Plan your garden with ease using this free program, although it helps if you have some knowledge of plants. Showoff Home Design lets you add trees, annuals, perennials, and even outdoor furniture to a picture of your house (or any image). All you need to do is select your image and start adding elements.
The program doesn't install until you provide registration information, but the setup process doesn't take long. Showoff Home Design automatically searches for a camera to locate your image, and defaults to a sample image if it doesn't find one. It's a simple process to locate a picture on your hard drive, camera, or even the Web, and the app helps walk you through each method to start a new project. The interface is dominated by the large editing screen with command buttons at the top to open and save projects, and buttons on the left to manipulate the items you place on your image. The catalog of images is found on the right and holds seven main categories, including Landscape Plants, Outdoor Furniture, Decks, and Patio Garden. Simply choose a category to see more options. Landscape Plants includes annuals, perennials, trees, hedges, edibles, and other plant types. Each of these subcategories includes a picture of every plant, and, once selected, you can easily place the plant of your choice on the picture of your house or yard. It's easy to rotate, flip, resize, and otherwise adjust pictures until they're placed just where you want them. We really liked the capability to add patio furniture and other nonplant elements to get a true sense of what the yard would look like when finished.
While this program proved easy to use, you'll have an easier time finding plants if you know whether it's an annual or biennial, or considered to be ground cover or an ornamental grass. That said, we recommend this simple program to anyone who'd like to do some planning on the front end before visiting a nursery or digging a single hole.
A fun interactive Web site and home makeover software for Landscape and Outdoor Living projects. It lets you visualize, experiment, and custom design your landscaping. Your virtual designer displays a photograph of your home or model home, selected color landscape plants, which can be immediately arranged for a complete photo-realistic design. Drop the chosen landscape image right onto your photograph. Over 2,000 plant choices are available, select from annuals, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, cacti, trees, tropical foliage. Select your hardiness zone from the software and then choose plants that grow in your region. How will your landscape design look in one year, two years, or how about 5 years? Watch the plants grow as you water them for a fun interactive growth feature.
This version is the first release on CNET Download.com.