It's great to "unplug", leave the phone inside, and get out in the garden. But in their own time and place, the various screens of today - tablets, smart phones, computers - can be garden tools too. You may associate "apps" with time-killing games, researching product info, or checking e-mail, but there are indeed seriously useful apps that have been developed by respected and impartial garden experts. Think of them as a "Digital Toolshed". They can even serve to motivate the disconnected-from-nature youth to get out in the garden.
We have compiled a list of some great Garden Apps that can be useful to beginners and experts alike (in no particular order):
1.) Leafsnap, NatureGate, iPlanzen
Electronic field guides such as Leafsnap, NatureGate, andiPflanzencan ID plants on the fly. Snap a plant's photo or take a picture of a tree's leaf against a white background—and submit it instantly for analysis. Or click through a list of characteristics (leaf shape, flower color, plant's height) to make the flower or plant identification. Accuracy results do vary.
2.) The Landscaper’s Companion
IPhone/Ipad app for $4.99 or via Web access - FREE
The companion is an encyclopedia of sorts, with more than 20,000 plants and vegetables listed. You can browse an alphabetized index that is separated into 16 categories, including houseplants and vegetables, or you can search by name.
Each plant page includes a profile with the plant’s zone, growth rate, water and sun requirements, color and typical height and width. The descriptions are basic but include important elements — like whether the plant has thorns, for instance — that would help a gardener prepare for a planting.
On each plant page you can leave notes for yourself, e-mail the description or add photos of your own. While the Landscaper’s Companion is encyclopedic, it’s not highly useful as a how-to guide. The Landscaper's Companion is an available app for Iphone/Ipad devices (cost $4.99), and alternatively available on the web at: https://www.landscaperscompanion.com/
3.) Garden Guide - App or online - FREE
Garden Guide is an app version of the popular book by the same title, is also available online from ATZ Software for free.
Garden Guide includes a wide range of information, from the low-down on plant site selection, composting, and organic pest control strategies to links to helpful gardening websites.
4.) Garden Squared - Android App - FREE
This app assists in planning and tracking of square foot gardens, patio container gardens, seedlings, staging , and raised garden beds. When creating a new bed the dimensions can be selected-- ranging from 1 by 1 to 4 by 8 square foot plots. Details of every plot can be saved along with a journal entry/task tracker. This is a valuable tool for creating successful gardens by learning from past success and mistakes.
5.) Armitage's Greatest Perennials and Annuals - App for $4.95
Developed by Dr. Armitage - a world renown horticulturist, plantsman lecturer, and author. This app includes information on over 70 of Dr. Armitage's top picks of garden plants. You may search all plants, or use the filter to search for annuals, perennials or those grown in sun, shade or for foliage or flowers. Scroll through any plant for useful information, swipe through hundreds of photos & detail about the species: hardiness zones, deer and rabbit appeal, bloom time, height, colors. Cost: $4.95
*TIP: If the idea of taking your beautiful, shiny iPad or Smart Phone out into the garden with its dirt and water hazards fills you with dread, then seal it up in a plastic bag. It will stay clean and dry and still respond to your touch.