Whether you tend a garden to grow food or to beautify your outdoor spaces, working in the soil carries many benefits beyond fruit and flowers. Gardening can be hard work, but you can make it easier on yourself this season with the help of one of these gardening-centric smartphone apps:
An excellent visualization tool for landscaping or gardening projects large and small, iScape allows you to see your vision in situ before you start to dig. Take a photo of the site and then play around with the app’s many landscape textures, flowers, trees, walkways, patio furniture, and other outdoor features by dragging and dropping them onto the scene. Save and print once you’re done and you’ll have an easy to reference blueprint for your design.
Get the free version of iScape on iPhone here.
The most productive vegetable gardens require careful planning and organization from the moment you sow the first seed. Like a personal gardening assistant, Garden Plan Pro features helpful tools for designing garden layout and plant placement, adapting to your location to provide information about when to sow and when to harvest. It will even send out email reminders from your to-do list twice a month.
Get Garden Plan Pro for iPhone here.
A fantastic app for beginner gardeners, The Vegetable Growers Handbook contains comprehensive information on how to grow more than 50 vegetables organically. Each entry includes details on planting, spacing, care, harvesting, storing, as well as common problems and how to tackle them.
Get The Vegetable Growers Handbook for free on Android here.
Developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, Leafsnap will allow you to identify that mysterious tree sapling that may have taken root in your yard. Powered by visual recognition software, simply snap a picture of a leaf to identify the tree species. It’s free, and all data generated by the software allows scientists to track and monitor local tree populations.
Get Leafsnap for iPhone here.
With a database of over 20,000 plants, My Garden Answers provides instant plant identification with just the snap of a photo. Including detailed information on plant care, the database contains more than 200,000 answers to common gardening questions. Have a sickly looking plant? This app can also help identify a disease or pest infestation so you can take the proper next steps to cure what ails.
Before shelling out money on seeds, the Grow&Tell app helps take some of the trial and error out of whether the cultivars you’ve chosen will grow successfully in your geographical area. Driven by users like you, you can see how certain crops fare according to your hardiness zone and microclimate. Once you’ve planted and harvested, you can rate the veggie based on taste, yield, and ease of care, which is shared with the community so others can make a more informed choice when they plan their garden next spring.
Save water with Pocket Rain Gauge which tracks rainfall based on your location. Measuring rain across the continental US, this app is updated hourly and provides accurate precipitation reports for the past 24 hours. Though rainfall measurements are calculated by NOAA and NWS satellites, the app also allows you to input your own information to make the app work even better. And it’s free.
Gardening by the moon is an age-old technique whereby the phases of the moon determine specific gardening tasks. For example, during a full moon, gravitational forces cause moisture levels in the soil to rise while light levels after dark are still quite strong; the recommended garden tasks during this phase span planting root crops, perennials, biennials, bulbs, and transplanting since full moons are believed to bolster strong root growth. A great app for tracking all this is Moon and Garden, which provides a lunar calendar, complete with advice on the optimal garden tasks for each day.
9. ID Weeds
Developed by the University of Missouri, ID Weeds is good for identifying weeds that have taken up residence in your garden bed. Search by name, browse their weeds database, or identify weeds based on their peculiar characteristics. While you might just want to pull them regardless, it’s always helpful to know which backyard weeds are edible and therapeutic.
Attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators to your garden with the help of BeeSmart. Simply plug in your zip code to browse a catalog of nearly 1,000 plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and vines) native to your eco-region. You can filter results by bloom color, plant type, light and soil requirements, and the kinds of pollinators you wish to draw into your backyard. Star your favorites and take the list as a handy reference when you go to your garden center.
11. 1001 Gardens
For those who need a bit of inspiration, 1001 Gardens offers a collection of beautiful images of gardens from all over the world. Explore landscapes, DIY projects, flower arrangements, pools, spas, bird feeders, fencing, sheds, garden décor, fire pits, outdoor lighting, tree houses, and more. Post your own images of finished projects to help inspire others too.
12. Garden Manager
If you tend to be on the forgetful side when it comes to gardening, Garden Manager will help you stay on top of each gardening task. You can create alarms to keep on schedule for watering, feeding, and pest-control for each plant cultivar according to its particular needs. Snap photos of each plant as it grows to track its progress, take notes, and marvel in the wonder of nurturing a living organism from seed to harvest.