The Irish Mail on Sunday


An app for designing your garden? It’s what green fingers are made for...


Having finally run out of excuses not to do the garden, I turned to an app, not a person. My garden is almost indistingu­ishable from a council rubbish tip, bar a few near-dead trees, and one frightenin­gly aggressive fox – who seems to be the garden’s real ‘owner’. It’s a big job – and the problem with real, human gardeners is that they’re terribly demanding and expensive.

Garden designers quote prices for which I’d expect the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, whereas iScape and Garden Plan Pro let me try out my own ideas, in 3D, using pictures of my garden, for just €6.99. My iPad is no good with a shovel, but when it comes to planning, or reminding me when (and where) to plant bulbs, it’s perfect.

Turn to my PC, and for a little more outlay, I can buy something very similar to the design software probably used by the ‘creative type’ who rattled off words like ‘pergola’ and ‘gazebo’ as she pitched for the job (in an effort to overcome my natural Scottish reluctance to part with money).

Then hardware steps in to help. You’d think gar- dening would be the very last hold-out against hi-tech – but smartphone­s and tablets are actually staging a quiet, and very polite, revolution.

From weather apps that warn of frost to sensor spikes that pair with apps and remind you to bring out the watering can or warn against over-acid soil, technology has arrived in the garden. Crochet and origami must be the only non-digital hobbies left.

Even if you actively loathe gardening, I can’t recommend Garden Plan Pro highly enough. It’s designed for idiots (like me), and has improved the yearly survival rate of my seedlings from something around the level of a Soviet labour camp to the rate in an ordinary suburb. From one app, that’s good going.

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