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Garden design software

Can anyone recommend a garden design software that is easy for amateurs? I've been trying to use graph paper to draw up a plan but it's so time consuming and messy. I don't need bells and whistles, just something that will help me map the space! Happy to pay for it, doesn't need to be free - just has to be for dummies  :)


  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited October 2021

    I used them to help me think out ideas, rather than as a planting plan to stick to. It helped me to get a sense of the space, when putting in new beds. I don't keep up with plant lists for the various areas, though it would be good to do. When I started it was pretty obvious and limited as to what was where, but things have got complicated in recent years, with many experiments going on... I admit that I have lost track - to my detriment.

    I don't think I paid for any packages, as I just wanted one off plans I could take screen shots of. Some of the packages are set up to help manage gardens.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 7,782
    I think Obelixx recommended on some time ago.  I remember downloading one and being quite impressed by it, but my computer died and I don't remember what it was called.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,292

    gilla.walmsley   I don't know whether the above handful of replies gave you what you wanted, but your initial thought of using graph paper was almost certainly the best vehicle to begin with.  An aerial view of your plot, using Google Earth perhaps, aided by a long tape measure or pacing it out, would give you a start, but the main thing will be that, one way or another, Chateau Walmsley becomes your personal statement, not a copy from a book.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,366
    edited October 2021
    Regardless of what you use, the measurements and scale have to be accurate for it be any use. Very few gardens are a uniform square or rectangular shape with nice neat 90 degree corners   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thank you everyone! Fire I must be a complete tech idiot because I tried the free trial from Gardena and also the one on Shoot and couldn't get on with either of them! I've decided to do as Nick suggests and go back to graph paper but I'm going to buy an A3 pad instead of using A4 - and the crucial added extra of an eraser! - to hopefully make it a bit easier  :)
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    It does take a while to play with the packages to find out how they work, but are quite fun once you get to know where things are.
  • My garden plan would be a hopeless muddle, as an outline wouldn't take account of huge changes in level and it is not possible to pace it out or measure it easily for trees and bits that are impossible to walk on. I think there might be one almost right angle :)
    But I walk round it a lot looking at plants and mentally re-arranging and can make a rough plan of individual beds. I find an old fashioned metre rule is useful, as it can give a good quick measurement and is easy to visualise and to use when working out spacings and heights of things.
    Choosing plants is always tricky, as the new ones are so small and rates of growth vary a lot, depending on your soil and climate and each year's weather. Some things will end up bigger than they are 'supposed' to, while others may never  really get off the ground.
    Most of us find 'holes' in borders hard to contemplate, and there can be very few of us who can say, hand on heart, that they have never over-planted a space or bought a plant with no idea where to put it!
    Getting to know your plants makes it a bit easier, finding out what works for you, not just in growth but in personal preference and in terms of foliage and colour, but it all takes time and we have all made mistakes along the way and many of us still do, so don't stress too much over it all.  Our mantra on here is "There's always next year!"

  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,142
    edited October 2021
    I agree with the plan of using graph paper. You can find plenty of graph grids online which can be printed out at home and then I glue or tape two together to make A3. I then transfer measurements on to the base plan and outline it with heavy blank ink. Future plans can then be traced fairly easily by laying plan 2 (and 3, 4 etc) on top of the base plan.

    Another option is to base your sketch on a view of your garden from Google Earth or, better, the accurate maps used in council planning departments. Perhaps somebody knows how these can be freely accessed. 

    Next I cut out scale shapes of things you’ll be adding to the garden like raised beds, greenhouse, rotary washing line, compost bins, trees and shrubs etc. A pack of crayons is useful as is leaving a margin around the plan where you can write notes. As you have already said, an eraser is very handy and use soft pencils like 2B or 4B which rub out more easily.

    Finally, when you’re nearly done, mark out your plan in the garden with a hose, rope, canes or whatever is to hand, or use spray marker paint, and take a good look at what you are planning from an upstairs window. 

    You then might want to take a photo of your plan and upload it here to elicit others’ opinions.
    Rutland, England
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,234
    If you have access to a photocopier, once you have your outline and fixed features (the house, any outbuildings, paths etc that you won't be moving) you could make lots of copies that you can draw different ideas on. It might take some tweaking of settings to get the grid on the graph paper to copy well.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    There are 3D modelling packages but they are more complicated to use. Techies like them.
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