As any gardener knows, planning a patch from scratch, or re-designing an existing plot, can be a complex, time-consuming task. However, help is now on hand in the form of Garden Plan Pro, an app developed by Growing Interactive Ltd that will make planning your dream garden just that little bit easier.
Garden Plan Pro offers a paper-free method of designing your little plot of paradise, and contains a repository for plant types, in addition to advice on sowing, growing and more. Find out more after the jump.
On launch, Garden Plan Pro automatically detects your location, with the option to manually search for your address if you’d prefer. Setting your location enables Garden Plan Pro to display the weather forcast for your area, along with configuring frost dates to match the average from your nearest weather station. This can be manually adjusted or switched off if your area doesn’t experience frost.
It is advised that each user creates a free online account to ensure that all data is safely backed up. In addition to data storage, you will also receive an email twice a month with sowing and planting reminders, plus links to various gardening articles.
Garden Plan Pro features an in-depth video tutorial, along with a comprehensive user manual and other useful guides like Growing From Seed, Soil Types and Companion Planting. I highly recommend watching the tutorial in full before commencing as, perhaps in part due to the nature of the app itself, Garden Plan Pro is not the most intuitive of applications.
Creating a Plan
OK, before going any further, you must measure the width and length of your garden. It’s important to take your time with this, and try to be as accurate as possible. Don’t forget to measure paths, and the size and location of any pre-existing beds or stationary objects.
Once you’re done, tap the New Plan icon, which can be found in the top right-hand corner of the screen. A scrap of paper will appear, requiring information such as name, the size of your garden and the year your plan is for. Garden size can be configured in feet or meters by simply selecting your desired unit of measure, and then carefully tapping + and – until you’ve reached the correct width and length.
Designing Your Garden
It’s now time to design your garden. Garden Plan Pro has two modes of operation: Add mode and Selection mode. Tapping the pencil icon on the left-hand side of the screen will open Add mode, allowing you to insert various plants, shapes and objects into your plan. Meanwhile, Selection mode will move or configure previously placed elements, and can be accessed by tapping the marquee icon, which can be found directly above the pencil.
Your garden is designed on a grid, with the width and length running along the top and left-hand side of the screen. Once you are done, each completed plan can be printed, emailed and published to social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Working With Shapes
On the Shapes screen, you will find an assortment of different objects, including a line tool that can be adjusted to create a non-standard shape. Shapes can be used to add a path to your design, or perhaps designate an area as a water feature.
Adding a shape or object is easy, and simply requires pressing your finger on the screen for a moment and then dragging to the desired position on your plan. Shapes can be resized by placing your finger on the corner of the object and dragging.
Let’s Talk Plants
Garden Plan Pro features a database containing an array of different types of plant, ranging from fruits and vegetables, to flowers and green manures, all of which can be inserted into your plan. The database also sports a GrowGuide packed with information about each plant, such as spacing, positioning and sowing advice. I found this extremely useful as it saved me a lot of time Googling or refering to seed packets.
To add a single plant to your plan, tap and hold your finger on the screen, or drag across to create rows. Once the plants are duly on the plan, more information on this can be gleaned from Plants information pane. This includes the number of each type of plant, when to sow, plant and harvest.
The colored background behind each plant displays the minimum space they require to grow, with a different color representing the crop family each plant belongs to. For example, green for the brassica family and lilac for alliums. The different colors will also help with crop rotation, as plants from the same family should be moved to different areas each year.
Garden Plan Pro is a powerful design app which easily supplants paper and pencil when sketching out the outline of your garden. The addition of a plant database, and extra information such as weather forecast is also useful, though perhaps a push notification alert would be a nice touch to warn of impending bad weather or frost.
Though it commands a significant price of $9.99, when you consider the amount of time, money and effort that goes into creating and maintaining a garden, the expense is most certainly worth it.