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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.

Gardening Apps


With the robin comes spring. This is the time of year when a gardener unpacks their summer work clothes, gets the tools ready, and reaches for their iPad. Hold on, iPad? Very often we don't see technology as advanced as tablets and smart phones in the garden, but there are tools out there in the digital world that can help make our gardens better. Applications, or as we've come to know them – apps, are programs we can download onto our mobile devices. Apps have been developed to help our daily lives in all manner of ways, and gardening is no exception.

The thing with apps is that there are so many of them it's hard to choose what's worth your time and money. With gardening apps, I've learned you have to pull a lot of weeds to find the app you want to keep. Recently, I compiled a list of gardening apps and downloaded each one in an attempt to evaluate and find my favorites. The evaluation is ongoing as more gardening apps are created every day, but I have arrived at my top three thus far:

Dirr's Tree and Shrub Finder – The ultimate guide to woody plant species is now available as an app. This app is a great tool whether you are searching for information on a specific plant or need to select a shrub or tree for a specific location. Cost: $14.99

Leafsnap – This is simply a fun app. Using photo recognition software, Leafsnap allows the user to snap a picture of an unknown tree leaf, and will then process the image to identify the tree. This app was developed by Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian. Leafsnap has some of the best photos out there and even includes games to help the user learn to ID trees. Cost: FREE!

The Audubon Society Guides to Wildflowers and Trees – While the cost is somewhat high for an app, the Audubon Society Guides are choked full of information. Way too much for me to list here. Cost: $19.99 for the combo pack (includes birds and mammals)

Coming up next month I unveil the final rankings of over 20 gardening apps.

If you know of a great app that you believe deserves consideration, feel free to email me your suggestions. cenroth@illinois.edu



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