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How Do I Choose the Best 3D Landscape Software?

Midrange 3D landscape software packages assist the self-employed landscape designer.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A healthy green makes almost any commercial or residential property more inviting; amateur and professional landscapers alike can work gardening magic with the aid of three-dimensional, or 3D, landscape software packages. Such software tools can make short work of dressing up a simple yard, a vast estate, or commercial property. Not only do these photo-realistic, computer-generated landscapes allow inspiration with none of the perspiration; they also assist designers and homeowners with estimates and maintenance schedules. Choosing the best 3D landscape software depends on the scope of the property and the frequency of use. Simple, user-friendly packages can assist homeowners with infrequent landscaping changes, while more powerful commercial products aid landscapers and architects with robust professional features.

Many 3D landscape software packages are priced for individuals and homeowners on a budget. Such types may feature ready-to-use design elements for users who don't have a lot of time to learn complex software. These may allow uninitiated users to quickly drag and drop virtual landscape elements and get to work designing their green space.

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Residential needs can differ markedly from commercial or professional needs; complex architectural programs could make the process so involved it might deter a homeowner simply trying to brighten up his or her yard. Software designed with residents in mind may feature proven designs from and for homeowners. With these handy computer tools and easy-to-understand interfaces, prior design experience may not be necessary. A person who previously had no sense of landscaping could suddenly find himself inundated with new ideas for making a truly unique garden, lawn, or patio space.

Midrange 3D landscape software packages assist the self-employed landscape designer or small firm. More specific, schematic customization of the landscape is possible for unique environments and conditions. These packages may also possess a scenery generator to help create landscape elements that are interchangeable with other digital formats, software, and architecture packages. Combined with home-design software, they permit more complete customization and a total design package. This can aid various parties or teams in visualizing interior and exterior spaces together before the first stone has been turned.

Software often differs according to ease of use, available formats, and cost. Other factors comprise the product's design realism, compatibility with different formats, and level of construction detail. Additionally, a software's library of templates, designs, and natural elements can greatly affect its value. Landscape architects might require not only photo-realistic landscapes in order to sell projects on emotional impact, but architectural accuracy to develop construction plans.

Whether standalone 3D landscape software products, or part of an overall interior and exterior design software suite, the right products are the ones that not only inspire, but work together. Determine also how much detailed information the software reference library should provide in selecting the proper plants for your soil and environmental conditions. Decide on the scope of your needs: whether you want the software for a one-time yard upgrade; for a bigger installation, such as patio, deck, or pond; or for selling any number of landscape projects for properties of small or large scales. No longer content with a simple green patch, you might find that you want a higher-end software package to accommodate a long-term, ever-changing landscaping passion.

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