Most users of landscaping software are thinking and dreaming about their own property. You can start making those dreams come true by uploading a photo of the area you're working with. This then becomes your virtual model, upon which you can experiment with different flowers, shade trees, shrubs, garden plots, fences and a multitude of other design elements and accessories. As you refine your ideas of what you want to include in your design and where to locate the different features, your doctored photo will reveal the look and feel of your desired result.
The applications usually include a catalog of plants, with detailed information about the requirements and botanical features of each. Many include a tool to research plant hardiness, so you'll know what types of flora will thrive in your climate zone. Once you've selected and placed the elements of your landscape design, you can view it in 3-D, rotated at numerous angles and in a variety of ways: by day or night (study the play of sun and shadow), in all seasons and projected into the future [source: Lawn-and-Gardening Tips].
The plant growth projections can be especially helpful to novice landscapers, if only as a graphic reminder to think carefully about sitting structures, such as patios or other fixed elements. In general, it makes sense to plan the structured areas first and landscape around them, making sure to leave plants ample room to grow. The software layout of your new lawn will look way better than your chicken scratch handwriting on a sheet of spiral-bound paper -- plus, it will actually be accurate.
For complicated structures, some landscaping applications can be used in combination with construction software, allowing plans for electrical wiring or plumbing to be incorporated into the design. These packages usually include a library of building materials, such as pavement, gravel, doors, windows, furniture and other accessories.
Now, you're ready to choose the software product that's right for you and start planning your masterpiece. Have fun!