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A useful garden planner application can make planning your garden a breeze. Longtime gardeners know the value of a program that does more than just put pretty pictures in a few empty boxes. There are currently two excellent garden planning apps out there that we feel would qualify as the best garden planning apps: Mother Earth News/ Territorial Seed app by Growing Interactive, Ltd., and the Smart Gardener app. Both offer a free trial but require you to pay for the full version. Sadly there don’t appear to be any free gardening apps that are working at this time.
Choosing the best garden planning app for you can be difficult. We’ve broken down the features offered by our two choices to help you decide which is the best garden planning app for you and your homestead.
What it is: The location of your home is known as a microclimate, and it exists in a planting zone that is determined based on precipitation and temperature. Zone recommendations help you understand what plants will grow best in your gardening zone. The ability to adjust for microclimates and other fine-tuning is even better.
Who did it better: Growing Interactive, Ltd.
While both garden planning apps had a climate option, Growing Interactive, Ltd. also allowed manual adjustment for your microclimate. Smart Gardener does it automatically, making adjustments such as dual planting periods in hotter climates automatic but removing your ability, as best we could see, to manually adjust them.
Plant Lists and Guides
What it is: Being able to pick out what types of plants you’re planning to plant and put them in your garden is a crucial part of garden planning. Most applications do this with the use of small graphic images, so you have a pictorial diagram of your garden. This is a bare-minimum must-have. Plant guides should have the basic growing information, including height, hardiness, growing conditions, days to maturity, and ideally, companion plants.
Who did it better: Smart Gardener
Both garden planning apps have a vast library of plants to choose from, but it’s the Smart Gardener app that goes the extra mile and lets you pick out individual varieties from a library of more than 3000 options. While the companion planting aspect of Growing Interactive, Ltd.’s version is nice, it’s not enough to cover the gap. Smart Gardener was a clear winner here.
What it is: This is where the magic happens. The layout is usually an empty open area with a grid where you build your garden. At a minimum, a garden plan should let you make empty boxes of custom size to fill in with plants, but the ability to thoroughly plan and design your garden is ideal. Pathways, materials, and even decorations as options to place in the vegetable garden are a huge help in planning how you’re going to grow your fruits and vegetables.
Who did it better: Growing Interactive, Ltd.
The ability to add extra things like trellises, pathways, fences, and even structures such as greenhouses give you a much more comprehensive way of designing your garden. When you’re limited to empty shapes that you fill with vegetables, you can create a great vegetable garden. Still, the additional options make things smoother and give a better visual representation, which is vital for some garden designers.
What it is: These are the extras that make moving your garden planning off paper and online the better option. Being able to track when you planted, transplanted, and harvested your vegetables is a crucial part of determining success. There are several extra options that can be useful when journaling about your garden.
Who did it better: Undecided
Both the Smart Gardener App and the Growing Interactive, Ltd. app have the same basic functions in their journals; it’s the extras that make them unique. The benefit of those extras is very dependent on the person planning. I find the plant and part shopping lists offered by Growing Interactive, Ltd. much more useful than the To-Do’s that Smart Gardener offers. That said, I can appreciate the idea of being able to glance at the app first thing in the morning and know what I need to do in my garden that day.
Growing Interactive Ltd.
Extra Feature We Loved: It has to be all the extra options for designing your garden. This planner is way more than just planter box layouts. It’s got everything from compost bins to watering lines to add to your plan so you can be in control of every detail.
Cost: $10 for 90 days or $30 for One Year
Extra Feature We Loved: The “How much should I plant?” feature. This little portion of the profile can be a significant help on the homestead. I know that I’ve had to manually calculate how many plants I should buy or grow from seed per person, and it simply becomes overwhelming.