SOFTWARE : How does your garden compute?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Garden design is one of few professions to have escaped the slavery of the computer. Most leading designers still work with charcoal watercolour on high-quality paper, sitting in conservatories flooded with natural light and the scent of orange blossom.

Such luxuries may soon be a thing of the past. Software houses have long been working on tools to allow computer-aided garden design. Now a group of experts in Florida has come up with a program that can produce a plan of a garden and an unlimited number of three-dimensional views.

The package, Landscape Design 3D, consists of a box of on-screen design tools that allow you to drag and drop walls, roofs, ponds and other elements on to a plan. A huge range of trees, shrubs and flowers can be chosen by category and then added to the design. To check that the elements form an attractive aesthetic whole, work can be interrupted to look at snapshot views in any direction, whether from the ground or from a specified distance up in the air. Once the design is complete, both plans and views can be printed out, and the program can also generate a list of materials and plants needed with a note of what they will cost.

The program, however, cannot show year-by-year growth, so clients will have to imagine the development of their hedges and fruit trees. And the plants listed in the program, and their prices, are American. A British version is expected this spring.