Use free software to design a garden

By Andrew Stucken, Wednesday 18 February 2015

We take a look at some of the free computer software that allows you to plan and design a new garden.
Couple on laptop in gardenUse free software to plan and design your new garden

My Garden


My Garden from Gardena allows you to drop an extensive range of objects onto a blank lawn to design your garden.

Graphics are basic - but once registered, the menu is simplicity itself. The six categories - including landscape, flower and vegetables, and water features - include over 150 objects. You can show/hide items you have placed, and save your design.

PROS: User-friendly, effortless interface; wide variety of features; provides templates; not time-limited.

CONS: Rather basic graphics; cannot upload a photo.

Find out how to make a rockery to add interest to your garden.

Marshalls Garden Visualiser

More sophisticated than many rivals, Marshalls Garden Visualiser tool is 3D, and allows you to upload a photo of your garden.

After setting your garden's dimensions, you select from ranges of objects such as walls, hedges and fences. This tool is more about "hard landscaping" than plants, but a limited range can be added to your design.

You will need Adobe Shockwave installed on your computer to use the visualiser.

PROS: Great 3D visualiser; can upload own photo; helpful videos.

CONS: More complex than some tools; limited range of plants.

Find out how you can use colour in your garden design.

My Garden Planner

Shoot's My Garden Planner offers a time-limited free trial - just 48 hours after registration - to create a garden design. You are then invited to pay £3 per month for use of the product, with access to unlimited designs. If you'd rather not pay, set aside a free weekend and make use of the free trial period.

Essentially a design tool customised for gardeners, you can upload a photo of your own garden, and choose objects from 14 categories in a drop-down menu. These range from vegetables to pools and ponds. Plants are often generic, rather than an actual species.

PROS: User-friendly interface; can upload own photo.

CONS: Very limited free trial; sometimes basic graphics.

Find out how to make a wildlife pond.

Plan-a-Garden's Plan-a-Garden tool guides you to choose from an easy-to-navigate menu bar. You select from a diverse set of photos of houses and gardens, and progress to structures, followed by surfaces, and finally plants.

You can opt to simply log in via your social media account.

PROS: Easy to navigate interface; wide choice of plants and other objects; effortless log-in.

CONS: American origins sometimes reflected in plant species and names.

Find out how to create a beautiful winter garden.


SketchUp, Google's free design software needs to be installed on your computer. Not purely for garden design, it nevertheless includes landscape templates.

Rather more fully-featured than some online tools, SketchUp lets you upload a photo, as well as create objects from scratch. How useful you find that could depend on your creativity and willingness to learn this generic design programme for beginners.

PROS: Can upload your own photo; plenty of features.

CONS: Possibly harder work, and more complex, than some garden design tools.

If you're starting a landscaping project, read our guide to laying out a new garden. See our selection of small garden ideas for inspiration.

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter for more useful gardening tips.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


  • Gardening

    How to lay out a new garden

    I’m laying out a new garden and I want to plant some new trees, roses and shrubs, when should I start?

    Read on

  • Colourful garden flowers

    Using colour in your garden design

    The way you use colour in your garden design can have an impact on how the space feels. Find out how with our guide to garden colour schemes.

    Read on

  • Lily pond

    How to design and build a wildlife pond

    If you really want to attract a wide range of wildlife to your garden then you need a pond that has been specially designed and planted to provide habitats, cover, food and perches for a wide range of creatures

    Read on

  • Woman reading at outdoor table

    How to choose garden furniture

    Read these tips from Simon Burvill of Gaze Burvill, makers of outdoor furniture, on what to look for when you are choosing outdoor furniture for your garden.

    Read on


Type your comment here

 characters remaining.

Save 25% on RHS membership

Special offer for Saga readers

Be inspired with access to more than 150 RHS and partner gardens, plus enjoy priority bookings to the biggest garden shows in the country including RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Annual membership from £41.25.

More gardening articles

Browse our extensive archive for more gardening news and tips from our gardening experts.

Drought-resistant plants that can be left for the summer

We go away for weeks every summer and can't water the garden. Which plants can survive without water and still look fine when we get back in late August?

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Saga Magazine

£3 for 3 issues

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £3 for 3 issues.

More gardening articles

Browse our extensive archive for more gardening news and advice from our gardening experts.