I have been researching landscape design software and have come to the conclusion that I have to buy much more than I need to get the features I desire like 2D options, labeling, plant listing and raw materials calculator. Drawing by hand has worked very well for me over the past 5 yrs, but I want to 'ramp up' my service to meet the expectations of young clientele and be competitive. Realtime Landscape Architect seems to give the most bang for the buck on a budget but I regret that everything must be self taught and the plant database is limited for Texas. Additionally, the 'cartoonish' appearance of some the design options and 'walk through' options with birds singing and water falling are really a turn off for me personally.
I work primarily with suburban residential clients and would welcome any feedback from those who have adapted to design software successfully on a smaller budget. Pros? Cons? Was it worth it? Did your clients respond more favorably to one style of design over the other?