Ratings: Ease of Use, Performance: 24/25, Look & Feel: 23/25, Features & Software 23/25, How much I enjoy 24/25
Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Design is a great landscaping and deck design software suite from Chief Architect. Landscaping and Deck Designer is a great standalone program to design and create that great landscaping and yard scenery or build that dream deck.
You can also use it with Home Designer Deluxe as a great software suite for full home and yard architecture with all the bells and whistles. The Landscaping and Deck Designer is very simple to use and comes with all the general yard and landscaping materials and tools to design and create your own landscaped yard or outdoor area.
The Landscaping and Deck Designer software comes with the software program and a tutorial on CD as well as a very good user’s guide to help you with the common tools and features of the program. The user’s guide and tutorial CD’s will start you off with a simple design tool to build the property. You can use the elevation tools to get the correct landscaped elevation that you currently have or what you would like the land to be when all the construction is done.
The tool uses easy to understand points of elevation and using a GPS handheld unit you can easily roam around your lot to find out elevation points to add them into the program for an extremely accurate design. You can also guess and estimate the elevations and use the simple tool to input them into the lot. Your lot can easily be shaped and the elevations are in reference to ground level that is zero for the foundation of your house. Everything is in relation to your house’s foundation and is either above using positive numbers and below the foundation level in negative numbers.
Once you have inputted the lot and some elevation points the tutorials help you by adding the house using a simple wall creator. You can measure out the walls of your house and even take a photo of your house and add that in digitally. Once the house is on the design screen you can start the fun of adding any decks or landscaping features. The tutorials will help with the basics but the program is so very easy to use that you will be off and running in no time with your own ideas and designs.
The program comes with so many objects and materials that you can have just about anything you need or can use to represent other things. There is plenty of outdoor furniture, objects, playground equipment and outdoor fixtures that you can add all those nice homey touches to really get a good feel for the type of scenery and landscaping you would like to create for your own home.
Once you have finished the tutorial you will have some good ideas of how the Landscaping and Deck Designer program works and can create your own landscaping designs. You can spend a good amount of time experimenting and researching all your choices for the best landscaping you want. The program comes with a very handy and nice feature called the Plant Chooser with a couple of different ways to choose the correct plant for your needs.
You can start by the flower color, area you live in, or other specific characteristics of plants and using checked boxes in the Plant Chooser and it will help you with choices it selects. The Plant Chooser will find all the plants and flowers that pertain to your choices and show what you can add and gives information about each choice. You can read about the plants you have chosen and pick a suitable one for the landscaping you have in mind.
The Plant Chooser also has good descriptions and information about plants, trees, and flowers along with good pictures to give a very good idea if you would like to use them. If you do know names of plants by common or scientific names you can quickly see if they would look good for a particular area or are suited to the area of the North American continent for your landscaping.
Landscaping is not a very easy thing to do and this program has made it even easier for you to choose the plants that would look good for a particular idea or landscaping project you would like. It also helps you find the correct plants for the area you live in and for the amount of sunlight and water for the area the plant or tree will be in.
You can add all kinds of other yard items to create that lived in look for the landscaping such as playground equipment, chairs, tables and benches. The program comes complete with a huge library of items for the exterior of your home down to the lighting and yard extravagances you dreamed about.
The deck design portion of the software will design a general deck for you and give you a good building materials list of that deck so you can easily go to a lumber yard or home improvement store to purchase most of the necessary items. I created a small deck for a front door that is about 16 feet by 22 feet and it gives a very good estimate for the amount and kind of lumber and materials you will need.
The Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Designer does not show you how to build the deck and you will need to know how to do this or get help for building a deck. You should also have help or get advice for any landscaping you do so you do not kill off all those plants you buy or dig into ground utilities like gas lines or electrical lines.
You should know what you are doing with the landscaping or be able to find out how to correctly do it so you do not spend your money and have to redo much of your landscaping. This program is a great way to get a good idea of what you would like to have for your landscaping or deck and can give a good picture or blueprint of what you want to be able to show a professional landscaper what you want them to do.
You can also use it to design and build on your own if you know how or can get someone who can help you out. Planting trees and shrubs and having them live can be difficult but you can learn how. For any digging in your yard you should make sure of any underground utilities and call before digging.
The Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Designer program is great for toying with different ideas and being able to get the correct plants, trees and shrubs for you area of the country. You can easily and quickly see the colors and things that will work and what just does not before you spend the money on the materials.
Landscaping and Deck Designer will let you play around with ideas, show you what looks good and just does not work for your situation and home. The program is an easy and fun way to design your own landscaping and is a great way to be able to tell a landscaper exactly what you want in writing before a project begins. Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Designer can be used on its own or you can use it with Home Designer Deluxe.
I highly recommend the Better Homes and Gardens Landscaping and Deck Designer for any landscaping and deck projects so you can see what you want and get it right the first time.