Garden smarter and more efficiently: there’s an app for that
08 Jan 2017
Social media has spawned new outlets for gardeners, with apps of all sorts devoted to helping them garden smarter and more efficiently.
By Haley Gray
It’s easy for green thumbs to feel blue in winter. But apps for iPads and smartphones let you design your landscape, pick out perennials, lay out a vegetable garden and much more during the winter months and beyond. Whether you need inspiration, tips or professional help, there’s an app for it. Here are just a few of the many garden apps available online from the Apple store or Google Play.
This app virtually redesigns your yard by adding elements like plants, paths, water features, beds and fences so you can visualize the results before investing in changes. Snap a photo of the area you’d like to landscape and use the app to add items of your choosing to the photo. Then save your virtual landscape until you get around to making changes. Users can make do with a free version that has limited element options or pay à la carte for additional items.
Garden Plan Pro
Want to install a vegetable garden? This app specializes in helping you achieve productive vegetable, herb or fruit gardens, with tips on crop rotation, plant succession, when to plant based on local climate, and more. No matter your garden’s shape or size, or whether you plant in rows or raised beds or use square-foot gardening, this app adjusts for all scenarios.
This app allows you to send photos of plants and pests in your garden to a team of experts who identify them for you. It’s more useful than photo-matching apps, which often aren’t accurate because they crowd-source IDs. The downside is it takes an unpredictable amount of time to get a response. But if you’re not in a rush, Garden Compass is a good resource. It also recommends specific garden products to help all types of plants thrive in your yard.
Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens
This app is perfect for gardeners with small yards, or those with just a balcony and containers. The app lists nearly 100 plants, which are categorized by zone, color, drought tolerance and other criteria, and provides horticultural information about each. It also lets you purchase the plants online by linking to nursery websites.
Before you plant any perennial, this app gives you the skinny on what growing conditions it prefers (zone rating and sun, shade and water needs), plus the plant’s height, invasiveness tendency, deer attractiveness, drought tolerance and other factors. You’ll also get photos of the plant that you can combine with other perennial photos to see what looks nice together.
Garden Manager: Plant Alarm
This app sets alarms for when to water and fertilize individual plants in your garden. You can also keep a photo log of your plants to track their growth, and easily post pictures on social media to share the (sometimes literal) fruits of your labor.
Colorado Noxious Weeds
The Colorado Department of Agriculture created this app for identifying invasive nonnative weeds like myrtle spurge and orange hawkweed. Although many invasive plants have pretty flowers—myrtle spurge was once touted as a landscape plant in Colorado nurseries—they harm the environment by choking out natives. This app identifies invasive weeds and tells how to mitigate them in your garden.
This app by Thomas Hansen offers backyard gardening tips. The app is free, but only a few of the articles it contains are; the rest are pay-per-piece but it’s a small charge. Topics range from setting up a backyard garden, understanding fertilizers and dealing with plant enemies to soil health, weed mitigation and planting tips.
RHS Grow Your Own
Designed by the Royal Horticultural Society, this app is for gardeners who want to grow their own food. Search for popular fruits and veggies and use the tools it provides to determine your best likelihood of success, based on your gardening experience and the space and time you can commit. Once you settle on plants, the app guides you through sowing to harvesting. It also provides frost, watering, and pest and disease information.
Insects & Organic Gardening
This fairly new application offers organic gardening tips and tidbits on everything from soil composition to sustainable practices. The insect database tells how to attract beneficial bugs or deter pests, and there’s also info on soil composition, companion planting, chemical-free growing practices and more.
BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener
This app is for gardeners who want pollinator-friendly yards—and who doesn’t? The app features nearly 1,000 pollinator-friendly native plants, and filters help you select them based on the pollinators you wish to attract, including bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles and moths. You’ll also find information on growing conditions and a list of regionally specific plants based on the geography and ecology of your area. Just enter your ZIP code and the app does the rest.