the software itself can't cope with my 29m x 25m plot on screen or printing out all at once as allotments and veggie plots are usually smaller.


Papi Jo says:

Why do people insist on getting a piece of software for free? Would you dream of getting plants, tools,etc for free at your  garden centre? 

See original post

 Because we'd rather spend the money on plants.  There is so much very good, free software out there for many applications it would be daft not to ask if there is anything out there for garden design.  Sadly the answer does seem to be 'No'.

There isnt anything free as to be truly useful it would have to be quite sophisticated and have a large amount of internal resource e.g. Plant database etc. 

It may be that you need to break down what it is you want to use the app for as there may be something suitable just not labelled as for garden design -  is it a tool to help design spaces and structures to scale, or is  it planting designs and plant data which you want?

Google have a 3d package called sketch-up - not easy to use without practice but there are user guides available and it can be used to create plans and 3D designs. It's not specifically for gardens but obviously can be used for that. It has some plant images available as well, some professional designers use it instead of buying a CAD package. I haven't looked at it for some time but am sure it is still available - there was always a paid for pro version as well as the free one.

Alternatively not an app but if you have access to excel than you could format the cells to be squares (by having matching column and line widths) and then use this as your squared paper to draw to scale. Obviously has limits re shapes etc but may help check scale and dimensions.

Am not aware of any apps or packages for planting design with embedded databases of plants. I keep meaning to explore some if the plant apps available but haven't got round to it yet, but I think most are for identifying plants rather than design?

There was a GW BBC free software some years ago but is was very clunky and not terribly useful, I guess the fact they don't offer it now free or to buy suggests it's not cost effective to develop anything other than the various garden planner tools on offer.


Maybe I'm just an old cynic? ( as if ? ) but why do some folk expect stuff that's really good to be given away for free?

Surely if it's any good, the person / people who spent time effort and money on it  will want a return on that investment?

Am I missing something?


There's usually a trial at least for free on most apps, not sure whether they apply to the gardening ones or not, to ensure you are happy/able to operate them before making the purchase. Are you after PC software or a Phone app? 

Last edited: 28 June 2017 09:43:28

Hostafan1 says:

Maybe I'm just an old cynic? ( as if ? ) but why do some folk expect stuff that's really good to be given away for free?

Surely if it's any good, the person / people who spent time effort and money on it  will want a return on that investment?

Am I missing something?

See original post

 Maybe missing the freemium business model. I'm not saying it would work for garden design software but it is the reason why much high quality software is offered free.

Can I just repeat that there IS free 2D/3D modelling software for design and it's called sketch up, link below

Its not an app and it isn't labelled as specifically garden design as like most of the professional packages it can be used for any design purpose eg architecture, lighting, theatre etc as well as for gardens.

However it isn't an app as obviously given the functionality it's quite memory hungry.

You could use this for creating planting planting ing plans but it only has a limited image library and you would have to decide how to use the functionality to build up your plans as it doesn't have dedicated tools or functions for this. If memory serves me right you can upload your own photos into it and you can of course create your own 3D plants although not for the faint hearted. I think there is a Sketch-up for Dummies guide which probably provides a good grounding in how to use the software.

OUCH!!! I'm not mean as intimmated, just not good with technology and I do not want to spend out on something that I do not understand. Quite happy to pay if it fits the bill. I have half an acre of lawn and gravel, so a joyful blank canvas. I have started with structural planting, but need ideas to infill vast tracts of green and gravel, playing with shapes -light and shade. I just felt an App would help. Better House and Gardens do a nice one, but I was looking for alternatives.

Hi Chloe,  Many professional garden designers use sketch up either the free version or the pro for presenting 3D design images. Anither mainstream professional CAD package in the UK is Vectorworks which is similarly architecturalply focused as well as having specific landscaping add ons.  Either package can be used for small or large landscaping schemes. And as already said the free version of sketch up has less functionality and therefore less landscaping specific elements than the paid for pro version.

Last edited: 28 June 2017 21:41:15

I did a quick search for professional garden design software.  One from the USA is over £1000, and the other UK based product is pricing on request (which to me translates as very expensive).

Papi Jo


So you have a 2,000 m² area of lawn and gravel as a blank canvas. I don't think what you need urgently is a piece of garden design software (especially is you are "not good with technology" in your own terms). I would advise seeking advice from a professional garden designer. They usually have a whole range of formulas to choose from, with a wide range of costs. Alternatively you might contact a reliable nursery. If you plan to place a sizeable order for plants, you will get a garden plan into the bargain.

Whatever you do, I strongly advise making a plan. I'm amazed by the fact that no-one these days would dream of building a house without consulting with an architect and drawing plans, but people create gardens by planting trees, shrubs etc. haphazardly with no plan.



Dare I suggest using a Garden Designer?

No app is going to factor in such things as , budget, site issues such as levels, soil conditions, climatic conditions, long term maintenance, building / planning regulations for any structural work etc etc etc.

Thanks for all the great advice. Have found 2 good american sites as only want ideas to work from as have made 3 gardens from scratch before. This is just a fun challenge. -I moved with 310 plants instead of the 60 chosen! Rose Garden is in. Raised beds are in. Back Flower Border for Spring and Autumn is in. Fruits Bed is in -Now  am challenged with S/W facing bank with dry neutral clay soil. and I would like to do something with the gravel area which surrounds the house. Only been here 2 months so have a achieved alot and all 310 plants in!! So far have added Rock Roses/Day Lilies/Teddy Bear Conifers/Grasses/Red Hot Pokers/Geums/and potentillas to bank plus Azaleas for height. All very happy.

Papi Jo

Ah, you had not mentioned in your previous posts that you were an experienced gardener. So you put more than 300 plants in within 2 months, quite an achievement!

We are looking forward to pictures of your garden. And what are those US sites you mention in your post?

Papi Jo -Sorry for Silence. If someone can tell me how to upload photos from Picassa to this site -I will happily show you what I have done before. It is the Bank and the Gravelled Area which are new to me. Tablet with computer technician so have lost US site info -Will give details to you asap.


Have you tried Shoot gardening's planner? I was thinking of trying it, there is a free trial with limited plants etc. The full version is £36 a year. Looks like you can add plants and directory contains 10,000.