Gardening help can be one of the toughest things to come by. After spending hours on Google trying to figure out whether your plant needs more water, less fertilizer, more sunlight, or new potting soil, it's easy to get discouraged and give up on the hobby altogether.
Admittedly, there may be some truth to the conception of gardener as luddite -- after all, gardening is about getting down and dirty with the earth and you definitely don't need an iPhone for that. But when green thumbs and technology converge, something beautiful happens: Suddenly, gardening isn't so discouraging anymore. Here are the five best apps to give you a leg up in the garden, whether you're a newbie or a pro.
5. Landscaper's Companion This app is perfect as a first step toward incorporating tech and gardening because it's not super involved. Landscaper's companion is basically a digital reference guide to a huge array of all different kinds of plants.
You can browse by category (there are 17), if you're not sure what you're looking for. And once you select a plant, it gives you the corresponding basic care info: zone, sun exposure, watering guidelines. This app gets our vote because it includes the works (flowers, trees, herbs, and vegetables), but check out Flower Pedia Lite for a flower-specific reference guide with many similar features.
4. Gardens This app was conceived as a digital gardening notebook. You can take pictures of plants and add little notes, which can then be shared to other social media platforms if you're into that. There's also a shopping feature we're not totally sold on. But the app is free so we think it's worth it for the personal documentation capabilities.
3.The New Sunset Western Garden Book This app is essentially a copy of a book. But it's way cooler than a book because it's interactive. (No offense, books). What we like best about this app are the how-to videos and the stunning high-res photos. This is app give us hope that our garden might blossom into a beautiful wonderland someday, too.
2.Eden Garden Designer We sort of feel like we have to explain ourselves on this one. This app looks hokey as hell (does this remind anyone else of the Sims?), but it's the best garden-planning app out there that incorporates flowers. Maybe this is sort of a cry for help; we would love to see more planning apps for flower gardens, please! (Side note: Garden Plan Pro is the best app out there for planning veggie/fruit/herb gardens, and it is leaps and bounds ahead of this app. Garden Tracker is also awesome, but food-only).
1. Garden Compass This app is the best all-round gardening app. It has a lot of the features that the other apps have (like photo sharing and plant info), but it stands out because you can also use it to identify plants, plant diseases, and insects by picture. Which is to say, you can literally take a photo of something in your garden and someone will message you back with info. There are other apps for IDing plants like Leafsnap, but this is the only one we know of that allows you to communicate with a real person about said plants -- a.k.a. the best feature ever.
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The future is here. You put this device in a pot or in your garden bed, and it tells you when your plant is thirsty. It's too pricey for the casual gardener and probably unnecessary for the expert gardener, but this might be the best thing ever for some of you tech geeks out there.