How to do landscape design?

Landscape Architects

How to Become a Landscape Architect

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Landscape architects usually need a degree in landscape architecture and a state-issued license, which typically requires completion of an internship.

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Landscape Architect Education

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture is usually necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate landscape architect professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These programs usually require 4 to 5 years of study.

Accredited programs are approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). Those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture may enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.

Courses typically include surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other relevant coursework may include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, geology, professional practice, and general management.

The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.

Landscape Architect Training

To become licensed, candidates must meet experience requirements determined by each state. A list of training requirements can be found at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.

New hires may be called intern landscape architects until they become licensed. Although duties vary with the type and size of the employing firm, interns typically must work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect for the experience to count toward licensure. Potential landscape architects may benefit by completing an internship with a landscape architecture firm during educational studies. Interns may improve their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including learning how to recruit clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Landscape Architects

All states except for Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maine require landscape architects to be licensed in order to practice. Licensing is based on candidates passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.

Candidates who are interested in taking the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school and a few years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by state. For those without an accredited landscape architecture degree, many states offer alternative paths—which usually require more work experience—to qualify to take the LARE.

In addition to the LARE, some states have their own registration exam to test for competency on state-specific issues, such as earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida. State-specific exams may focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and other characteristics unique to the state.

Because requirements for licensure vary, landscape architects may find it difficult to transfer their registration from one state to another. Common requirements include graduating from an accredited program, completing several years of an internship under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, and passing the LARE. By meeting national requirements, a landscape architect may also obtain certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, which may be useful in getting a license in another state.

Important Qualities for Landscape Architects

Analytical skills. Landscape architects must understand the content of designs. When designing a building’s drainage system, for example, landscape architects must understand the interaction between the building and the surrounding land.

Communication skills. Landscape architects share their ideas, both orally and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Effective communication is essential to ensuring that the vision for a project gets translated into reality.

Creativity. Landscape architects create the overall look of gardens, parks, and other outdoor areas. Their designs should be both pleasing to the eye and functional.

Problem-solving skills. When designing outdoor spaces, landscape architects must be able to provide solutions to unanticipated challenges. These solutions often involve looking at challenges from different perspectives and providing the best recommendations.

Technical skills. Landscape architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs to create representations of their projects. Some also must use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for their designs.

Visualization skills. Landscape architects must be able to imagine how an overall outdoor space will look once completed.

Landscape Architect

All states require landscape architects to be licensed, except for Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and the District of Columbia. In addition, all 50 states (but not the District of Columbia) require applicants to be licensed before they can use the title “landscape architect” and start soliciting business. Licensing requirements vary among states, but usually include a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school, internship experience, and a passing score on the Landscape Architect Registration Exam.

Education

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture usually is necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate landscape architect professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These programs usually require 4 years of study.

Accredited programs are approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). Those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture can enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.

Courses typically include surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other courses include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, geology, professional practice, and general management.

The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.

Training

In order to become licensed, candidates must meet experience requirements determined by each state. A list of training requirements can be found at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.

New hires are called apprentices or intern landscape architects until they become licensed. Although duties vary with the type and size of the employing firm, all interns must work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect for the experience to count towards licensure. In addition, all drawings and specifications must be signed and sealed by the licensed landscape architect.

Some employers recommend that prospective landscape architects complete an internship with a landscape architecture firm during their educational studies. Interns can improve their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including how to win clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require landscape architects to be licensed in order to practice except for Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and the District of Columbia. In addition, all 50 states (but not the District of Columbia) require applicants to be licensed before they can use the title “landscape architect” and start soliciting business. Licensing is based on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Candidates can take the L.A.R.E. at different times of the year.

Those interested in taking the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school and 1 to 4 years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by state. For those without an accredited landscape architecture degree, many states provide alternative paths to qualify to take the L.A.R.E., usually requiring more work experience.

Currently, 13 states require landscape architects to pass a state exam, in addition to the L.A.R.E., to satisfy registration requirements. State exams focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and other characteristics unique to the state.

Because requirements for licensure vary, landscape architects may find it difficult to transfer their registration from one state to another. Common requirements include graduating from an accredited program, completing 3 years of an internship under the supervision of a registered landscape architect, and passing the L.A.R.E. By meeting national requirements, a landscape architect can also obtain certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. That certification can be useful in getting a license in another state.

Landscape Architects – What They Do

People enjoy attractively designed gardens, public parks and playgrounds, residential areas, college campuses, shopping centers, golf courses, and parkways. Landscape architects design these areas so they are not only functional but also beautiful and harmonious with the natural environment. They plan the location of buildings, roads, and walkways, and the arrangement of flowers, shrubs, and trees. They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans, such as wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas, and forested land.
Working with building architects, surveyors, and engineers, landscape architects help determine the best arrangement of roads and buildings. They also collaborate with environmental scientists, foresters, and other professionals to find the best way to conserve or restore natural resources. Once these decisions are made, landscape architects create detailed plans indicating new topography, vegetation, walkways, and other landscaping details, such as fountains and decorative features.
In planning a site, landscape architects first consider the purpose of the project and the funds available. They then analyze the natural elements of the site, such as the climate, soil, slope of the land, drainage, and vegetation. They also assess existing buildings, roads, walkways, and utilities to determine what improvements are necessary. At all stages, they evaluate the project’s impact on the local ecosystem.
After studying and analyzing the site, landscape architects prepare a preliminary design. To address the needs of the client, as well as the conditions at the site, they frequently make changes before a final design is approved. They also take into account any local, State, or Federal regulations, such as those protecting wetlands or historic resources. In preparing designs, computer-aided design (CAD) has become an essential tool for most landscape architects. Many landscape architects also use video simulation to help clients envision the proposed ideas and plans. For larger scale site planning, landscape architects also use geographic information systems (GIS) technology, a computer mapping system.
Throughout all phases of planning and design, landscape architects consult with other professionals, such as civil engineers, hydrologists, or building architects, involved in the project. Once the design is complete, they prepare a proposal for the client. They produce detailed plans of the site, including written reports, sketches, models, photographs, land-use studies, and cost estimates and submit them for approval by the client and by regulatory agencies. When the plans are approved, landscape architects prepare working drawings showing all existing and proposed features. They also outline in detail the methods of construction and draw up a list of necessary materials. Landscape architects then monitor the implementation of their design, while general contractors or landscape contractors usually direct the actual construction of the site and installation of plantings.
Some landscape architects work on a variety of types of projects. Others specialize in a particular area, such as street and highway beautification, waterfront improvement projects, parks and playgrounds, or shopping centers. Still others work in regional planning and resource management; feasibility, environmental impact, and cost studies; or site construction. Increasingly, landscape architects work in environmental remediation, such as preservation and restoration of wetlands or abatement of stormwater run-off in new developments. Historic landscape preservation and restoration is another area where landscape architects increasingly play a role.
Landscape architects who work for government agencies do site and landscape design for government buildings, parks, and other public lands, as well as park and recreation planning in national parks and forests. In addition, they may prepare environmental impact statements and studies on environmental issues such as public land-use planning.
Work Environment
Landscape architects spend most of their time in offices creating plans and designs, preparing models and cost estimates, doing research, or attending meetings with clients and other professionals involved in a design or planning project. The remainder of their time is spent at the site. During the design and planning stage, landscape architects visit and analyze the site to verify that the design can be incorporated into the landscape. After the plans and specifications are completed, they may spend additional time at the site observing or supervising the construction. Those who work in large national or regional firms can spend considerably more time out of the office traveling to sites.
Although many landscape architects work approximately 40 hours per week, about 1 in 5 worked more than 50 hours per week in 2008, as long hours and work during nights and weekends is often necessary to meet deadlines.
Education & Training Required
A bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture usually is necessary for entry into the profession. Sixty-seven colleges and universities offered undergraduate or graduate programs in landscape architecture that were accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2009. There are two undergraduate professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These programs usually require 4 or 5 years of study for completion. Those who hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture can enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study to complete. Those who hold undergraduate degrees in landscape architecture can earn their MLA in 2 years.
Courses required in these programs usually include subjects such as surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other courses include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, geology, professional practice, and general management. The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design, model building, geographic information systems, and video simulation.
Many employers recommend that prospective landscape architects complete a summer internship with a landscape architecture firm during their formal educational studies. Interns are able to hone their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including how to win clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.
Certifications Needed (Licensure)
As of 2009, there were 49 States that required landscape architects to be licensed. Licensing is based on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.), sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, and administered in two portions, a graphic portion and a multiple-choice portion. Applicants wishing to take the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school plus 1 to 4 years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by State. For those without an accredited landscape architecture degree, most states provide alternative paths to qualify to take the L.A.R.E., usually requiring more work experience. Currently, 13 States require that a State examination be passed in addition to the L.A.R.E. to satisfy registration requirements. State examinations focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and any other characteristics unique to the State.
Because requirements for licensure are not uniform, landscape architects may find it difficult to transfer their registration from one State to another. National standards include graduating from an accredited program, serving 3 years of internship under the supervision of a registered landscape architect, and passing the L.A.R.E. can satisfy requirements in most States. By meeting national requirements, a landscape architect can also obtain certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards which can be useful in obtaining reciprocal licensure in other States.
In States where licensure is required, new hires may be called “apprentices” or “intern landscape architects” until they become licensed. Their duties vary depending on the type and size of the employing firm. They may do project research or prepare working drawings, construction documents, or base maps of the area to be designed. Some are allowed to participate in the actual design of a project. However, interns must perform all work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect. Additionally, all drawings and specifications must be signed and sealed by the licensed landscape architect, who takes legal responsibility for the work. After gaining experience and becoming licensed, landscape architects usually can carry a design through all stages of development.
A majority of States require some form of continuing education to maintain a license. Requirements usually involve the completion of workshops, seminars, formal university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other classes.
The Federal Government does not require its landscape architects to be licensed. Candidates for entry positions with the Federal Government should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture.
Other Skills Required (Other qualifications)
People planning a career in landscape architecture should appreciate nature, enjoy working with their hands, and possess strong analytical skills. Creative vision and artistic talent also are desirable qualities. Good oral and written communication skills are essential. Landscape architects must be able to convey their ideas to other professionals and clients and to make presentations before large groups. Landscape architects must also be able to draft and design using CAD software. Knowledge of computer applications of all kinds, including word processing, desktop publishing, and spreadsheets is also important. Landscape architects use these tools to develop presentations, proposals, reports, and land impact studies for clients, colleagues, and superiors.
Many landscape architects are self-employed. Self-discipline, business acumen, and good marketing skills are important qualities for those who choose to open their own business. Even with these qualities, however, some may struggle while building a client base.
Landscape Architects – What They Do – Page 2

Academic Programs of Interest

Architect

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and other physical structures. A wider definition often includes the design of the total built environment from the macro level of town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture to the microlevel of construction details and, sometimes, …more

Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is the art, planning, design, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land and the design of human-made constructs. The scope of the profession includes architectural design, site planning, housing estate development, environmental restoration, town or urban planning, …more

Landscape Design: Seven Tips for Beginners

If you’ve never tackled a landscape design before, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices you can make. But, if you think of it as a room inside your home, it makes it a lot easier. The same principles that guide your room setup inside should guide your designs outside, too. You know how to put together a room—so your landscape should be no problem! Here are seven landscape design ideas for beginners.

Image zoom Laurie Black

1. Determine Landscape Needs and Wants

Make a list of needs and wants. Do your kids need a play space? Do you want to grow vegetables? Would your family gather on a patio? Do some very rough sketches of the yard with thoughts of where you want to place things; it’s a great organizing principle for landscape design for beginners. They don’t need to be master plans (they can just be ideas), according to Marianne Lipanovich, author of the Big Book of Garden Designs. Her sketch for her front yard landscape design overhaul was just a few lines and a couple of circles. You can easily play around with ideas without a lot of time and commitment.

Image zoom Andreas Trauttmansdorff

2. Think About Location

Study the sun and wind patterns. You might want to place a patio on the west side of the house, but it will get lots of afternoon sun, which means dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing—just hot. And wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. Those are common mistakes in backyard landscape design for beginners. Your design should take into account what the sun and wind do at different times of the day and year.

3. Sit Down and Enjoy Your Landscape

Live with it for a while. Coming to quick conclusions about your yard can lead to choices that don’t work in the long term. After spending more time outdoors, you’ll start to see areas where you want to go and sit that you wouldn’t have thought of at first, Lipanovich says.

Image zoom Tria Giovan Photography, Inc.

4. Start Small

Home and garden television shows are masters at revealing complete outdoor makeovers in just three days—but they have a crew of 60, which is not a situation enjoyed by most beginner gardeners. Part of creating a landscape is slowly developing a plan and enjoying the process. From your master plan, start with a small flower bed. Go out and work on it for an hour or two when you have the time, and worry less about filling everything up right away. Lipanovich advises that you take your time, so you don’t take shortcuts or get too sloppy with your DIY landscape design.

5. Find a Focal Point

Any good garden design has a focal point or series of focal points, and it’s an easy principle to put in place in landscape design for beginners. That may be a sculpture or a stunning plant, a tree, or a series of shrubs. Let the design draw your eyes around the landscape, Lipanovich says.

Image zoom

6. Focus on Scale and Pacing

It’s the trickiest principle in landscape design for beginners, but scale and pacing give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and color, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space. Lipanovich emphasizes the importance of finding a good balance between repetition and new elements. Repetition gives a sense of cohesion, but you also don’t want it to be monotonous. An occasional new element is better than having all different elements throughout.

7. Be Open to Change

Unless you’re strongly devoted to something, be honest about what you like—and what may fall out of favor. Even Lipanovich has found herself discovering elements she once liked that no longer reflects her style—it’s okay to take those out and try something new.

Remember: Patience is key to landscape design for beginners. If all of that bare space is too much to look at, and the kids and dogs are tracking in mud, rely on temporary solutions—annuals, mulch, fast-growing ground covers—to cover an area while you’re figuring out what you want. Lipanovich recommends relying on annuals and small perennials as you’re waiting for larger plants to fill in. You can always move them if you realize they’re in the wrong spot later on.

  • By Kelly Roberson

You can join me and my sister over on Sm…..(laughing).

Hey guys its Phil from Smilingardener.com. If you haven’t checkout out my free online organic gardening course you can do that right on the homepage of Smilinggardener.com.

Today we’re talking about home landscape design. If you’re designing your own landscape one thing that a lot of people will do is just go to the garden center and buy all the plants that look nice and then get back home and start placing them and hope that it works out okay.

A much better process is to figure out your goals and do some designing first and a whole bunch of things are going to work out better if you do that. So I’m going to give you about 6 steps today. First very important step is to set some goals, and it doesn’t have to be a big process you could do it in 5 or 10 minutes if you’re in a rush, but there are 3 parts to this and the first part is the look and feel.

How you want it to feel, how you want the aesthetic of your garden to look like. So that could be certain flowers, certain plants, certain design features. Maybe if you want to have more of a relaxing garden you’re going to use more curvy kind of plants and designs which is what I do in a lot of my gardens.

If you want more of an invigorating kind of party garden you might go more formal, straight edges, diamond shapes and you know, brighter colors – things like that. So you want to think about what kind of a garden you want to be in. I’m just working on a very small section of the garden for this little video today. So what I’m going to do here is put it what’s called the three sisters guild.

I’m not going to talk about it too much today but it’s basically a Native-American way of planting corn and beans and squash together. I’m going to put that in here and I’m going to make it a little more interesting with some other parts that maybe they would have used too like sunflowers and cleome – if I can find them and if I have the time. Maybe I’ll talk about that a little more in another video.

But that’s really my main goal here is putting together that aesthetic of that 3 sisters guild. The second part is usage – how you want to use your garden. So you may need a big area for playing sports or maybe you need a big area for having parties for dining outside, maybe a big area for actually gardening, potting and things like that.

And then you also need to think about paths through the garden because a lot of times, you know the paths don’t work you can’t get wheelbarrows in and out and things like that. So it’s really the layout of the garden based on what your goals are and the goals are of everyone in the house.

Again, for me right here my main use I’m trying to put in this very cool kind of food garden. It’s, you know it’s a way to grow food and actually grow kind of a balanced diet all in one little space. The third part of this which isn’t talked about as much in conventional garden design is the ecosystem. How can we really improve our ecosystem here and create a healthy environment.

For me, what that means is a lot of the things I’ve been talking about in other videos like composting, mulching, using microbial inoculants – all these are ways of really improving my soil and improving my ecosystem health. I’m also doing crop rotation by bringing the corn and squash in here because last year I had tomatoes in here and peppers so I’m doing a different plant family this year. So that’s another thing.

And then I also at the very back of the bed I have some English Ivy that I really need to keep at bay because it can become kind of invasive. So those are just some, a few ecosystem goals. You might need to control erosion, or you might want to be capturing rainwater in a certain part of the garden or attracting beneficial insects, butterflies, pollinators.

You know we have many goals that we can think of to improve our ecosystem but it’s a really important part of planning your garden. Step 2 is to actually draw the site and I’ll show you because I’ve done it here. This one’s obviously very simple which is good for this example. So you can see what we’re looking at here, the house.

And here’s my drawing. Here’s the house, I have this little 240 square feet. parcel that we’re looking at today. Off to the left is a Burning Bush standard which you can see over there. There’s a Rose of Sharon which I’ve drawn right here and there are a few other shrubs here and the English Ivy is back here.

So what you want to do when you do this is use graph paper. And because this is such a small garden and I could make it so that one square is one sq. ft. but often one square would be 3 feet by 3 feet. So 9 square feet. In this case I didn’t need that. So the key here is to draw everything to scale as much as possible. So I measure everything with a tape measurer or pacing off is a little bit easier way of doing it, but not quite as accurate.

And then that’s going to become important when I’m choosing plants because then I know exactly how big a plant or approximately how big a plant is going to get – I can design appropriately.

Other than that it’s basically you know, even if you just had a lawn here you just want to draw it to scale and anything there like the buildings, pathways, whatever is already there or plants, and utilities too you could put utilities on here if you have an irrigation line, a gas line, hydro wires over head.

So that’s the site plan and when you’re done with that you want to make some photocopies because we’re going to be doing a few different things with it. Step 3 is to do a site analysis and that’s when we look at the different energies that are coming onto your site and I guess again I’ll just show you. This time I’ll show you a different drawing.

This is the forest garden area that I ended up putting in last year. But before I put anything in I had to see what was going on. The main thing I often look at is the sun so I wanted to see where the full sun was in this area because I was going to plant fruit trees.

I saw down here was shady, up here was shady, and so that’s a really you know, we really need to know where the full sun is and the part sun and the shade is because that’s going to be really important for the health of our plants. Putting them in the right spot! I looked at the wind, I saw the wind was coming from up here – that’s important because you don’t want to put fragile things in a wind break and things like that.

It’s really important to…or maybe you want to block the wind, or maybe you want to harness the wind. So we really want to know where the wind is coming from. We want to know where the slopes are. This was a slope down here which resulted in a seasonally wet area. So that was really important for how I ended up planting.

We want to know where the good views are. In this case it didn’t matter that much to me but there might be a view you want to block or there might be a view you want to accentuate. So all those different kind of things that you might want to think about that are happening on your site this is where you want to put them on there and that’s really going to inform the design.

Step 4 gets to be really fun and we call it functional diagrams. It’s where to get to start dreaming about what you might want to do but there’s really no pressure there’s really a fast way to do it. And that’s using bubble diagrams. So I’m going to show you yet another part of my garden because again, for a spot like this right here I don’t really need to do too much bubble diagramming because it’s just a little area.

But for something that’s bigger you can do this and it’s just a lot less work then trying to get too detailed too fast. So what I do is I look at my site plan that I already did first and my site analysis, I’m looking at those and I’m making decisions based off that. So I’m just roughing in things – where might I want a cistern?

Where obviously coming off the house I capture the rainwater, throw it into a cistern. Near the cistern I want things that need that water occasionally like herbs. So I have herbs in containers on my patio right outside my kitchen door. So that I can harvest them daily, because you use herbs often.

I have a dining area over here, herbs over here, and so you just starting to dream with kind of bubble diagrams and then you’re not having to get freaked out about measuring and using rulers. Here’s the full sun down here so I put a lot of food plants and flowers down there.

I drew in a retaining wall that I never built and I knew I wasn’t going to build it anytime soon but that’s where the slope is. Compost bin is uphill that means I’m always bringing the compost downhill when I need it. Here’s a windscreen which means that this is a nice protected zone if I need it.

And I draw in the water source so I know these food plants here are going to be able to get water very easily. I ended up building a raised bed over here because I have to water that thing regularly. It’s nice to have a water source right there, So the nice thing about doing it like this is that you can – and I know I’m flying through this guys, but I have to keep these videos short for youtube.

You can do a few different entirely different options when you’re just doing bubble diagrams and you don’t want to get too detailed. That’s what I really like about that, just start dreaming. You don’t have to draw plants when you’re just doing these bubble diagrams because that gets way too detailed.

What you want to do is just say Hey, where might my compost pile go? Where…is this is place for a hedge? Is this a place for a pond? Is this a place for some annuals? Just, you know, the dining area? You don’t have to grow an exact table yet just really think fast and it’s really a fun way to do it.

The other thing about the bubble diagrams is that’s really when you’re…last time I was talking about permaculture design and so the bubble diagrams are when you’re looking at all these elements like pond, greenhouse, compost pile and you’re trying to get the integrations between them and kind of draw them out, figure out how they can related to each other and help each other out so bubble diagrams are great for that.

The fifth step and this may be optional for you is called a concept plan. And what this is, is where you’re taking those bubble diagrams and you’re starting to draw them a little more accurately. You’re not necessarily going in and choosing every individual plant yet.

This is especially done by landscape designers when they want to present something to the client but they don’t want to go in and draw dozens or hundreds of plants in detail until they’ve seen that the client really likes the overall concept. So you can see what I’ve done here. Again this was that other part of the garden. I’m drawing the beds in more detail.

I’m drawing things that I know, for example this dining table – I measured the size of it and I drew it. But I’m not drawing individual plants yet. This might be a case where some of the main plants could be drawn in and drawn to size. Or maybe, there’s kind of a lot of ways to do it but you really don’t have to draw in all the individual plants. Now you might not need to do this, you might go right to the last step which I’ll talk about in a minute.

I actually like to do this in my vegetable garden because I like to work from this as my final plan. Because if I’m planting forty different kinds of vegetables throughout the garden I like to have a lot of flexibility. I just like to know in general where I’m thinking of putting things. So that’s kind of what the concept plan is.

The sixth step, the last step is the planting plan and that’s when you’re designing exactly which plants you’re going to be using and you’re drawing them in to size. And what happens with a lot of gardens in they’re planted way too densely because you buy these little plants that are one or two or three gallons and you plant them and the garden looks so sparse so things get planted too close together.

But what happens is these plants get a lot bigger. So what you do, on a planting plan is you draw them the full size they’re going to get to, or at least the size they’re going to get to in say ten years. It kind of depends people have different methods but really I like to draw them to the full size they’re going to get to.

And what that means is I plant things far enough apart. So, in a vegetable garden I don’t necessarily go to this step but in my orchard, my forest garden, I did because those are perennial plants they’re going to stay there I want to make sure I give them enough space. So you can see I’ve drawn them the full circumference of how big they’re going to get.

And I’ve obviously used everything that I’ve already been looking at – my bubble diagrams and my concept plan and I’m just drawing them in here and the nice thing then is when I go to the garden center I have a planting list – however you want to do it there’s many ways you could do it – but I have a planting list.

So you can see from this particular garden that I put in last fall the sun is coming from the south down here shining like this. Down here I’m keeping some of these trees a little more dwarf and some of these fruit trees I’m letting to grow a little bit bigger, kind of how nature intended.

Down here where the wet area is, is where I planted my pears as I mentioned in the permaculture video because they can take more wet feet whereas up here my apple trees don’t like the wet feet so much so that’s where they are. And then here’s a Stella Cherry, it’s happy to be in this little bit more of a sheltered spot in my area. So many different…I can’t get into too much detail in these videos because I want to keep it short but I try to think of many different things by the time you get to this point that are really going to make for a good design.

And I guess I’ll briefly show you my little “design” for this garden here even though its not really a design so much as laying out the three sisters. The corn and the beans go where the “C”s are, the squash goes all in between them. So that’s it for home landscape design.

If you have any questions at all ask them down below and I’ll be sure to answer them. If you haven’t signed up for my free online organic gardening course you can do that down below and you can also come and join me and my sister over on Facebook at Facebook.com/smilinggardener.

Best free landscape design software 

Who hasn’t watched an episode of a house flipping or home renovation TV show and immediately wanted to find a contractor to help reimagine their indoor and outdoor living spaces?

For any landscape project, plans are a must. Pen and pencil can only get you so far — landscape design software is specifically developed to help homeowners take their ideas and turn them into reality.

Landscape design software is helpful for two reasons: It streamlines the process of drafting and collaborating on designs and facilitates the accurate representation of outdoor spaces.

Best free landscape design software in 2018

  1. SketchUp Free
  2. PRO Landscape Home
  3. Kerkythea
  4. Showoff.com the Visualizer
  5. Lands Design
  6. Arborgold
  7. Plan-a-Garden
  8. Garden Planner
  9. iScape App
  10. DreamPlan
  11. Marshalls Garden Visualizer
  12. Terragen
  13. Designor Buddy

Regardless of whether you are a DIY homeowner who wants to renovate their backyard, or a professional landscape architect, designer or contractor, landscape design solutions help you predict costs, digitize plans and integrate with other free CAD software and BIM software.

The majority of the well-known landscape design systems out there — for example, VizTerra, or Idea Spectrum’s entire spectrum (heh) of solutions — come with hefty price tags. For those who don’t work in a landscape agency or who are casually dabbling in landscape projects, those high prices outweigh any benefits that individual software can provide. Thankfully, some free programs do exist. And best of all, many of those free programs come either in mobile application form or are browser-based, which is convenient when it comes to printing out or electronically sharing landscape design plans.

Tip: Before purchasing software of any kind, read these 9 questions to ask a software vendor.

Additionally, free landscape design tools offer similar — though much more limited — functionality as professional landscape design software. An outstanding feature that crops up in both free and paid versions is access to a library or database of materials, hardscapes and plants. In addition, a few of the free landscape design solutions featured in the list below even provide access to materials producers and/or networks of landscapers and contractors.

TIP: Looking for more gardening and landscape guides? Learn how to make a DIY greenhouse with the best free greenhouse plans in 2019.

Most of the free landscape design tools outlined below are geared toward the homeowner or for those who will use the software in a non-commercial capacity.

These products alone have well over 270 validated user reviews on G2 Crowd as of July 25, 2018, and only represent a small portion of the 40-plus landscape design software offerings listed on our platform. Whenever possible, the products are ranked by user satisfaction score.

For each product we provide:

  • An overview
  • Highlighted features
  • Free and paid options details

For products with G2 Crowd verified user reviews, we have included:

  • G2 Crowd star rating
  • Reviews highlighting what users like and dislike
  • User recommendations for these considering the product

The list we’ve outlined here includes any landscape design solution with an available free offering. It should be noted that this does not include products that are only free on a temporary basis, such as limited trial versions for new users. They may only support one user or one project, but they’re truly free offerings. Scaling, however, will often require full investments.

Product reviews and G2 Crowd star ratings were updated as of July 25, 2018

1. SketchUp Free

Product Name: SketchUp
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 267

Overview

SketchUp provides architects, designers, builders and engineers the tools to draft, model and render their ideas into reality. SketchUp Free is the free, web-based version of SketchUp Pro. With SketchUp Free, users can draw in 3D on any web browser. Additionally, the solution enables the sharing and collaboration of SketchUp free files with CAD project management tool Trimble Connect, a project management and collaboration solution tailored for the construction industry. Landscape designers can leverage SketchUp Free to turn their initial models into a dimension- and context-full design files.

Free option

  • SketchUp free is a web-browser based version of the modeling tool.
  • SketchUp for Schools is also free, but can only be downloaded via the G Suite for Education platform and its files can only be stored on Google Drive.

  • SketchUp Pro is the desktop version of the tool; it’s more powerful, customizable and shareable. The non-expiring license costs $695, but there is a free version you can trial.

Features

  • 3D modeling
  • Rendering
  • Editing
  • Support for Trimble Connect
  • Support for most web browsers and operating systems

Image courtesy of SketchUp

What users like

“I like the fact that SketchUp is free and easily accessible. It makes for an easily shareable resource with a low entry-level skill requirement, and a moderately high skill ceiling that rewards hard work and experimentation with results.”
— SketchUp review by Nathan A.

What users dislike

“In the free 2017 version, the warehouse is gone. If you want to keep the access to the warehouse, you have to download the 2015 version. Also, you should consider having your computer geared up for best performances or rendering will lack frequently, especially when using the shadow effects on complex designs.”
— SketchUp review by Stacy B.

Recommendations for others considering the product

“Get the free version, or use a free trial and play around with it. It just takes time and practice to master the program. There are tons of videos and online resources that you can use to learn and help yourself!”
— SketchUp review by Jacqueline D..

2. PRO Landscape Home

Product Name: PRO Landscape
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 4

PRO Landscape design software provides architects with the photo imaging, CAD, 3D rendering, and customer proposal drafting tools that fulfill the requirements for landscape design projects. PRO Landscape Home is the “lite,” non-commercial version of PRO Landscape, designed for homeowners. PRO Landscape Home is a mobile application that can be used on all Apple, Android and Amazon devices. While PRO Landscape Companion App is a free app, it’s only free for those who already purchased the professional landscape design software. PRO Landscape Home, on the other hand, offers almost the same features as the professional version, except the ability to edit hardscapes, create customer proposals and create 3D files.

  • PRO Landscape Home is the free, “lite” version of PRO Landscape.
  • The Companion App is free to download for both iOS and Android. However, it’s only free for those who have already downloaded PRO Landscape.
  • PRO Landscape: $1,496
  • Educational pricing is available for PRO Landscape, on a custom-quote basis
  • Creation of photo imaging and CAD designs
  • Object image library
  • Plant database
  • “Find a Professional” lookup feature

Image courtesy of PRO Landscape

“This will speed up my design work and offer all the plants and accessories that are immediately available.”
— PRO Landscape review by Julie S.

“Compared to other harder-working software, it’s too simple.”
— PRO Landscape review by Muhammad S.

“If you need a cheaper option than CAD, it’s a combined program that mixes CAD, PhotoShop, and SketchUp all in one without needing to buy them all. For small projects only.”
— PRO Landscape review by a user in architecture & planning

3. Kerkythea

Product Name: Solid Iris Kerkythea
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 3

Kerkythea is a free, open-source rendering software that provides a full staging application for users to render architectural models and illustrations. It was developed as a powerful plug-in for SketchUp. Kerkythea can be used by both architectural professionals and educational institutes, as users do not need to spend any money on software licensing.

  • Free to download
  • N/A
  • Provides a singular interface for rendering
  • Global illumination rendering engine
  • Provides a repository of materials, plants, environment images

Image courtesy of Kerkythea

“I like the fact that a freeware can actually throw you back great renders and visualizations as good as the ones you can get in $1K+ softwares. I also like its compatibility. Even though it’s a bit limited, you can use other free softwares like SketchUp or Blender as a ‘bridge’ to get really nice renders.” — Kerkythea review by Roger Z.

“Can be slow at times. I have to remember to allow adequate rendering time.” — Kerkythea review by Kristy G.

“Take a tutorial and play around a lot. Don’t be afraid to export a lot of quick test views before doing a large file, high-resolution end view.” — Kerkythea review by Faith B.

4. Showoff.com the Visualizer

Product Name: The Visualizer
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Total Number of Reviews: 1

Showoff.com is a combination of a real estate MLS marketplace and blog that’s equipped with design tips and layouts. The site offers an online service called the Visualizer that helps you design your dream house and garden, and then offer that design up to the Showoff.com community for tips and consultation. The Visualizer is a free software application that can be installed on Windows operating systems.

  • Free via this .
  • N/A
  • Database of elements, photos, setups and materials
  • Community forum

Image courtesy of Showoff.com

“It’s very easy to use, and a great tool for clients to be able to ‘visualize’ what the proposed design is.”
— The Visualizer review by Raluca F.

“Some materials don’t always look very realistic and can overwhelm clients.”
— The Visualizer review by Raluca F.

5. Lands Design

Product Name: Lands Design
G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

Lands Design is a free software that releases a new beta version every 90 days, taking in feedback and updating features and fixing errors. Lands Design is a landscaping design plugin for 3D modelling tool Rhino. With Lands Design, landscape designers can create realistic 3D images, virtual tours to better represent the final landscape to their clients, and draw on large libraries of plants, trees, and urban furniture.

  • Beta mode
  • No paid option is available
  • Plant species database
  • Freeform landscape modelling
  • Virtual tour creator
  • Editing tool
  • AutoCAD file support

Image courtesy of Lands End

What users say

Be the first user to write a Lands Design review!

6. Arborgold

Product Name: ArborgoldG2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Arborgold is a comprehensive customer management, job scheduling and business management solution for service-based companies. Arborgold recently rolled out a free online landscape design tool that enables the creation of 2D landscape designs to present to clients. Arborgold’s free tool can be used by both professionals and homeowners to create and save designs. For professionals, those designs can be attached to itemized landscape proposals.

  • Arborgold’s paid options go beyond simple landscape design solutions; they are comprehensive service/business management solutions
  • Sprout: $59/month
  • Entrepreneur: $99/month
  • Premium: $149/month
  • Ultimate: $179/month
  • Job site illustrations
  • Library of plants, lighting, and hardscape
  • Import of photos and geo-satellite images
  • Freehand drawing

Be the first user to write an Arborgold review!

7. Plan-a-Garden

Product Name: Plan-a-GardenG2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

Plan-a-Garden is Better Homes & Garden’s online design-planning tool, tailored for homeowners and DIY home designers. Plan-a-Garden helps you visualize your remodeling plans before handing off those designs to a professional contractor.

  • Free browser-based tool
  • N/A
  • Database of plants and hardscapes

Be the first user to write a Plan-a-Garden review!

8. Garden Planner

Product Name: Garden PlannerG2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Garden Planner is an easy-to-use garden and landscape design tool. It provides users with a drag-and-drop interface that helps you arrange the visual elements of your design. Garden Planner’s designing tool is flexible and supports a 3D virtual tour walkaround.

  • Free license exists for charities, nonprofits and schools.
  • One-time fee of $46
  • Library of plants and object symbols
  • Drag-and-drop interface
  • Allows for garden notes
  • Free future updates

Be the first user to write a Garden Planner review!

9. iScape App

Product Name: iScape
G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

iScape is a landscape design application that helps homeowners, professionals and product retailers design and collaborate on outdoor living space design. With iScape, you can accurately visualize the end product before embarking on any landscape design projects. iScape is currently only available via iOS app.

  • Free iOS app, may require in-app purchases.
  • N/A
  • Easy-to-use design tools
  • Sharing capabilities
  • Image, plant and materials database
  • Provides availability of inventory through iScape partners

Image courtesy of iScape App

Be the first user to write an iScape review!

10. DreamPlan Home Design

Product Name: DreamPlan Home Design
G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

DreamPlan Home Design is a home and landscape design software that helps homeowners and professionals visualize completed designs prior to redesign. DreamPlan supports designs for home and floor plans, landscape and garden plans and interior room design plans. DreamPlan provides users with an easy-to-use interface that makes it simple for anyone at any skill level to draft designs.

  • Free for non-commercial use
  • DreamPlan Home Design Software Plus is available for $40
  • 3D and 2D rendering
  • Blueprint view mode
  • Supports both Windows and Mac operating systems

Be the first user to write a DreamPlan review!

11. Marshalls Garden Visualizer

Product Name: Marshalls Garden Visualizer
G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

Marshalls supplies landscape products to the U.K., specifically paving products and accessories. The site offers an online landscape design tool: Marshalls Garden Visualizer. Garden Visualizer provides users with a free garden planner. That limits the scope of landscape design you may use it for, but it helps you create a 3D rendering that helps you customize any aspect of your garden.

  • Free to download at , but only on Firefox or Safari browsers.
  • N/A
  • Simple, 3D visualizations
  • Library of paving products and materials
  • Network of approved installers
  • Access to Marshalls products

Image courtesy of Marshalls

Be the first to write a Marshalls Garden Visualizer review!

12. Terragen

Product Name: Terragen
G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

Terragen facilitates the building, rendering and animating of realistic, natural environments. Most applications of Terragen are TV and film production, as well as visual effects purposes. And while Terragen is a bit more comprehensive — as it’s a realistic, natural environment rendering solution — than other landscape design softwares, users are empowered to place photorealistic environments into whatever design you’re creating.

Free option

Paid option

  • Terragen 4 Creative: $349
  • Terragen 4 Professional: $699

Features

  • Realistic atmosphere model
  • Realistic illumination features
  • Terrain editor
  • Object rendering

Be the first user to write a Terragen review!

13. Designor Buddy

Product Name: Designor Buddy

G2 Crowd Star Rating: N/A

Overview

Designor Buddy is free, open-source landscape designing software. It is built on top of the OpenOffice Draw program and provides the ability to integrate landscape images into 2D drawings. OpenOffice Draw is one of Apache’s OpenOffice modules, which enables the production of simple diagrams and dynamic 3D illustrations.

  • Free to download
  • N/A
  • The ability to scale
  • Layers (similar to PhotoShop)
  • Library of plants, hardscapes and materials

Be the first user to write a Designor Buddy review!

Next steps for selecting a best free landscape design software

For both professional landscape designers and homeowners who have a landscape design itch, completely free solutions — not just software that offers free trials or demos — are scarce. However, if you’re willing to go barebones, the aforementioned free landscape design tools are helpful for the beginning stages of your landscape design journey.

Be prepared with what exactly your requirements are, whether you want sharing capabilities and which integrations or third-party software those free tools support. Once you identify those “must-have,” “good-to-have,” and “do-not-need” elements, you’ll be in a very good position to narrow down the available offerings and select the best free landscape design software for your needs.

Are you ready to take your landscaping design business to the next level? Learn how a Pinterest for business account can help you generate more business.

* Please note: Reviews may have been edited for spelling and grammar.

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