I will readily admit that I'm a little old school when it comes to planning my garden layout. I find it enjoyable (and kind of therapeutic) to start with a blank piece of paper to sketch, color, and make notes until I find the right plan for a new garden season. But that's not to say that there aren't some really great online tools available to create a garden plan and some really great advantages to using them (like keeping a better garden record, something I really need to spend more time on), so I've spent some time playing around with a garden layout in four popular online garden planners as a companion to my Garden Planning 101 series. In no particular order, here are the garden plans I created using each tool and some notes on the key features:
This garden planner offers a lot of customization and a ton of specific plant information. It has the largest selection of plant icons and specific varieties of all the planners featured in this post. Additionally, this planner includes:
- Easy to use design function allows you to add plants individually, in rows, or broad areas.
- Info tabs on each vegetable plant offer detailed information, including: plant family, feeding requirements, companion planting, spacing and planting instructions, harvesting information, and troubleshooting notes.
- Vegetable icon backgrounds are color-coded by plant family, for a quick visual reference for companion planting and crop rotation.
- Automatically generates a customized seed list where you can enter growing notes. The program also generates a customized planting schedule and planting reminders based on your location.
Cost: 30 day free trial; $25 for 1 year subscription or $40 for 2 year subscription; $9.99 for mobile app
- Connected to most major seed catalogs, allowing you to read variety descriptions and order seeds from your plant list.
If you're feeling unsure about where to start with a garden plan, this planner will get you started. It will generate a suggested layout for your selected varieties, warn you if any of your selections are not suitable for your growing location, and allow you to filter plant selections by specific recommendations, such as good varieties for container gardening. Other features include:
- Growing recommendations that take into account not only location, but the number of people in your household as well.
- Most vegetable icons are variety specific, though the layout is strictly tied to the square foot method of garden planning, which slightly limits where you can place plants in the design. Plants can be added individually only.
- Side bar provides helpful information, including planting instructions, space needs and height of fully mature plant, and good and bad companion plants;
- Partnered with several major seed companies, allowing you to read variety descriptions and order seeds.
- Generates weekly and monthly to do lists that automatically enter into your garden journal when you click an item as completed. In addition to entering growing notes, you can upload photos to your garden journal.
Cost: Free basic membership; "Smart Add Ons" from $0.99 to $4.99
This planner offers the least amount of customization as far as plant icons go, but if you are looking to create a detailed plan that includes all elements of your backyard, like a pool, patio, fence, or other landscaping, this tool could be helpful. Additionally:
- Limited selection of plant icons that can be customized in color only; plants must be added individually, but each plant can be designated with a specific variety.
- More strictly a design tool than a planning tool, the notebook feature offers information on plant spacing, but no growing information.
- One of the easier tools to use to create curved or odd shaped growing spaces.
- Ability to export plan as a jpg image.
Cost: 15 day free trial; $24 full version
If you are focused on how much you can expect to harvest from your garden, this planner will be quite helpful with its Vegetable Calculator that will not only estimate how many pounds of produce you can produce per square foot, but a market value of your harvest as well (to help you quantify your garden investment!). Other features include:
- Good selection of vegetable icons, most with a moderate amount of customization available. It is one of the easiest planners to use, plants can be added individually, in rows, or broad areas.
- Plants can also be added to a customized planting chart for recommendations on when and where to start seeds and set out transplants based on your location.
- Daily Log allows for easy entry of growing notes and gardening activities and Harvest Log allows you to enter and track your garden harvest.
- Plans are easily shared by email, generating a code to embed your plans on a blog or webpage, or opt to share and receive comments on your plans through the plangarden website.
- Easily transfer garden layout from year to year to update and re-design without having to recreate the basic garden layout.
Cost: 45 day free trial; $20 for 1 year subscription or $36 for a 3 year subscription.
Each of these online garden planners is free to try, so spend some time playing around to see if you might find a good fit for your needs. Each planner featured offers a tutorial video that will walk you through the basic functions and show you what the planner can do for you before you have to set up an account or start a trial. And if you do find a planner that you like, leave a comment and let me know how it works for you!
Labels: garden plans