Smart gar­den

The best smart tech­nol­ogy to get your gar­den ready for sum­mer.

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - BY CLIFF JOSE PH

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.

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