For those of us lucky enough to not live in the middle of the city or to have a little land to call our own, the garden is often the most neglected part of the family home. Most fall into the category of either a complete mess, or the whole thing is turfed over. Well no more, geeks! Rise up, and MakeUseOf these wonderful apps and website to plan your complete garden makeover. Get your fingers grubby for once!
Here then are my top 5 picks for garden planner apps and sites; online and for your PC, Mac, and iPad.
A word about Android: Like most niche topics, Android has a wealth of low quality “guide” type apps, but very little worth mentioning – even on the paid side. My advice – use one of the web apps listed below instead. If you know of a good garden design plan app for Android, do please get in touch in the comments.
Premium Veg Planner: Garden Plan Pro [iPad] and GrowVeg.com
Both offer all the functionality you would want in a garden planner:
- A variety of planting methods for area planting or square foot gardening.
- Planting calendar localized to your part of the world.
- Handy crop rotation system that prevents the build up of diseases.
- Full catalog of vegetables with growing advice and stats.
- Email reminders of what to sow and plant out each month.
The iPad app is available for $4.99 and is by far the best tablet garden planner out there.
The Flash-based web-app is just as easy. There’s a one-month trial for new users, after which it costs £15/$25 for a yearly subscription. Don’t take my word for it though; this video gives a great walkthrough of basic features.
Though separate products, your plans can be synchronized between the online site and the iPad, giving you access out in the field while you do the serious planning work online. Despite the cost, this is my weapon of choice for the green revolution.
Free Veg Planner: Smart Gardener (Online)
A very professionally made free web app with comprehensive planning functions, plating guides, and my favorite feature: what can I plant now?
With your area and temperatures set, and your beds defined, you can click on any week in the calendar year to get a full breakdown of things you can plant – really useful if you’ve got a free weekend coming up and have a bit of unused space. Personally, I prefer to just buy a tonne of seeds then plant them wherever they will fit every week, but I’m sure some of you like a little more forward planning.
The Recommend Plan is also a superb feature found nowhere else; simply choose the plants you want, make sure all your settings are correct, and Smart Gardener will automatically create a plan for you with ideal placements, and even take into consideration a 4 year crop rotation schedule.
The only downside is that the planting varieties are US-centric; though UK users can still make use of the functionality, you may need to substitute varieties for their closest relative.
For a UK centered approach, check out VGALive.
Vegetable Timings: Sprout Robot (USA only, online)
If you’re in the US and not interested in the minutiae of placements and planning, Sprout Robot is a wonderfully simple little web app that tells you what to plan week by week – customized to your zip code’s growing conditions. You can also sign up for planting reminders via email, and if you purchase the seeds from them you’ll get those at the right time along with instructions. Perfect for beginners who just want to get growing.
Cross Platform: Garden Planner (Windows, Mac, Linux)
With an online trial (you can’t save, but printing works and you could always take screenshots), this Adobe Air based app is focussed more on the non-edible aspects of gardening: shrubs, flowers, borders, bedding, and fencing. A full, un-watermarked version costs around $30.
The app is competent, but not outstanding. For basic design purposes it’s sufficient; though you can find more expensive packages that will give you a 3D view.
Visualization: Garden Puzzle Web Tool
This web planner is a pseudo 3D visualizer that allows you to place 3D objects onto some predefined backgrounds. If the supplied generic scenes closely match your home or garden then great, otherwise you’ll need to upgrade in order to upload your own garden images. The app comes with a huge variety of ornate bushes, tree, and flowers, though some are locked in the free version. If you have some specific plants in mind and you’d like to see how they’d look in your garden, this is a great tool, but otherwise limited in functionality.
With these many options, both free and paid, you have absolutely no excuse not to start growing something in the new year. Make it a resolution – whether it’s a garden makeover to change that boring lawn, or the start of a fulfilling journey to complete self sufficiency in vegetables – gardening is wonderful.
Know of any other awesome web app or free software I missed? By all means, let us know in the comments – but make sure it is indeed awesome.