By Sandra O’Hare
As a novice to gardening, I looked to the iPad App Store for help in learning and planning what I would like to put in my yard in the future. Each app was very different and had very different promises. I settled on five gardening apps that appeared to have what I was looking for.
Gardening iPad Apps
My first impression of Landscaper’s Companion can be summed up in one word: professional. The start page quickly led into a plant page that offered a plant listing. The Plant List drop down listing offered 16 areas of plants including annuals, grasses, trees, roses, and cacti to name a few. After choosing an area of interest, it then directed me to another drop down that included scientific and common names along with thumbnail pictures. Each of the drop down listings were beautiful, clean, and easily readable.
Upon choosing a plant, all the information a gardener would ever need was listed. The description, type, temperature zones, growth rate, height, width, watering, sun, and shade needs were each covered. For a lot of information on each plant, it was organized very well and easily readable with icons for some of the items. Many of the plants had multiple pictures offered, which was also helpful in getting a real picture of the plants. Several other features including a search option, notes, and the ability to mark plants as a favorite were well covered.
Landscaper’s Companion currently has around 2,300 plants and 6,000 images. It has room to grow by adding more plants and pictures (which they state is done periodically), but the odds are that this app can answer your questions and help you find the plants you are searching for.
After reading several reviews of the Vegetable Garden Guide, my hopes were high for this app. I clicked on the icon with excitement only to be taken to a blah start screen. My first view of the six options available led my eyes directly to the “Our Other Apps” area. Next I noticed, in the same non-eye grabbing font, the information I was there for: Common Vegetables, Herbs and Spices; and Less Common Vegetables.
Each item listed after entering the major listings contained a thumbnail picture, which was nicely laid out. Scrolling down I realized that this was a fairly basic gardening guide, as it didn’t list a variety of types of each plant, but a generic “tomato” with its stats to cover all the types and sizes of the plant. The information for planting, growing, harvesting, and insect/disease issues were each covered, but again, this would not be very helpful since the needs of different breeds can vary.
This app reminded me that you get what you pay for and, at its price of $1.99, I got the same info I would have from the back of a seed packet.
The Essential Garden Guide is a very get-down-to-business gardening guide. The app opens up to a drop-down Guide button, which offers several options for a beginner or seasoned gardener.
A beginner gardener would find the learning tools of Garden Type and Garden Care very useful in selecting what their needs would be for size, soil, preparation, maintenance, and common problems. The tasks of what kind of soil, when to plant, transplanting, soil tilling, watering, and fertilization are covered with ease. Each section offers advice in a personable and easily readable tone.
The seasoned gardener may skip directly to the fun stuff: Vegetables, Fruit, and Harvesting options. Each separate drop-down offers a very clean looking directory along with pictures. Once a plant is selected, a larger picture is shown along with information, such as planting, care, harvest (including what can be done with harvested food), and problems.
The Essential Garden Guide is a good quick gardening reference guide for beginners iPad app. For a gardener wanting a more specific tool with the ability to search by name, scientific name, or rarer garden plants, this leaves a bit to be desired.
The eye catching icon of Garden Guide HD is what grabbed my attention while perusing the gardening iPad apps. I uploaded it promptly and checked it out. The start page was lovely and exciting and led straight into the book layout of the guide. Unfortunately, each time I reopened the start page, a small welcome page also opened that contained grammatical errors. Instantly, my hopes were questioned.
The layout was amazing, fun to look at, and easily navigated. The search option was handy and led me to the plants I searched for, as long as they were not too specific. Each plant had a short description, its requirements, zones, bloom time, and care features listed. Another great feature was Type searching, which offered the option of perusing through categories of annuals, carnivorous plants, ferns, fruits, and several more.
This app is a great tool with an unbeatable layout and has a lot of potential for future growth. Spelling errors (Help Section and Start Page) were unprofessional, but could be easily remedied. More plants (only 750 are offered), and more search options (height, color, size) could help make this garden app a front-runner in the gardening apps arena.
The darling cartoon-like flower icon for A to Z Flower is very different looking from all the other gardening icons. The icon is hip, trendy, and has a good picture voice. Upon first glancing the screen shots, I was again impressed. The layout seemed organized, clean, and easily navigable.
Amazingly, A to Z Flower was free! My first discovery after uploading this app was its simplicity. There is no real start page or searching options. Immediately you are on the flower page with the common names only listed on the left side bar alphabetically. Very handy if you know what you are looking for.
I had expected more picture views of each plant, but each appeared to have only one close-up available of the budding head, but not the stem. With no heights or plant needs listed, I was left guessing as to so the plant specifics I had hoped for.
The kicker for this app was the prompt to purchase a “flower pack of 150” for $1.99 that showed up after I had viewed about 10 flowers, and then after each continuing flower. Although A to Z Flower appeared promising with its simplicity, it is lacking in fundamental features and annoying its ads has led me to kick it to the curb.