The best smart technology to get your garden ready for summer.
After the winter, your garden is probably feeling a little under the weather, so it’ll take some extra care and attention to restore it to its former glory.
A good starting point for any smart garden is a soil sensor that can measure details such as temperature and moisture, and send notifications to your mobile device to let you know when your plants need attention.
There are a number of soil sensors available in the US. Edyn’s Wi-Fi garden sensor costs around $70, and tracks light, temperature, soil nutrition, humidity, and moisture. It can also suggest plants that match your garden’s climate and conditions. PlantLink costs around $60 and claims to have plant-specific algorithims. Similar products are available online if you (ahem) dig about. The Xiaomi and Flower Care 2 smart soil sensors are both around $30.
While a plant sensor is a great way to dip your foot in the water of smart gardening, the most effective way of managing your garden’s needs from afar is by using a smart sprinkler system. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs. Rachio offers a stand out option with its third generation system — the Rachio 3 Smart Water System. Included in the bundle is a smart sprinkler
controller and wireless flow meter with leak detection, and the Rachio app enables you to control and monitor watering from your iPhone or iPad. It works with most existing sprinkler systems and with Weather Intellgience Plus, the Rachio 3 automatically adjusts for the changing conditions, so you don’t need to constantly monitor what’s going on outside. Rachio is also compatible with most smart platforms, such as SmartThings or Nest, and supports most smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo or Google Assistant (though no word on HomeKit compatibility - sorry HomePod folks), so you can command Rachio to do your bidding with your voice alone.
Prices for the Rachio 3 depend on whether you want the flow meter included — without this it’s $229.99 for the 8–zone version, or you can step up to the 16-zone controller (allowing you to control the watering needs of twice as many areas of your garden, if you so desire) for total lawn domination. In either case, you’ll have to add on $100 to this price to get the wireless flow meter included.
the most effective way of managing your garden from a far is with a smart sprinkler
Rachio isn’t the only company out there that has the smart garden watering market locked down, Orbit specializes in a variety of smart timers, including the B-hyve Sprinkler Timer ($105.95) and the B-hyve Hose Faucet Timer ($69.95), both of which offer auto-adjustment of watering thanks to Smart WeatherSense, along with watering control from your smartphone, plus Alexa voice control. Robo crop As for mowing the lawn, there are smart options that can help here, too — even if they are a bit pricey. A number of companies sell robot mowers that can zoom around the garden and trim the lawn all by themselves, while you put your feet up and supervise with the aid of a nice, cool beverage. These robo mowers have been pretty expensive in the past, generally starting at around $1,000 and going beyond the $2,000 mark for high-end models designed for large gardens or land.
The leading company in this field is Robomow, which recently launched a couple of more affordable models for smaller gardens. The RX12 costs $599 and is “smart” in the sense that it has built-in sensors that enable it to detect
the edge of the lawn and to navigate around obstacles while trimming it.
If you want more control via an iOS app, then you’ll need to step up to $999 for the RC304 model, which can be programmed with a mowing schedule and can split your garden into a series of zones for individual attention. There’s also a remote control feature that lets you “drive” the mower from the comfort of your chair or swing in the yard.
Bosch also makes a range of robotic mowers, but they are a little more expensive, starting at $1,008 for the auto-navigating Indego 350, or $1,154 for the app-controlled 350 Connect model.
If you have a particularly large garden to tend to, then you’re going to need to make a significant investment. Husqvarna offers its Automower 450X robo lawn mower, which has a 1.3 acre capacity, which should be sufficient for most folks with a sizable garden space, allowing you to concentrate on sorting the multitude of weeds that have appeared during the Spring.
Robomow has recently launched a couple of more affordable models of mower.
Sit back and relax while your lawn is mowed by one of Robomow’s mowers.
The Rachio 3 Smart Water System includes a smart sprinkler controller and flow meter.
Rachio enables you to control the different areas of your garden from your iPhone or iPad.