Planning the perfect landscape design isn’t easy for the average person, and it’s especially difficult to visualize exactly what your property will look like when the project is complete. That’s because landscaping is an art form the operates in an extra dimension: time.

As plants grow from year to year and change over the course of each season’s cycles, they look different on your property. When will they bloom or drop leaves? Using your imagination to turn a tiny transplant into a full-grown specimen takes a practiced eye and years of experience.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. With the help of your smartphone, you can click and drag plants and other garden features into new designs before you commit. As a professional landscape design company in New Jersey, here are some of our favorite landscape design apps to help you get started.

1. Houzz

Houzz is best known for its gorgeous photos of interiors, but did you know that they also have loads of great design ideas for patios, decks and outdoor rooms? The app gets a 4.8-star rating on iTunes, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Just enter your search term and enjoy thousands of photos of carefully designed spaces, plus links to where to buy all those great accessories and pieces of furniture. Android and iOS; Free.

2. iScape

iScape is another landscape design app that gets great reviews and is perfect for anyone who really wants to see plants in place before they start digging. You take a photo on your phone or iPad, then choose plants to create visual “layers” over the photo. This is a great way to visualize your landscaper’s design in 3D if you’re not sure what the drawings will look like in real life. iOS; Free.

3. Microsoft Pix Camera

Need help more help seeing your space in 3-D? Microsoft has announced plans to add their popular Photosynth technology to the Pix app. This will allow you to stitch together photos to create a full panorama (up/down and side to side) to feel what it’s like to be in your outdoor space — even from your own couch. iOS; Free.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest is the ultimate website for collecting ideas and researching design online. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll quickly get addicted to browsing other people’s pins of landscape design ideas. Click on the ones you like to add them to your own bulletin board for future reference. This app can be addicting, so open it only when you have some time to spare for your backyard dreams! Android and iOS; Free.

5. Landscaper’s Companion – Plant & Gardening Guide

Landscaper’s Companion is a database of over 26,000 plants and trees that you can search to help you choose exactly what you want on your property. You’ll get information about where and how to grow it, plus gorgeous photos and the ability to share plant lists with others. It’s been named a top reference app in both the U.S. and Canada. iOS; $9.99.

6. Garden Plan Pro

If you’re interested in adding an herb or vegetable garden to your landscape, Garden Plan Pro has you covered. It allows you to design the shape and size of your garden beds, but you can also get help choosing plant varieties, rotating crops and storing important data for year-to-year comparisons of what does best in your area. iOS; $7.99.

7. Moodboard Lite

Moodboard Lite lets you organize all your favorite landscaping photos into an attractive collage. You can use downloaded images, screenshots and your own photos to create a unique collection that shows your landscape designer what you like. You don’t have to worry about labels or logging in; just gather the things you love into one spot for safekeeping and future reference. iOS; Free.

8. Patio Design

The Patio Design app is packed with images of creative patios, outdoor fireplaces and more. Monthly updates will keep you busy as more images are added, and you can download and share favorites as you explore all the possibilities for your new outdoor room. Android; Free.

9. Landscaping Ideas

Not sure what you want out of your backyard? Landscaping Ideas is the perfect app for inspiration, as it has thousands of photos of different garden elements to get your creative juices flowing. Save your favorites to share with friends and your landscape designer. Android; Free.

10. 1000+ Fences Design Ideas

A fence can make or break your final design — especially if you want to block your view of your neighbors’ trash cans — but many apps don’t do much with them. 1000+ Fences Design Ideas offers lots of inspirational photos and the ability to mark your favorites, so you can pay attention to this crucial detail as you plan your new outdoor space. Android; Free.

It only takes a minute to download one or more of these great landscape design apps, and they could be the key to getting your outdoor makeover done right. Take your time to explore ideas and try several configurations and planting ideas before you settle on your final design, and you’ll enjoy a design that meets all of your outdoor living needs.

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