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.
Read our ideas for small garden designs
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.
How you can use colour in your garden design
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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.
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Find out how to make a rockery
SketchUp, Google's design software needs to be installed on your computer. Not purely for garden design, it nevertheless includes landscape templates. A basic version is available for free, and there's a tiered price system for anyone wanting to do more complicated designs or use it for business.
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.
Next article: How to design a herbaceous border >>>
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