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A guide to the smart garden

Last Updated Jan 5, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider


It seems like smart technology is available for just about any purpose. We are often dazzled by the latest home technologies, but overlook how much "smarter" you can make your garden.

We take a look at two ways to make your garden smarter. We'll start with smart garden technologies and move on to smarter garden planning.

  1. A Smart Sprinkler System
  2. Smart Drip Irrigation Systems
  3. Smart Soil Condition Sensors
  4. The Robotic Lawnmower
  5. Smart Gardening with Greywater
  6. Rainwater Tanks
  7. Smart Landscapers
  8. Smart Garden Maintenance
  9. A Sustainable Garden is a Smart Garden

A Smart Sprinkler System

How long should you sprinkle your lawn? In most cases, it's a guessing game and it's easy to over or under-sprinkle your lawn. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler takes the guesswork out of sprinkling. Yes, you can use a smartphone app to control it, but that's not all it does. It actually has a central command unit that watches the weather via a WiFi connection and can sprinkle different parts of your garden at different rates. Not only will you stop wasting water (or water less than you should), you'll know you've watered your lawn and garden just enough every time.

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Smart Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip irrigation is arguably the best way to water your garden. Some drip irrigation systems are above ground, while others are buried. Either way, less water is wasted. The question is: When should you water? Moisture sensors are available that answer the question for you. Some are stand-alone sensors while others will automatically turn on your drip irrigation system when the soil becomes dry and turn it off when it reaches the right moisture level.

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Smart Soil Condition Sensors

When is it time to fertilise your garden? While periodic fertilising is important, you may or may not need to fertilise your plants according to a rigid schedule. Smart soil condition sensors tell you when it's time to fertilise. You can buy them separately and connect them to a WiFi enabled hub like Miracle Gro's "Gro" app. Not only do the sensors tell you about your soil, they also measure light intensity and the ambient temperature. These are all good things to know, since some plants like more light and higher temperatures than other plants.

The Robotic Lawnmower

We've all heard of robotic vacuum cleaners and we recently reported on a new robotic chef. Well, if you don't like mowing your lawn, you don't have to. Robotic lawnmowers are here. Husqvarna has created an automower that can do your lawn mowing for you. The Automower will work in almost any weather conditions, including rain. It follows a random pattern and stops at the edges of your lawn thanks to a boundary wire that comes with the unit. When its batteries get low, it automatically returns to its recharging station.

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The Automower is designed to cut your lawn more often than you would. By cutting the lawn more often, the cuttings can be left on the ground to provide mulch and nutrients for the soil. This helps keep your lawn healthier.

Husqvarna isn't the only company that makes a robotic lawn mower. While some aren't available in Australia yet, they should be on the market soon. The robotic age is here today, both in the home and in the garden.

Smart Gardening with Greywater

We waste a lot of water that could be put to good use in the garden. One way to put that wasted water to use is to install a greywater tank. You might think that water you've used in your bath or washing machine would kill your garden, but new greywater tanks are designed to filter out impurities. Both UV radiation and biological systems ensure the water is free of impurities that could damage your garden.

Rainwater Tanks

If you imagine a rainwater tank to be a big, ugly tank, you haven't seen the latest rainwater tank designs. Some can be buried in the garden. Others can be tucked away under the house. Still others sit neatly next to your house or fence and don't spoil the look of your home or garden in any way.

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Why would you want to install a rainwater tank? Go outside next time it rains and watch where the rainwater that falls off your roof goes. It's wasted water that could be stored and used on your garden when it's not raining.

Smart Landscapers

Most of us are amateur gardeners. That's why the smart thing to do is to hire a professional landscaper when you design your garden. Professionals know the best plants for any location. They can also help you with:

  • Placing plants in the right locations for better growing conditions
  • Preparing your soil
  • Water conservation
  • Irrigation systems
  • Hardscaping (such as retaining walls, gazebos, pavers, etc.)

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A good landscaper can create a beautiful and easy to maintain garden for you. Try landscaping on your own and you may regret it because you don't have their level of experience. Your garden will suffer and you may end up spending more than the cost of a landscaper when you have to replace dying or unhealthy plants.

Smart Garden Maintenance

Yes, there are a lot of smart technologies out there, but your individual plants still need attention. A garden maintenance service can do many things the smartest of smart technologies still can't do. As yet, we don't have robots that can:

  • Prune bushes and trees
  • Spread fertiliser and mulch
  • Tidy up your garden
  • Weed the garden

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Robotic lawn mowers are available, but they come at a high price tag. Most of us would probably be better off letting a lawn mowing service mow our lawns. At the same time, they can do "smart" things a robot cannot. They can weed, fertilise and aerate the soil to make your lawn healthier and more beautiful. All a robot can do is mow the lawn.

A Sustainable Garden is a Smart Garden

"Sustainability" is on everyone's minds today. What is a sustainable garden? It is a garden that uses as few resources as possible. A smart sprinkler system can help you save water, but you still need water for your lawn and garden. In some parts of Australia, water is a precious commodity. A smarter way to create a garden is to plan a garden that looks beautiful, but requires less water.

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One way to do it is to take a cue from Zen rock gardens and install pebbles instead of turf. You can still have plants in your garden, but pot plants require less water than larger gardens.

Another way to create a sustainable garden is to grow your own vegetables. When combined with a drip irrigation system, your veggie garden will require less water. You can even install a smart soil condition monitor to make sure your soil has all the nutrients your garden needs.

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Rather than purchase fertiliser, start your own compost heap and worm farm. They're easier to create and maintain than you might believe. A compost heap will give your soil all the nutrients your garden needs and worms will aerate the soil. Their droppings are good for your soil, too.

Install native plants that grow naturally in your area. They will be easier to maintain than exotic plants and won't require extra watering. Succulents require little water and can be a beautiful addition to your garden. While many succulents do not produce flowers, you can create a colourful garden by choosing a variety of colours and shapes.

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A combination of smart technology and smart garden planning will give you a beautiful, low maintenance garden. You will also have a more sustainable garden with fewer wasted resources. For a truly smart garden, make use of all available resources. Smart technology, smart landscapers and smart garden maintenance experts equal a smart garden.

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