Here at Big Blog Of Gardening we think this sun and shade analyzer app for gardeners with Android devices is a pretty cool idea. Unfortunately, we’re iPhone people and haven’t tested it. If you purchase the app, please leave a review in the comments below and let us know how you like it. What follows is a slightly edited press release from the developer of the Sun And Shade Analyzer app. A link to download the app and a video demo appear at the end of this article.

Hook Mountain Software Development, Inc., has announced a new patent-pending Android app called Sun And Shade Analyzer (SASHA) which will change how gardeners address the sunlight requirements of their plants.   

SASHA quickly predicts how much light will be available at any location at any time. A gardener scans their plant’s surroundings so that the app can determine what trees, foliage, buildings, etc., will cast shade over the plants. Then, in seconds, SASHA computes the hours of direct sunlight that can reach the plant, averaged over a period of time the gardener has chosen.

The Shade or Sunlight Problem for Gardeners

Gardeners know that each plant needs a certain amount of sun each day to thrive. But the amount of sun a plant’s location gets depends on the time of day, the time of year, and the location’s latitude. In the past, an accurate determination of the average daily hours of direct sunlight required:

  1. Hourly observations of the sun each day of the season for which you want an average, or
  2. Daily readings of a meter you place at the location, or
  3. Cumbersome hemispherical gadgets on which you count off fractions of solar paths, or
  4. Apps showing the sun’s path for a given day where you figure out the proportion of the path not hidden by obstructions.
  5. Estimations based on aerial or satellite photos
  6. 3-D modeling of surroundings

The Solution for Determining the Amount of Shade or Sunlight in Your Garden

SASHA makes quick work of the same task. Standing in the spot you want to analyze, you simply scan your surroundings (it helps you by showing on-screen augmented reality indicators), and it immediately computes the average hours of direct sunlight available at that location. That’s it!

How does the SASHA app work? 

  • First, it establishes your location using GPS.
  • Then it establishes the date interval over which you want your average. By default, it uses the last Spring frost date and the first Fall frost date, as determined by your nearest weather station.  You can also set the interval to anything from 2 days to a whole year.
  • Next, SASHA computes all paths across your sky that the sun will take during your date interval, based on your location and NOAA’s algorithms for solar position.
  • SASHA then displays an outline on your screen which shows the highest and lowest limits of the sun’s travel during the interval. As you move your device, the outline will stay in place relative to the background trees, buildings, etc. The objective is to photographically capture all the surroundings that are inside the outline.
  • You touch the screen to capture an image of the outline and background and you continue doing this until the entire outline has been captured. As segments are captured, they are shaded so that you would know what still has to be captured.
  • Within seconds of completing capture, SASHA reports the average hours of direct sunlight at that location, having taken into consideration all the nearby obstructions that can create shade. It does so by overlaying all the possible solar paths onto the background image, and determining when a path crosses a shading obstruction and when it does not.
  • SASHA can be used whether or not trees are covered with foliage (e.g. during winter or early spring), since there is a “simulate foliage” option which provides results nearly as accurate.
  • SASHA is unique! No other app can do all the above.
  • SASHA has no ads and no in-app purchases.  It requires no special lenses or math.

The Response:

SASHA’s developer, and the principal of Hook Mountain Software, George Koulomzin, visited all the landscaper, nursery, and plants-men booths at the 2020 Hartford and Philadelphia Flower Shows and demonstrated SASHA.  The reaction of the vendors who saw the demo was almost always the same: some initial wariness (“oh no, not another pitch”), followed by a moment of thought, then a flashbulb going off: “Wow, that’s really cool!!”, and finally a laugh, because inside the buildings, the answer was always “this place has 0.0 hours of direct sunlight”! Everyone understood that there are no other apps, devices, or techniques that are as affordable, comprehensive, and as easy to use as SASHA. In fact, there was some disbelief that the app was so inexpensive. Talks are ongoing to find ways that we can incorporate the app into their businesses and introduce it to their customers.

Download the SASHA app from the Google Play store.

More info is on the Hook Mountain Software Development website.