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10 Best Garden Design Apps for Your iPad

  • Aimed at the serious vegetable, fruit and herb gardener, this app helps plan for next year’s harvest. Fortunately there is a video tutorial to get you started, because the app has many features and, on first look, does not seem intuitive. It will find your location and keep track of plants to grow in your climate and when to plant them. With free registration at, you can keep track of your garden, store a backup plan, and receive email planting reminders. Save up to five years of garden information, including notes about your successes and failures. It will remember where you have planted your crops and alert you if you need to rotate something to a different location.

iPad app Florafolia l GardenistaiPad app Florafolia l Gardenista

  • Marnie Majorelle, of the Brooklyn garden design firm Alive Structures, recommended this app to me and says it’s helpful if you use native plants.  It is a compendium of plants which you can browse or search by specific criteria.  Plants are organized by trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, ferns, and vines.  You can search by a long list of characteristics including growing conditions (sun exposure, water needs, USDA zone); flower color; leaf shape; autumn foliage color; wildlife benefit (“attracts butterflies”), and season of interest.  There is an easy-to-use notes section where you can write comments about a plant and there is a handy “favorites” section. 

5. The Landscaper’s Companion—Plant and Garden Reference Guide, $6.99 from Stevenson Software

  • Another compendium like Florafolio, this app can help you make and organize plant lists for yourself or your clients. Manhattan Garden designer Bruce James of  City/Country Gardeners says he uses this app even though he found the search function somewhat difficult to get used to.  The Landscaper’s Companion offers an extensive database of plants (it claims 26,000) you can search by various criteria including size, color, cultivation requirements, and resistance to deer. As with Florafolio, there is a “favorites” file for organizing plant selections.  You can also email plant lists and individual plant fact sheets… a very handy way for the professional gardener to communicate with clients. To add your own pictures, you have to upgrade to the $9.99 “Professional” version. 


garden design app for iPad l gardenistagarden design app for iPad l gardenista

6. Dirr’s Tree and Shrub Finder, $14.99 from Timber Press

  • Several garden designers recommended this app to me, which is not surprising since Michael Dirr is a rock star of the horticulture world. His exhaustive The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants ($67.41 at Amazon) is revered and universally depended upon by serious gardeners.  The app is based on the classic book and purports to cover 9,400 woody plants including trees, shrubs, vines, and ground covers.  The photos are excellent. Tap on Aesculus parviflora, Bottlebrush Buckeye, and you get a choice of three varieties. Tap on the photo of the species and you get six larger pictures, including an amazing closeup of the flower. However, not every entry is illustrated.  Aesculus chinensis, Chinese Buckeye, is one of many with no picture.  It’s disappointing, and I’m hoping this will be corrected in updates. Like Landscaper’s Companion, it has a favorites tool and you can email plant info.  I found the search function rather mysterious and would have appreciated some instructions.

7. Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens, $2.99 from Sutro Media

  • This specialized app lists fewer than 100 plants, all handpicked to work in a small garden.  There is an informative introduction page which tells you what information is included about each plant and describes how the search function should be used (Dirr app designers, take note).  Type in “Echinacea” and you get Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower. Tap on the photo and you get two other shots, all with the photographer’s name noted in the bottom left corner. Along with the usual cultivation tips there is a pronunciation guide and a link to an online nursery where you can buy the plant.

Garden design iPad app for layout and planning l GardenistaGarden design iPad app for layout and planning l Gardenista

8. Garden Tracker-Bumper Crop, $3.99 from Portable Databases

  • This app is for the vegetable gardener.  It will help you create a graphic illustration of your bed, showing which crops you have planted. You can choose from the pre-loaded list of vegetables with their growing information or add other plants or varieties of your own.  After you set up the garden, you can input dates for watering, fertilizing, and harvesting.  There is a “Pests” feature with a (non-searchable) list of more than 50 insects and diseases common to vegetable gardens.  Unfortunately the photos are quite small, which is frustrating because many pests resemble each other.  In what appears to be compensation for that shortcoming, there are links to posts with more information on Wikipedia and Google.

9. Gardening Toolkit HD, $3.99 from Applied Objects

  • This app lets you select plants from a database and move them into up to four virtual gardens.  Because there is no feature to record the dimensions of your actual space, these “gardens” are really just lists of plants.  In the database is information about a plant’s cultivation needs, but when you add it to your garden most of the cultivation information disappears.  It is frustrating to have to go back to the database every time you want to know more about the plant, although there is a space for making notes. When you add a plant, the app automatically lists the current date as the planting date. This is confusing if you are planning a garden that you will plant later.

10. Perennial Match, $4.99 from Harmony Systems, Inc.

  • This app contains an easily accessed database of perennials, but its real purpose is to allow you to see how plants look together.  You select from a long list that includes a lot of natives and place them in a template that shows their photos side by side.  Tap the data button and it will display the requirements for each plant in adjoining columns for easy comparison.  If you can’t find the plant you want, it is not difficult to add a photo of it as long as you know both its Latin and common names.  The template will only allow a maximum of three plants to be compared at one time, which some users may find limiting.

By the way, if the idea of taking your beautiful, shiny iPad out into the garden with its dirt and water hazards fills you with dread, here’s a tip.  Seal it up in a plastic bag.  It will stay clean and dry and still respond to your touch.

Want to ID plants and leaves on the fly? See Identify Leaves and Flowers (There’s an iPhone App for That)

For more, see The Top 10 Gardening Apps You Need Now.

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