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   Patio Design Software
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One of the best things about a patio is that the homeowner can design it with pen and paper or a good software package. With all the information on materials out there a novice can either do it him/herself or provide enough information to a landscape or decking professional to get it done.
Whether you buy it from a store specializing in software or download it from several sites on the internet, home and garden design software takes a lot of the guessing out of translating what you want into what you get. If a picture is worth a thousand words these marvels let you put in the exact type of material you want and embellish that with hundreds of types of shrubs and lawn. Here are a few highlights:
  1) Patio materials and styles
2) Patio pattern designs and types of edging
3) Provides many types of trees, shrubs, flowers and grass
4) Allows you to view the ongoing patio design from different perspectives
5) Change-on-the-fly features which allow you to mix-and-match different scenery ideas.
6) Some also include pools, hot tubs, spas, fountains, bird baths and sprinkler systems
7) Calculates the materials and types of tools needed to complete the job
8) Plans can be printed out and used for self construction or given to a contractor
With a design software the homeowner is in the driver’s seat because he/she is working in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment. Many programs calculate the layers of fill (sand, gravel, earth) and depth of each layer. This is especially valuable because if a professional is going to do the job each landscaper who will bid on the job will have exactly the same plans with the exact materials needed.
With the better software once the design has been created any changes in the size or materials will automatically recalculate the materials. Some patio design software provide the option of putting in material prices giving a more accurate price for the project. This is extremely handy when reviewing estimates from competing contractors.
Planning Software Features
1) Video Tutorial
2) Photo Import
3) 3D Viewing
4) Plant Encyclopedia
5) Growth Maps
6) Print Types
7) Simulated Plant Growth
8) Outdoor Lighting
9) Daytime View
10) Shadowing
11) Irrigation Types
12) Furniture
13) Zoom Tool
14) Driveways, Sidewalks and Pathways
15) Sample gardens and patios
16) Pools, Spas and Garden Outbuildings
Things To Consider in a Software
  1. Landscape Design Tool Box: Does the software have the features that you need to complete your design? For example, some software packages utilize actual photos of your home and let you work around that scenario while others use a totally computer-generated scene.
  2. Set Up: Is it easy to load into your computer? Does it require add-ons like more memory?
  3. Support: You should have a easy-to-use help index, a clear tutorial and online support.
  4. Easy to Use: From the get-go you should be able to navigate the program and get quick results.