Rachio smart gardening products

Contrary to popular opinion, technology and nature are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, technology can really help you cultivate the perfect begonia or a prize-winning turnip. The “Internet of Things” (IoT), the driving force behind smart home products and smart garden products, connects everyday objects such as lights and thermostats to the internet — and now it’s going outdoors.

IoT is bringing soil sensors, water monitors and smart irrigation systems to your backyard to help take the guesswork out of gardening. And yes, there’s even a robot lawnmower. Read on for a roundup of some of the smartest smart garden products to help you in your quest for horticultural nirvana.

5 Truly Smart Garden Products

1. Smart Irrigation

Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller costs $199 to $249, depending on how many zones you need to control.

Water is the key to a successful garden. Whether you’re growing grass and flowers, veggies and fruit or all of the above, you need water — but not too much and not too little, and you certainly don’t want to waste it.

In-ground irrigation systems such as sprinklers help you control the volume of water you use, but their automatic timers can mean they spray while it’s raining, resulting in water-logged plants and a wasted natural resource. Rainwater is generally more beneficial for plants than tap water anyway, so wouldn’t it be nice if your sprinklers knew it was going to rain and therefore didn’t turn on, saving you water and money and helping your plants grow better? With a smart irrigation controller like the Rachio, that’s exactly what they do.

Rachio uses internet connectivity and built-in “smarts” to determine the best time to water your garden. It will automatically create a watering schedule for your yard tailored to your soil type and plants, which reduces your water usage and maintain your plants in optimal condition.

Additionally, Rachio keeps an eye on the weather so you don’t have to, adjusting the schedule if it rains or has been super dry. You can also remotely control your sprinklers from your smartphone to create or stop a cycle or adjust the schedule. Rachio’s EPA Water Sense Certification also means you may be able to offset its upfront cost with a rebate from your water company, as it claims to be able to cut your water use by as much as 50 percent.

2. Smart Garden Hub

GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub
The GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub costs $199 and controls up to six irrigation zones. Photo courtesy of GreenIQ

Water may be the key to growing your garden, but it’s not the only important element. The Green IQ, while primarily an irrigation controller like Rachio, also promises to act as a smart hub for your yard. It integrates with other devices, such as soil moisture sensors, personal weather stations, smart garden lights and even your smart smoke alarms, and combines all the data it receives from them with intelligence it gets from the GreenIQ cloud.

The result is a hub that can perfectly manage your garden’s needs, with just a little help from you.

GreenIQ connects via Wi-Fi or 3G (handy if your router doesn’t reach all the way into your yard) and can be remotely controlled via GreenIQ’s app. It also works with If This Then That to activate location-based triggers (IF I arrive home, THEN turn off my sprinklers), sync up with your calendar (IF I have a barbeque scheduled for Saturday, THEN don’t turn on the sprinklers) and even keep a Google spreadsheet of your water usage.

3. Smart Sensors

The Plantlink
The Plantlink sensor costs $79 for a base station and one link. Additional links are $35 each.

See inside your soil with smart sensors such as Edyn, Parrot Flower Power and Plantlink. Each of these connected devices plugs into your soil to provide you with data such as soil moisture, fertilizer levels, ambient temperature and light intensity. That data can be analyzed by the device’s app or transmitted to a central hub such as Green IQ or Scotts Miracle Gro’s “Gro” app, which integrates your smart garden devices and provides a central way to access and aggregate all the data the sensors provide.

On their own, each sensor will send you alerts via their app when your plants need water or fertilizer or are having light or temperature issues, perfect for troubleshooting that one plant you just can’t seem to keep alive.

4. Smart Water Valve

Edyn Water Valve
The Edyn Water Valve ($69) is a smart irrigation device that can pair with Edyn’s smart sensor.

The Edyn Water Valve is a solar-powered valve that connects to your garden hose and can water your garden on demand. That demand can either come from you via the app or through its smart schedule, which Edyn determines using built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The Edyn valve uses the local weather and data from the Edyn Garden sensor (if you have one) to determine the moisture levels of your soil. It’s a mini version of a smart irrigation controller, ideal for a particular area that your sprinklers aren’t reaching, or for those who don’t have in-ground sprinklers.

5. Robot Lawnmower

Robot lawnmower
A robot lawnmower can completely take over this common garden chore.

Falling on the “lazy” end of the smart garden scale, a robot lawnmower promises to do what the Roomba did for vacuum cleaners: remove the human element. One example is Robomo’s Lawnbott. This battery-powered lawnmower will trim lawns of up to 25,000 sq. ft. all by itself. Just set its schedule and let it go. It knows where to mow based on a wire you hook up along the edges of your lawn and around any landscaping or obstacles. It also has built-in GPS tracking and a rain sensor that sends the Lawnbott to its home base as soon as it starts to rain.

One of the big advantages of robotic lawnmowers such as Lawnbott is that they run on electricity, not gas.

Not only is that better for the environment, but it means they are much quieter, so you can schedule your lawnmower to run at night without waking the neighbors.

The biggest downside is the price tag, which starts around $1,200 and goes up from there.

Manage Your Garden Better

All of this smart technology will help you understand your garden better so you can manage it more thoughtfully. It will save you time, frustration and money, and conserve one of the planet’s most precious natural resources: water. To find out more info on the smart home gardening products that Jennifer talks about in this article, visit The Home Depot.

Feature image credit: Rachio 

By Jennifer Tuohy

Jennifer Tuohy is an award-winning journalist, editor and blogger based in Charleston, S.C. Jennifer frequently writes about eco-friendly and sustainable home improvement solutions.