Just as virtual technology has become a common tool for anyone considering repainting or redecorating a home, a growing range of applications can make landscaping easier as well.
But know when to use them, and when it might be easier to pull out an old-fashioned pencil and sheet of grid paper – or call a professional.
“We’ve seen an increase in virtual interior design services over the past couple of years, so it’s only natural that this functionality is found outside the home as well,” said Stephanie Sisco, Really simple home editor of the magazine.
Some of the most popular DIY gardening apps include Garden Designer ($ 9.99, from Artifact Interactive), Design Your New Environment ($ 9.99, from Home Revivals), Garden Plan Pro ($ 9.99, from Growing Interactive) and Perennial Match ($ 4.99, from Harmony Systems, Inc.).
“We’ve seen several hundred thousand downloads,” said Patrick Pozzuto, founder of the iScape app ($ 9.99, from Home Revivals), aimed at professional and home landscapers. Based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Pozzuto worked as an entrepreneur before launching his app.
“Arranging plants using a touchscreen is a lot easier than using your lower back to do it,” he said.
“But while the pros have been using apps for a long time now, home gardeners sometimes run into problems,” he admits. “They don’t necessarily know which plant goes with what, and what areas it will grow in. And some people are not artistic and are in trouble.”
Dave Whitinger, executive director of the Jacksonville, Texas-based National Gardening Association, warns that while some tech-savvy gardeners quickly master landscaping applications, the learning curve is steep and can be impractical for most. amateur gardeners. The association, founded in 1971, contributes to the Gardening for Dummies book series (published by For Dummies) and hosts the garden.org website.
“The reality is that while virtual tools are great for a minority of gardeners, a lot more people find them way too confusing and they are really frustrated,” he said.
Many home gardeners, he said, would be better off using pencil and graph paper, with each square representing 6 inches, or whatever scale is appropriate for the particular garden.
Yet even for hobbyists, he noted, information on some online sites can make the difference between failure and success in gardening and landscaping projects. Garden.org, for example, offers a nationwide database, searchable by zip code, to tell home gardeners what frost dates are in their area, when to plant what vegetables and flowers, and what types. of plants will encourage, for example, certain varieties of butterflies or bees.
“Such knowledge is crucial to the success of a person’s gardening project,” he says. “Lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes all have different dates when they should be planted for best results, and planting dates vary depending on where you live. Just because you see the plants for sale in the nursery doesn’t mean it’s a good time to plant.
And even if you haven’t figured out all the features of gardening apps, they can be a good way to show professional landscapers what you have in mind, Pozzuto said,
Richard Heller of Greener By Design, a New York-area company that uses 3D software to help with both landscaping and customer communication, said the software is making a huge difference.
“Three-dimensional software is not yet widespread and gives us an incredible competitive advantage. It allows people to see what is not planted, so they start to develop the projects they have in mind, ”he said.
“The software is accessible to everyone, but the learning curve is steep. And you need a high-end gaming computer to use it.
Heller says home gardeners might want to check out his company’s website, EZgardendesign.com, which, for a small fee, lets you create a landscaping “design book”. It’s a good place to start, but most home gardeners would still want to work with a professional who is familiar with plants, he said.
And there’s always graph paper and a pencil if the learning curve turns out to be too steep.