04.Maintaining your garden
In our test, Punch! is the only software that doesn’t include an encyclopedia component or detailed plant care information. Encyclopedias can be useful for gathering information such as the size of plants, optimal growing conditions and potential disease risks, but they aren’t always relevant to Australian conditions ( see The Australian flavour).
Geoff Hamilton’s, DiComp and Broderbund use the same encyclopedia and have plant care calendars that detail the type of care (such as when to prune, fertilise etc) needed on a month-by-month basis. Geoff Hamilton’s and DiComp are more useful because they allow you to build a care list specifically for the plants used in your design. Broderbund has individual plant care calendars but you can’t create a master list containing only the plants in your garden.
With the exception of DiComp, the care calendars match Northern Hemisphere seasons.
Landscapinging a garden can be a costly affair. In our test, Punch! and Broderbund include tools to help track expenses.
You’ll have to find and enter the cost of the plants and other materials yourself, but once you’ve entered the information, you can easily monitor your spending and estimate the cost of maintaining your garden in the future.
The estimator tool in Punch! can also calculate the quantity of material (such as sand or gravel) needed to fill a section of your yard. The spreadsheet from Punch!can be saved in Excel 97 format and Broderbund’s can be saved in CSV format.
Some garden design software has nifty features that can make planning and maintaining your garden fun. Geoff Hamilton’s and DiComp both include lighting placement to position outdoor lights throughout the yard. You can see how they illuminate the garden using the night view.
For the programs with a limited range of Australian plants (see The Australian flavour), the ability to add your own information for plants not included in the encyclopedia is handy.