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Garden Sketch Tests Well at Beta, Soon to Launch

Garden Sketch Tests Well at Beta, Soon to Launch

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Backyard, Do it Yourself, Front Yard, Garden Design, Garden Sketch, Irrigation | 2 comments

Our design team from Denim and Steel has been working hard to implement the suggestions recommended by our alpha testers and we were pleased to present the results to our discerning panel last week. We had two returning members and two newbies to test the latest version. Overall, the feeling was that Garden Sketch tests well at the beta phase.

Opening up the App, small changes made it easier to get started.  We provided a lot less verbal direction at this phase as the instructional tutorial was now functional. We noted any user friction, seeing where our testers ran into difficulty.

Garden Sketch Live Testers

Garden Sketch Live Testers

Testers seemed excited by the variety of house shapes they could now incorporate but he biggest news was on the design tab. The colours were much brighter and our designers now had the choice of small, medium and big of any of the shapes they wished to use. We also add yielded to the public outcry for the option of a water feature and flower pots.

Garden Sketch Tester Design with Notes

Garden Sketch Tester Design with Notes

It was a lot of fun to watch our testers as the navigated. Their focus and intensity was notable and lasted at least forty-five minutes to an hour. There was complete silence as they worked to perfect their designs.

For me, the biggest surprise was how much I enjoy using the shape drawing tool to give a sense of space. I used it to represent the Pergola in my back yard because it didn’t match the shape of the gazebo.

Our goal at the outset was to develop an iPad App that would help the home gardener to map their yard, noting the existing structures, trees and plants and enabling them to make garden plans. We thought these plans could be useful by getting people looking at their gardens in a new way: is this space working for me? What would I like to change? What would my dream garden look like? How can I achieve it? Garden Sketch creates a low risk opportunity to try out different ideas and share them with your friends and family for input and feedback.

Garden Sketch is being submitted to Apple’s App Store for approval this month and we expect to announce its release in September. Stay tuned!

Here are some of the other designs we’ve been creating:

Garden Sketch Plan

Garden Sketch Plan

 

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Garden Basics: Water

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Do it Yourself, Garden Design, Gardens, Irrigation, Vegetable Gardens |

Weeping Hose Lay Out in Veggie Garden

Weeping Hose Lay Out in Veggie Garden

Gardening can be a little hard on the wallet.  There are always new gadgets and more plants to fill in that space, you know, between the hostas and the astilbes.  That said, I think that hands down the best purchase I made this year was a handy contraption: the Melnor 3280 Digital Aqua Timer Watering System with Four Valves.  I bought mine at Lee Valley Tools, but it is widely available online.  Once I got it set up I realized how it helped address one of those key garden basics: water.  I am now convinced it will pay for itself in water savings and the increased produce from a regularly watered garden.  

The key problem I was trying to solve was that I had two separate garden beds initially  with two lines go out two separate sections of weeping hoses to water my front flowers gardens and my veggie garden running off a splitter attached to a manual timer (up to 120 min) screwed onto the tap which I had to manually activate each day.  Then if I wanted to do anything else, set up the lawn sprinkler or water my pots by hand, I had to start disconnecting hoses.

120 min Manual Timer with Splitter

120 min Manual Timer with Splitter

Now the two weeping hoses are on dedicated valves to water my front flowers gardens and my veggie garden for two hours each at 6 am daily.  Using the digital screen, there are loads of self explanatory programming options.  It was easier because I practiced programming it before attaching it to the tap.

Melnor 3280 Digital Aqua Timer

Melnor 3280 Digital Aqua Timer

The big upside for me was that I  now I have a the fourth valve which I can operate manually for these other jobs like wasting the car or manually watering my pots.

A couple other things to bear in mind when you are ready to install this digital water timer: 1) it takes two AA batteries  and 2) it has a high profile and will require some head room.  I installed mine in the garage and had to shift some shelves to fit it in.

If you search this product the online reviews were quite mixed.  I think this is because there is one critical piece of information that is not clear from the trouble shooting guide for this product.  After the first day I realized that the weeping hose off valve two was not closing and the water just continued to run.  If you just switched it to another valve, valve two would just consider to pour out, no matter what is was programmed for.

The instructions indicated that you should take out the batteries to reset the device, but this did not work.  Eventually I came across a very helpful review on Amazon.com that indicated that you need to do this as many times as it takes to reset the magnets in the valve.  In my case it took five times.  I was so relieved when it finally worked!  Since that the timer has worked beautifully and I highly recommend it.  It has saved me time switching out hoses and ensures that everything gets watered with consistently.

We’ve had a sunny, cool spring here in Vancouver this year with very little rainfall (except that one record breaking day–but that’s another story) so this system has proved critical to my early success.  I’m looking forward to finding something similar for the backyard.  Ian has another programmable timer but I have  become kind of attached to have that one line dedicated to manual watering without have to disconnect hoses and drag them across the yard, so may look for something that allows for more than just two lines.

I may just be in the market for another Melnor 3280 Digital Aqua Timer Watering System.

If only these elaborate systems could also keep the weeds down!

If only these elaborate systems could also keep the weeds down!

 

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