Some people think that technology and nature must be at odds with one another, but that simply isn’t the case. As a matter of fact, there is plenty of smart home technology that works outside the walls of your home. With some of this technology, you can make your lawn or garden really thrive.
Smart lawn care encompasses many areas. These include weather monitors, plant sensors, and irrigation systems. All the available options can make it difficult to know where to start. But don’t get overwhelmed. Once you begin to understand what’s available, you can water your lawn, manage your garden, or just collect information about the condition of your yard.
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What are Your Goals?
The smart devices in your yard or garden all have the ability to either automate tasks or sense the surrounding environment. Using smart devices in your yard or garden can help you learn more about what’s going on outside your home.
Smart sprinklers and irrigation systems can automate your watering schedule and gather weather information. Weather monitors gather information and send push notifications when triggered, as do plant sensors. No matter what you need to improve your garden or lawn, a smart device is available to help.
Typically, these smart devices will include a smartphone app and the ability to communicate with the cloud. Of course, you can pick and choose which devices to use based on your needs. Whether you’re a novice, an enthusiast, or a seasoned vet, you’re sure to find a way for these smart devices to help you improve your lawn or garden.
Determining exactly what you need for your yard can be a daunting task if you don’t have much smart home experience. Fortunately, there are some ways to get a better idea of just what you need.
There are many options when dealing with the way your smart devices communicate, so be sure you have a method that fits with your needs. A lot of the devices you’ll encounter will connect via your wifi network, which gives you the option to remotely interact with them.
Wifi enabled devices will get you by in most cases, however, if you have a larger backyard and place a sensor in the far reaches, you might have trouble getting a signal. If you’re having trouble getting your device to connect to wifi, you may want to consider something with a specialized signal.
You have a couple of choices: ZigBee or Z-Wave. These two technologies don’t require as much power as wifi, however, you do need a hub to interpret the signal for your wifi router. For instance, the LeakSmart watering system provides ZigBee support, so it will work further away from your home if necessary.
You may also discover devices that are Bluetooth capable. These devices connect to your smartphone. They use mess less battery than components connected to wifi, but you’re unable to access these remotely. A great spinkler to use if you’re looking for Bluetooth control is the Orbit B-Hyve. This allows you to stay connected even if you’re having trouble with your wifi router.
Most of the outdoor weather monitors and plants sensors use batteries or solar power, so be sure to find out what type of batteries they need before you make your decision. While you’re at it, you may want to check how long the batteries last. The Edyn Garden sensor, for instance, offers a solar panel that recharges when its sunny out.
Other devices use AA or AAA batteries. Devices that use Bluetooth, Zigbee, or Z-Wave have the advantage over wifi devices here, since those technologies typically don’t require as much power to operate. Keep in mind that smart irrigation systems usually just replace your already existing controller, so you can just plug your smart device into the same outlet.
Chances are you’ll need to keep your smart device outdoors, so it’s important that it can withstand tough conditions. The expectation is that all outdoor smart devices can handle any type of weather, but isn’t always true.
For instance, the Rachio Sprinkler system isn’t weatherproof (but you can buy an enclosure for it), but the Blossom Smart system is. Verify just how much weather your device can handle before you make a purchase. If you live in extremely hot or cold climates, be sure it can handle those temperature ranges.
To check and view your smart lawn or gardening devices, be sure it has a companion app for your smartphone. Usually the apps are free, and most devices offer options that work with both iOS and Android. Once you’ve set up your device, the smartphone app is your primary means of interaction.
Mobile apps for plant sensors, for instance, offer advice about how to care for certain plants. Some apps offer a database that gives you the option to explore specific plants and how to properly maintain them without killing them.
With plant sensors you can view data and charts that will help you learn more about how to take care of your plants or garden, while sprinkler systems give you options to set up schedules and create zones so you know your lawn is getting the water it needs.
Just because your lawn and garden devices are outside doesn’t mean they can’t communicate with the devices inside. An integrated smart home means you can automate more chores, which gives you more time to focus on the things that matter.
While complete integration isn’t a reality yet, there are plenty of options available to make things easier on you. For instance, If This Then That (IFTTT) is an online rule maker which triggers actions based on certain conditions. There are also smart hubs and systems that work together throughout your home to unify your smart home devices.
If you plants sensors and weather monitors have the ability to communicate with your sprinklers, you can customize the amount of water your lawn gets. With IFTTT you can set up a push notification that tells your smart lights to flash when it’s time to water the yard.
Smart lawn and garden devices are also beginning to support voice control. For instance, Blossom and Rachio both work with Amazon Echo. this means you can give a command to Alexa and your device will turn on without you needing to open the app. There are also devices that work well with Google Assistant. Be sure to do your research if you prefer one smart assistant over the other.
There are a few different types of devices we’ve touched on that you can use in your yard or garden. If you’re interested in robot lawnmowers, you can check out our guide here. Otherwise, keep reading for more information on each of these device types.
Considered by many as a niche area when discussing outdoor smart devices, weather monitors are useful in certain situations. The monitors are ideal for learning more about the environment around your home. You can also place sensors throughout specific areas of your home if you want. Some people prefer the basement since it’s usually cooler and damper than the rest of the house.
Right now there are only a handful of weather monitors available. The Netatmo weather monitor keeps track of both your outdoor and indoor air qualities, along with additional metrics like outdoor air pressure and temperature.
Boomsky is another quality weather monitor that provides local weather information, along with outdoor temperature, air pressure and air quality. The device also takes pictures of the sky periodically, allowing you to create a cool time-lapse video.
Plant sensors are placed in the soil near the plants in your garden or lawn. These devices gather data about the soil and nearby surroundings and then relay that information to your phone. The thinking behind this type of device is that it will help you to become a better gardener.
One of the benefits of plant sensors is that they can be used indoors as well as outdoors. So if you have a potted plant that’s giving you fits, just pop in a plant sensor and let it provide the data you information you need.
Even the most basic of plant sensors will provide soil moisture and give you advice on how best to care for the plant. Most companion apps will provide push notifications that will remind you when it’s time to water your plants so they don’t die of dehydration.
Some of the more advanced sensors you’ll find will measure additional metrics like humidity, fertilizer levels, and ambient light. Additionally, you can use a single sensor on multiple plants. That means you can use one sensor to keep an eye on your entire garden.
Additionally, many plant sensors will let you define plant-specific criteria so that you can track the information collected. Some sensors will keep all the information it gathers in a database so you can view it. This comes in handy if you want to study and watch the conditions of your garden over a period of time.
By using the data gathered from your garden sensors and the weather reports from your weather monitors, you can automate your smart sprinkler system to only give your lawn a drink when it needs one. That way if it’s going to rain, or just recently rained, you aren’t wasting water.
Most smart sprinkler systems, like the Rain Bird, will replace your existing controller which is great for your pocketbook and will help save you time. You’ll easily reduce the amount of water needed to keep your yard looking great, plus you don’t have to mess with trying to remember when it’s time to water.
The Skydrop smart water sprinkler offers the best of both worlds, as it uses its connection to the internet to identify the forecast for the day and water accordingly. A lot of sprinkler systems also offer zone control. For instance, you can split your yard into sections with the Blossom smart sprinkler system, so that only the areas that need water get it.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a smart home watering system. If you need more information about which system makes sense for your home, take a peek at our picks for the top smart irrigation systems.
Make the Smart Choice
As you can see, there are great options for each device type. Most importantly, you want to make sure you’re choosing a device that has the features you need. For example, don’t pay for a sprinkler system that has more zones than you need. Or make sure the plant sensor you want measures and gathers the information you need.
With the right mixture of devices in your yard, you can create a smart lawn that will practically take care of itself. Make the right choice when it comes to your yard and put the power of a few smart devices to good use. You’ll make your life easier in the process.
Find out here all you need to know about the best smart irrigation systems and smart sprinklers out there!