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Plants for Small Gardens App Review + Giveaway

February 27, 2013
Sutro Media Plant Picker App

Sutro Media Plant Picker App List View

Time and again I’ve been disappointed by a market flooded with lots of not-so-hot gardening apps, but recently I was overjoyed as we test-drove a brand-new garden app for review.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens — brainchild of author, our friend, and talented garden designer Susan Morrison is a stand-out. And, it stands out in a very good way.

To celebrate, we’ve got one freebie download code to share with one lucky reader…keep reading to learn how you might get a copy for free… (the free code has been given away; no further entries will qualify.)

To date most of the gardening apps on the market either don’t do much of anything or they require you to do too much to get anything out of them. (Yeah, I’ve got an opinion on this stuff.) And, frankly, even after you do everything they require, they still don’t give much back.ย  And let’s face it: even if an app is free or nearly free, if it is crappy it costs you by sucking resources and space on your devices. And, it eats your time, which is irreplacable. Frankly, I’d rather pay a few bucks for something great. And leave the junk by the wayside.

Susan’s app is neither crap nor is it free.

Priced at $2.99, this gardening app is a bargain, and it is a must-have for any gardener in USDA zones 6 to 9 with a smartphone. As a professional, I’ll be using this app to show clients quick pix of plants that might be ideal for their spaces. Though it is sold as “for small gardens”, most of what I’ve seen will also work just fine in big areas too.

Sutro Media Plant Picker App

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens on iTunes

As a novice or even experienced home gardener, you might find it great for looking up images as well as finding a huge glossary of garden-related terms and more. You can set filters so it will turn up plants good for your area. You can search on terms, and the results of your search actually make sense. You can scroll through lists or just look at pretty plant pictures. You can look up gardening techniques like sheet mulching and more. Heck, if you really want to, you can follow links from most plant information pages to websites where you can buy online. (Personally, I prefer to shop locally, but that isn’t an option for everyone, so this will be a helpful feature to many.)ย  If you like something you find, with one click, you can mark it as an easy-to-find favorite of your own or email the information to yourself or your designer for future reference or discussion. And, there’s even a social component that enables you to begin a discussion on any subject to get more information. Yay for community learning!

Susan gardens in USDA zone 9, so being the smarty pants she is, she reached out to other well-known industry professionals for their input on foolproof plants in the wider zones, which the app covers.ย  Luminaries include Rebecca Sweet, Katie Elzer-Peters, Jenny Peterson and others. (Note: the app indicates that it covers Sunset zones as well as USDA zones; thankfully, it looks like it mostly sticks with the USDA zones, which make much more sense to those outside the western US.)

The only other gardening app on the market that rivals this one, in my experience, is Timber Press’ Dirr’s Hardy Trees & Shrubs App, which is priced at $14.99, and has been optimized only for iphone. While the Dirr App is focused on woody plants in a range of sizes and zones, Susan’s app is focused on all things plant, covering 90+ plants of all kinds focused on zones 6-9. Susan’s app is optimized for iphone, ipad and Android devices. (Note: we have tried it only on iOS devices.)

If you’re interested in learning more about Susan’s fantastic app from Sutro Media — created by herself and many of our co-horts from other regions — here’s where to go:


Google Play

Go ahead, drop $2.99 to get your app right away. Who needs to wait for a chance at a free download when something this great costs less than most morning lattes?!

Now if you really don’t have $2.99 to spend, here’s the scoop about potentially winning the free code Susan & Sutro Media provided…(This app code has been given out; no further entries will qualify.)

In the comments below on this blog, share your favorite small gardening experience. (You’re welcome to comment and share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, but only comments made directly on this blog will be entered to win.) Your comment can be a plant you love. It can be a wildlife experience. It can be a garden you visited. It can be anything about a small garden or a small garden space. Heck, it can be about a cozy nook you found on a giant estate. It can be a totally made up tale about how you traded a cow for some beans and grew a giant beanstalk that you climbed and ended up in a miniature garden; we don’t care. It’s your story.

We’ll choose our favorite comment as the winner, so be sure your tale is a good one! (Hint: we love a good heart-wrenching tale that involves fancy ladies in hats sipping tea. Too, any compost humor is definitely good for some points. Hmmm…maybe fancy ladies sipping compost tea…or maybe not.)

All entries must be made no later than midnight, Sunday March 3, 2013 PST, and you must include an email address where we may contact you (should you win) to provide the download code. Between Monday March 4-Wednesday March 6, 2013 we will announce the winner on this blog, so come back often to check to see if you have won.

Full Disclosure: Susan Morrison & Sutro Media provided Garden Mentorsยฎ with a free download code to try out this product in hopes we might give it our thumbs up, but we didn’t have to promise anything in return. No additional compensation has been provided for this review.


  1. Jim Long says:

    My late mother in law was one of those New England prim and proper herb society ladies, with a real down to earth side, as well. She startled her doctor-husband with her response to his question, “What would you like for your birthday this year, Barbara?”

    He was expecting her to say a diamond necklace, which he had already tentatively picked out. Instead, she asked for a truckload of composted manure for her herb garden.

    So, sure enough, on her birthday, a pick-up truck piled high with old, rotting cow manure arrived in the driveway.

    I remember the relief in her husband’s eyes when Barbara exclaimed with delight, “This is the best birthday gift I’ve ever had! I’ve been wanting this for years!

  2. karen j kennedy says:

    I have a small yard and it is always a challenge to find appropriate plant stock. It’s like trying to outfit a dollhouse with full size furniture. I’m so glad many hybridizers are working on dwarf or smaller versions of many of the shrubs. That allows me to really get some scale in building hardscapes and bones in the garden!

  3. Barbara says:

    When will it be available for the Windows phones? Please don’t leave us out in the cold! I want this amazing resource. Thank you!

  4. Barbara, we’ll try to get information on a Windows phone version for you.

  5. Hi Barbara,
    I would love it to be available for Windows phones, but that is up to the publisher, and I don’t think it’s very likely. It is only fairly recently that Sutro Media apps became available for smart phones on Google Play. I think they’ve determined iTunes is their best venue. On the positive side, maybe this is your excuse to get an iPad!

  6. barbara says:

    Love your review of this app. I have never even considered an app for gardening before but am thinking this could be really useful.
    I have a very large garden but have segmented out several smaller spaces. My most favorite space to sit and contemplate consists of a concrete bench. In this garden space we have buried the ashes of two dogs so far. So of course the bench has a sculpture of a squirrel (which our dogs loved to chase). I am working with a ceramic artist friend to create a totem piece that will pay homage to our lost pets. It is a mostly shady quiet part of the garden perfect for sitting and reflecting on all things wonderful.

  7. Danita says:

    I lived in Austin Texas for many years and the spring in the hill country is covered with fields of wildflowers. Bluebonnets are the state flower and very popular, but can be difficult to start. One year I had a good patch and my girlfriend had just moved into a new home in the country with a large backyard. When my flowers dried out we took the plants to her house and sat outside chatting and popping open the seed pods and spreading the seeds. The next spring only two flowers appeared, but that was 15 years ago and her back is now filled with gorgeous blooms. It reminds me gardening often requires patience and is always fun to share.

  8. Thanks everyone for visiting the Garden Help blog on Gardenmentors.com. And, thanks to each of you who shared your story about gardening or asked a question about the Foolproof Plant Picker for Small Gardens App by Susan Morrison.

    We loved each of your personal stories. Karen Kennedy’s comment: “I have a small yard and it is always a challenge to find appropriate plant stock. Itโ€™s like trying to outfit a dollhouse with full size furniture.” really resonates with the small gardens theme of this app, so she’s getting the free code to help her find those diminutive plants for her dollhouse-sized spaces.

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