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3 gardening apps to turn your yard into an oasis

3 gardening apps to turn your yard into an oasis
© Darkop | Dreamstime

So you want to start a garden. But where do you begin?

You may have a green thumb, but you don't know what kinds of plants you can grow or when you plant them. Or maybe you bought a new property and you're not sure how to landscape your land.

For such a tranquil activity, gardening can be very stressful, especially when you're deciding whether to buy one packet of seeds or another. Even seasoned gardeners can struggle with basic questions, especially if they've moved to an unfamiliar climate, where the species and seasons are completely different.

Luckily, technology can help you figure out what to do with your estate. With the right guidance, you'll be harvesting your bounty in no time.

To get you started, these helpful apps will ensure that your gardening experience is a bed of roses.

Plangarden

One of the most popular apps for serious gardeners is Plangarden. This program uses both a 2D map to illustrate what your garden looks like and where all the beds are located.

The drag-and-drop menu makes it easy to populate your garden with all the produce you like. The gardening log tool helps you keep track of everything you plant and raise.

What's nice about Plangarden is how malleable it is: If you've planted something unusual, like South African Fox Glove, and can't find it among the options, you can just type it in. It also doesn't matter how large or small your garden is. Maybe you live in a cramped apartment, and you're maintaining a square-foot planter on your balcony; Plangarden can accommodate that.

The Plangarden designers also take pride in its web-based software, which means you'll never have to update and all of your material is saved online.

The best part: Plangarden offers a 45-day free trial. You can decide whether the app is helping as you sow your seeds. If you want to continue using Plangarden, you can pay $20 for 1 year or $36 for 3 years.

It's available for both Windows and Mac computers. Click here to download for Windows. Click here to download for Mac.

Click here to learn more about Plangarden.

GardenPuzzle

Sometimes, you just want to know what your garden will look like. You're less interested in harvesting a certain number of carrots than, say, growing pretty hedges and flowers.

Using actual photographs of your backyard, using GardenPuzzle is like taking a virtual tour of your future flower garden.

You just drag and drop the beautiful illustrations of rose bushes and cypress trees and they will magically appear in your image. These photorealistic renderings give you a great impression of what your outdoor space will look like when it's filled with vegetal life.

GardenPuzzle works fine on desktops and phones, but it's particularly suited to tablets with high resolution. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android. However you do need to select a plan that costs money to use. For a single user it costs $19 with online access for 6 months.

Click here to download the GardenPuzzle app for iOS. Click here to download the app for Android.

Bonus: If you like GardenPuzzle and are also fond of Better Homes & Gardens, the magazine has created a similar visually-driven app. Click here to learn more about Plan-a-Garden.

NatureGate

Many of us can name everyday flowers and vegetables. A few of us can walk through a local garden and identify the plants we pass.

But only a master gardener has mastered all the species and subspecies of a typical garden, and most of that goes out the window when they visit another part of the world, where different flora thrive, and often go by names in a different language.

Suppose you find a flower and you want to know what it is. Just enter color and number of petals, and NatureGate will help you match the encountered bloom with its scientific classification.

NatureGate not only helps you figure out the taxonomy of a garden, but you can look them up in other languages, including Spanish and Norwegian. NatureGate has a database of several hundred plants, along with thousands of representative photos.

Unlike many apps used for quick identification, not just limited to wildflowers and shrubs. You can also figure out which insects and animals have inhabited your plot of land. You can use the app to identify birds, butterflies, and even fish.

The free app is currently only available for Apple gadgets. There's no word if it will become available for Android.

Click here to download the NatureGate app for iOS.

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