Landscaping Software – Are They Really Free?

Have you heard of someone using landscape software in landscaping his own garden? If this thing is new to you, then hop in and start learning more about this cool stuff for your Landscaping needs. Landscape design has never been so exciting than before with this software.

You maybe dreaming of landscaping your garden but you think landscaping is too expensive that you hold in to that dream and even leave it as a wish that you think is impossible to achieve. Some other folks think of landscaping as a very expensive idea because they are thinking of hiring a professional landscape designer due to their lack of creativity and artistic talent. However, technological advancements have made a way for easy and convenient landscape design ideas that could make greater advantages to both the novice and professional outdoor designers.

Here are the big deals everyone must know about landscaping software.

1. It is offered as free software. Yes, you read it right. You can get it free. It has copyrights but you can download it for free with proper instructions and permissions.

2. It has great functions. It has tons of designs which can help any beginner to think of any desired design. The 3D features allows you to modify the designs or even try your own creativity to add plants, rocks, lighting, fountain and other accessories on any preferred landscape. You are offered a lot of landscape design choices here. It also has its “aging” software which allows you to see the actual design after a few years. You can then eliminate design choices that may not fit your preferences while on this “aging” process.

3. It even allows printing. You can print out preferred designs and layout variations for contractors to bid on the project or for further personal considerations. The software even provides you a material list for your landscape design. This list even includes the names and numbers of the trees and plants that you need for the designs.

4. It is easily accessible. Downloading your software is easy. You can access this free software directly from Google search and select from the list. There is no opt-in stuff that you have to deal with. It keeps you free from disclosing your personal details as it lets you download the software quickly. You could even delete your download and look for your perfect fit without any hassle.

Freeware Consequences

Nothing is totally perfect. We all have our limitations or weaknesses. You have to understand that your amazing software has few limitations too.

• The free version usually comes as a demo version. Just like any other freeware, the software may not let you change garden designs, especially for the layout of the flower bed. Changing sizes, locations of the trees and plants and the colors are the only features that are usually allowed for harmony and balance. If you want to use the special advanced features in your landscape design, you can upgrade it to its full version.

• It does not offer technical support. Your free version software does not include company support about the technical features. The full support is catered by the upgraded or full version purchase.

The Right Choice

If you will weigh the consequences to its actual freeware features, you can see that this has still more advantages for your landscape project. It depends on your particular needs and preferences in deciding whether to upgrade or not. A new designer may take advantage of the free version for personal use. Experts can both go for the freeware or full version based on the demands of clients and contractors. If you want to start a landscaping career, there are many courses and resources available for you. You can even start designing with the freeware and upgrade to its latest version once you have saved enough to get more projects for more success. The choice is all yours.

How To Save Money On Your Landscaping Project

The planning stage of creating a landscape requires you to carefully think about what you would like to do, figuring out the budget for your landscaping. If you do not carefully plan your landscape, the process can become very costly and you might end up with something you do not want. When you think carefully about what you are doing and create a plan, you’re much more likely to experience a successful landscape design for your home.

The first thing you should know is your landscape budget. Do you have enough money to execute your entire design straight away? You need to decide how much money you have on hand for each stage of your design, and what you’ll do if you cross the line under finances. The main thing is you need to set a target amount for your landscape project and then stay within the budget.

As a rule of thumb, the cost of landscaping is roughly about 5-10 percent of the value of your home. This cost estimation includes decks, patios, irrigation, fencing, ponds, and other elements you want to incorporate into your backyard. It is not necessary to finish everything at the same time. It’s much more practical to progressively make improvements over the years with ready money than getting yourself into heavy debt because of landscaping.

Before when you do your budgeting for your landscaping project. There are many hidden costs in nearly any landscaping project. It is imperative to be alert to some of the costs that you might not usually think of before you begin a project. Or else, you will find that the projects true cost is much more than what you have budgeted for. Worse still, you may realize that you are unable to afford the monthly expenses that is needed to sustain the operation of your landscaping design.

To give you some quick guide, here are some areas where you can possibly under estimate the costs:

The first hidden cost is having landscaping features that require lighting. Most people only consider the cost of buying those landscaping features without considering the cost of operation. You can minimize your electrical bill by buying energy saving lighting. Another way to reduce your electrical cost is to reserve the use of your outdoor lighting for times when you are entertaining people outdoor, or when you are sitting in your yard at night.

Another hidden cost is the cost of water consumption. Water consumption for some landscaping feature can cost a bomb to your monthly electrical bill. Some examples of landscaping design that need substantial water consumption include the water sprinkler system for your lawn, a small pond and your water fountain. It is a good idea to bear in mind the amount of additional water you will be using to. This can add up to be quite a bit of extra water, and if you city charges more money once your usage reaches a certain point, it can be even more costly. Some people spend a fortune making expensive water features, only to realize that they are unable to afford the daily operation. What a waste.

Last but not least is the cost of soil improvement. If you have landscaping materials such as a plant or a lawn, you will have to add fertilizer to your soil regularly in order to maintain the healthy grown of your plant. The costs of adding fertilizer to your yard can easily add up. This problem can be minimized by choosing plants that grow well in the soil you have, or in near conditions, so that you can save a great deal on soil amendment. Most local master gardeners will give you guidance on native plants for free, or for a very small fee.

There are ways to save your landscaping cost. One way is to approach your neighbors about sharing costs. If you gather your resources, you can get some good bargain on items bought in bulk, and everyone benefits. At the same time, you can split the rental fees for machinery such as tillers, chippers, and aerators. If everyone chips in a few dollars, you can work out a calendar that lets each neighbor use the equipment before it is due back. This is how you can lessen the costs of your landscaping.

Once you’ve done your homework, and know exactly how much you can afford to spend every month, you can make your purchases without buying excess materials that waste your money. By heeding a few of these money-saving tips, you can hold down your costs and create a beautiful landscape that you can afford to maintain.

Insurance for Landscapers: How Do You Know If Your Guy Is Covered?

A lot of value can be found in small, locally owned landscaping companies for your home improvement project. In many cases, you will find that the smaller, family owned firm is more flexible, more responsive to your specific needs, and less expensive than the large national brands.

Unfortunately, there is another side of this coin. Mixed in with the excellent small firms are some bad apples that you definitely want to avoid. Reports of scams, shabby work, and accidents are all too common. So you must do your homework if you want to go with the small business instead of the national brand.

The best place to start when checking out any contractor is with insurance. Insurance is the easiest thing to check, yet the most overlooked part of a landscaper’s credentials. It is the easiest thing to check because all you have to do is tell the landscaper to have his insurance company send you a certificate. They can do this by email, snail mail, or fax. It must come from the insurance company in order to be valid, and it should contain your information as well. If you get any resistance to this request, cross this landscaper off of your list and move on; they’re not insured. It is not acceptable to have a copy of the insurance certificate tucked into the estimate package.

  • Special note: if you are having tree work done by the landscaper (tree removal, tree cutting, tree trimming, etc.), the insurance certificate must specify it or the work will not be covered.

Insurance is the most overlooked part of landscaper credentials because we as consumers are over-assured by false claims of coverage. Just because there is a sticker on a truck or billboard advertisement proclaiming “fully licensed and insured” does not mean that the insurance will cover what you need it to.

  • Example: a worker fell from a ladder in New York in 2009. His employer did not have a workers compensation insurance policy, only a general liability policy which does not cover workers’ injuries. The homeowner was sued and held responsible for all of the worker’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering – a seven figure settlement!
  • Example: Service Magic proclaimed a landscaper to be pre-screened, so the homeowner assumed that he had all of the insurance coverage needed. The fact is that insurance coverage is not part of the Service Magic pre-screening process. You could be (and most likely are) hiring somebody with no insurance. Contractors without insurance are attracted to sites like Service Magic because of Service Magic’s screening process which does not include insurance. Avoid Service Magic and sites like it altogether.
  • Example: a landscaping company in Northern Virginia agreed to remove a hazardous tree from a property in Arlington. A worker was electrocuted by high voltage lines while working. The insurance company would not cover the damages because the landscaper was working outside of the parameters of coverage.

All of these examples of uninsured and underinsured contractors are easily avoided by simply examining the certificate of insurance of the contractor. Look for three things on the certificate.

  1. General Liability – This insures against any damages done to property during the project, provided the contractor is performing the kind of work specified on the policy.
  2. Workers Compensation – This insures against injury to workers while working on the project. It is the most important part of the certificate because it is the most expensive policy in a binder, and it can have the most expensive claims to cover.
  3. Commercial Auto – This is often overlooked, but very important because a personal policy will not cover accidents that occur while working for hire. So auto insurance must be included on the contractor’s certificate.

Of course, there are other things to consider when hiring a landscape contractor. But if you start with insurance, you will weed out many of the unqualified firms right away.