I've got the Sierra product: The Complete LandDesigner.
It includes five products: 3D Landscape, Photo LandDesigner, a Garden
Encyclopedia, and 3D Deck. Only ones I've used so far are the 3D Landscape
and the encyclopedia.
Might be worth the $20 after rebate; I paid $40, I think.
The 3D Landscape is a nice product, but unfortunately it doesn't quite
deliver on its promise. The basic idea is that you "draw" your home in 3
dimensions, and can change the view to see how it looks from all sides. Then
you add in plants and structures, moving them around until you find a
pleasing arrangement. There are tools that allow you to see how the
light/shadows will change over the course of a day, month, or year; and a
"time-lapse" element to let you see how big your trees and other plants will
get in the course of X number of years. (Unfortunately, it doesn't take
pruning into account! My tiny 2' junipers ended up 6' high at the end of 5
You can spend quite a while reproducing your existing house and structures,
but there simply aren't enough variables to allow you to make a truly
realistic representation. In other words, the plants that you can "plant" in
your yard represent maybe 1% of the total species. You're limited
drastically in how realistic the view truly is.
The 3D walk-around is cool, and it gave me an excuse to go out and actually
measure the lot dimensions. Best part was probably the shadow tool, so that
I could see that "Oh, I guess the back patio only gets 6 hours of sunlight a
day," not the 10 I'd thought. Nice program, but you might be better off just
using the graph paper method. I'm a beginning gardener, and thought that
these programs might make the job easier -- NOPE! Just a fun toy. (Note:
"fun" if you're pretty computer-literate and have had some experience with
design software. My boss bought the same program the same weekend I did
[weird coincidence] and she had a darn time trying to figure it out.)
The Encyclopedia isn't great, and the search function is poor. You'd be
better off with a couple of good reference books.
The Photo LandDesigner allows you to actually scan in a photo of your house
and try out plantings -- but I'm not sure how that works. And the greatest
drawback: the two designer programs don't work together! They're completely
I have hope for Sierra though. Perhaps in another few years, they'll make a
product on 10 CD-Roms rather than 2, with more comprehensive plant
Oh - another note, you can download extra graphics (gates, fences,
birdbaths, etc.) from the Sierra website. Nice if they keep adding things.
(Hrmm, I should probably check this evening. It's been a while since I
Whew - my 2 cents' worth!
> >several different gardening programs available, one each from Broderbund,
> >Sierra, Burpee, which look like they might help gardeners. Have any of
> >tried these programs and could recommend one? If so, what features make
> The Sierra Landscape program (I forgot the actual name) is now
> available at Sam's Club for $19.95 after a $20 rebate. I don't own the
> software so I can't give you any opinion on it.