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.