One of the greatest joys of gardening is the escape that it provides — the opportunity to completely untether yourself from the buzzing, beeping and blinking trappings of modern life and reconnect with the natural world. Sure, it’s a practice often dictated by perfectionism and the latest and greatest paraphernalia — I just have to have that Saboten heirloom transplant trowel or I’ll die! — but in the end, gardening is experimental, solitary, primal. This is why throwing an app-filled smartphone or, god forbid, tablet into your tool kit before heading outside to dig feels so deeply incongruous to many gardeners. Yet many others, even grizzled green thumbs, are embracing app-based gardening and landscaping tools as a way to further connect with the soil, keep organized and informed, and, of course, increase their yields.    


Kate Murphy over at the New York Times recently rounded up a few fresh gardening and landscaping apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Some are free while some cost a few bucks depending on what type of mobile device you’re using. I’ve listed Murphy’s picks below as well as several other popular gardening apps that I’ve been seeing around the interwebs. Is there a gardening app you’ve started using this season? Is there anything specific that you look for when buying and using a gardening app? How do you feel about gardening apps, in general? Please do tell in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


NYT picks:

Garden Tracker (iPad, iPhone)

“Garden Tracker lets you size and plan your garden plots, plant your vegetables, and then track your garden’s progress, including days to harvest, days since watered, and days since last fertilized. All this info is conveniently referenced in a grid you design.”


Home Outside (iPad, iPhone)

“What do you want your Home Outside to look like? With HOD, you can imagine and arrange your dream landscape, without ever picking up a pencil — or go beyond landscapes to create beautiful abstract designs!”


Landscapers Companion (iPad, iPhone, Android)

“Enjoyed by thousands of gardeners, Landscaper's Companion is your reference guide to trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, and all sorts of plants. Containing information on over 22,000 plants and 15,000 pictures, Landscaper's Companion makes an excellent resource for the casual gardener, landscaper, aspiring botanist, or anyone looking for a simple, easy-to-use plant guide.”


iVeggieGarden (iPad, iPhone)

“iVeggieGarden was developed by people who have a passion for growing vegetables. We've relied on years of first-hand experience to identify the most relevant information about vegetable gardening, and organize it into an effective, flexible, and easy-to-use product. We've also provided helpful tools that allow you to track the progress of each item in your garden, manage multiple gardens, build a shopping list, track purchases, and more.”


Dig my Garden (iPad, iPhone)

“The Bloom Bar™ sets the standard for a garden app on iPhone4 and iPod Touch. This innovative tool gives you a bird's-eye view in each of your gardens; simply slide the garden gate to watch the bloom colors unfold each season!


Gardening (iPad, iPhone)

“Plant a garden. Its always rewarding to plant your own garden and know that you're getting quality produce. Save money and eat healthy.”


Grow Buddy (Android)

“Grow Buddy is a sweet tool to track your indoor gardening progress. No more 7-day restrictions, Grow Buddy allows you to take notes, take images, track pH, EC/PPM and much more without any limitation! This version lacks support for Graphs, Rooms, Feeding Schedules, Cloners and more that you get when you buy the pro version!”


Gardenate (iPad, iPhone, Android)

“Gardenate is intended to make it easier to keep your kitchen garden growing and producing. Each month the home page lists what you can plant now in your climate zone, and what to prepare for next month.

A secret to productive gardening is to plant regularly — plant something every day if possible in suitable climates.”


Leafsnap (iPhone)

“Leafsnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.”


Rain Harvest (iPad, iPhone)

“Have you ever wondered how much rain falls on your roof during a typical rain storm? Use this simple rain harvesting calculator to find out. You will be amazed at how much water can be collected from your roof (or any other surface) during even the shortest of rain storms. Why not collect and store this wonderful natural resource and put it to good use later to water your organic garden?”



Garden Snob (Android)

“For the garden obsessed. Gardening tips, tricks, and ideas on how to keep your garden green and growing.”


Vegetable Gardening Guide (iPad, iPhone)

“For the experienced gardener and novice alike, this guide contains everything you need to grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables. And, unlike other vegetable gardening guides, where you have to plow through chapter after chapter to find the information you need, this guide displays simple, step-by-step instructions, numerous illustrations, bulleted lists, hyper-linked information, and even a glossary of terms.”


iGrowIt (iPad, iPhone)

“Quickly find out what vegetables you can plant right now, at the tap of a button! Designed for USA and UK beginners, access all the essential information you need on how and when to grow your own delicious vegetables, from start to end.”


The Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News (iPad, iPhone)

“The Food Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News is a one-stop gardening app from America’s leading magazine on organic gardening. The app provides expert advice on crops and techniques, plus a resources section to find even more helpful information.”


Greenaid (iPad, iPhone)

“Made from a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds, ‘seedbombs’ are becoming an increasingly popular means combating the many forgotten grey spaces we encounter everyday — from sidewalk cracks to vacant lots and parking medians. They can be thrown anonymously into these derelict urban sites to temporarily reclaim and transform them into places worth looking at and caring for. The Greenaid dispensary simply makes these guerilla gardening efforts more accessible to all by appropriating the existing distribution system of the quarter operated candy machine. Using just the loose coins in your pocket, you can make a small but meaningful contribution to the beautification of your city!”


Herb Garden (iPad, iPhone)

“The Herb Garden is your simple guide for growing, cooking and preserving herbs and spices from the common to the exotic. Herbs of all varieties, from common Basil to rare types of Lavender are profiled with in-depth growing and cutting guidelines and colorful photos of hundreds of herb plants and types. Including all of your favorites like Chamomile, Thyme, Oregano, Dill, Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Watercress, Mint, Lemon Grass, Marjoram, Chervil, Fennel and even Catnip... and many others. Vote on your favorite Herb types and compare notes against other Herb lovers from around the world.”


Via [New York Times]


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Gardening apps for spring
Although some green thumbs may balk at the idea of — gasp! — taking a smartphone into the garden, the gardening app market is growing like mad. The New Yor