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North Hills Monthly

Landscape and Garden Apps Help Aspiring Growers Succeed

Feb 28, 2018 05:02PM ● By Jennifer Monahan

If the promise of spring has you itching to get outside and start planting but you’re not sure how to begin, read on. Tech help—in the form of gardening and landscaping apps—is readily available for those seeking solace (or salad!) in their own backyards.

GrowIt! helps plant lovers figure out what to grow in whatever space they have from city apartments to suburban backyards. The app has a social media element, allowing users to post photos of plants they want to show off and to offer feedback on each other’s plants and gardens. The community shares advice on what grows well in particular environments and can offer suggestions and troubleshooting when plants are struggling. (Free; available for iOS and Android).

Most amateur gardeners have experienced the frustration of watching a promising plant slowly start to deteriorate. The Garden Compass app helps avoid common pitfalls and is a must for garden planning and maintenance. The free membership allows new users to upload two photos, plus one additional photo each month; experts will help identify unknown plants and plant diseases from the photos. Garden Compass’ Digital Care Calendar offers recommendations specific to the user’s plants—for example, notifications about the care and nurturing of tomatoes or basil. Basic members can list up to three plants for free. Premium (paid) members can include every plant in the garden and have unlimited access to horticulturists who will provide region-specific advice about planting, help identify pests and plant diseases and respond via online chat to individual questions. (Free, with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android).

Burpee’s Garden Time Planner app is ideal for novice gardeners hoping to spend the summer eating homegrown herbs and vegetables. The tool helps users determine when to plant seeds, transplant seedlings and harvest vegetables. Gardeners may read about different varieties of plants and watch how-to gardening videos. (Free; available for iOS and Android).

Gardroid is helpful for gardeners with all levels of experience, but perfect for first-timers. Users scan a list of potential fruits and vegetables, choose which items to plant and get advice on how and when to plant. The app tracks progress so gardeners will know when to harvest, and it gives tips such as how deep and far apart to plant seeds and what kind of conditions are optimal for each plant. (Free; Android only). 

The excellent but more expensive Garden Plan Pro ($7.99; iOS only) allows users to design a garden layout, gives recommended planting and harvesting dates specific to the individual’s area and offers advice about plant spacing and crop rotation. Perennial Match ($4.99; iOS only) is designed to help gardeners preview which plants will not only complement each other visually but also share compatible growing conditions. Though pricier, these apps receive strong reviews from users who say the tools are worth the money.

Have you ever enviously watched the various HGTV hosts as they create digital versions of a client’s dream house/kitchen/yard and then make it happen? The iScape app allows regular homeowners to do exactly that, albeit without the camera crews and $10,000 budget. Landscape do-it-yourselfers can upload a photo of their home, then add in potential features like grass, mulch or pavers for ground cover. Trees, shrubs, flowers and planters can be inserted easily to help users envision what the final product will look like. The app has a multitude of elements to incorporate—from swimming pools to pergolas to plants to fire pits. Options are helpfully grouped by theme to assist users who might want to create a tropical paradise or select among various colors of flowering shrubbery and hedges. Whether trying to choose which annuals will look best in a small bunch around the mailbox or preparing for a massive landscaping project, iScape is the coolest tech tool around for savvy homeowners looking to spruce up their yards this spring. (Free, with in-app purchases; iOS only).

The PRO Landscape Home app has similar functionality to iScape and works on any device. Users can play around with different plants, materials and features to find just the right mix for their budget and taste. Reviewers say the app is easy to use; however, many express frustration that access to the full library of features costs $14.99. The free version contains a variety of options that allow for basic design and planning, but people looking for a broader range of options should either plan to invest in the image library or choose a different app. (Free, with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android).

Whether the project is big or small, spending some advance time planning it out with an app can help make your horticultural dreams a reality.