A new garden design tool being developed at NCSU will be a valuable resource for beekeepers, gardeners and wildlife advocates. With students at NC State, Assistant Professor of Applied Ecology Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt is developing an online tool for designing and visualizing pollinator gardens.
Dr. Youngsteadt’s research and outreach deal with the ecology and health of pollinators in urban environments. She says, “I have noticed that a barrier for homeowners who want to create pollinator habitat is their discomfort with the garden design process, particularly when faced with lists of pollinator-friendly plants that may not be traditional ornamentals.”
To overcome this barrier, Youngsteadt is working with NCSU’s computer science students to develop an online garden-design tool, driven by a database of recommended pollinator plants for North Carolina. The app will allow users to design a garden, see how it would look, check for recommended design features, and make adjustments prior to real-world installation.
Beyond its pollinator-friendly plant palette and the ability to show the garden in side view AND layout view, the application will also generate reminders if a planned garden doesn’t meet recommendations such as having variety in flower colors and shapes in each season.
This fall, the software project made the cut for development in the Senior Design Center capstone course at NC State. Youngsteadt says,the basic application will be free. Users will need to create an account. “To support maintenance costs, we might add premium features in the future, but the core functionality will be available to everyone.”
To find out more about the design app, visit Dr. Youngsteadt’s website, http://youngsteadtlab.org/index.php/extension/pollinator-garden-planner/. To help with future usability testing of her garden design application or to invite her to talk with your chapter about her urban pollinator research, email Youngsteadt at firstname.lastname@example.org.