Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Connected Garden Update: What’s New For Data-Savvy Green Thumbs?

Benjamin Hunting
May 15, 2019

3 minute read

The gardening industry continues to grow, thanks in part to an increased interest from Millennials, combined with the continued strong interest from Baby Boomers when it comes to horticulture, according to MarketResearch.com. It’s no surprise, then, that there is no shortage of start-ups and established tech players interested in connecting the garden to the wider world of the internet.

How this happens is as varied as the flowers and vegetables each individual enjoys planting best. We’ve covered some of the most intriguing Internet of Things gardening links in the past, but with a fresh crop of green tech out there, it’s time to revisit how going digital can help your garden grow.

Big gardens, big solutions

Smart gardens have seen a boost in recent months thanks to the proliferation of smart sprinkler systems. We mentioned irrigation devices the last time we visited garden tech, but sprinklers have only continued to get more feature-rich and easy to use.

In particular, this type of equipment is especially appealing for those who have larger gardens and the chore of watering isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. This is where systems like the Orbit B-Hyve step in to provide a comprehensive solution that takes into account the not just real-time measurements of sun and shade, but also links to weather forecasts so that each area of your garden receives the correct amount of moisture. It’s controllable on-site as well as via mobile and desktop apps, meaning you can check in and make alterations from anywhere you have a data connection.

A number of smart sprinklers are also programmable to keep in mind local bylaws about water use, including restricting flow when necessary and monitoring consumption so that you don’t end up with a hefty water bill at the end of the month.

“Look at the aisle of Home Depot or Lowe’s. It’s just dominated by internet-connected controllers. It’s literally becoming the standard,” Chris Klein, CEO of sprinkler-maker Rachio, told CNET.

In your pocket

Another intriguing development in plant care has to do with the proliferation of apps aimed at connecting individuals to expert advice — whether powered by artificial intelligence or experienced human beings.

Garden Answers is an app that lets you take a snapshot of any plant and get an instant answer as to what you’re looking at, which is useful when spotting a beautiful flower or shrub and then wondering if it would fit in your own green space. Not only that, it boasts the ability to put a name to rot, disease, or pest problems you might spot in your garden, too.

SmartPlant is a more advice-driven app that connects users to actual people who can answer in-depth questions about specific plant needs. It’s perfect for digging deeper into the kinds of challenges faced by both novice and long-time gardeners alike.

Get out there and get gardening

With so many connected tools available, there’s really no excuse not to start that home garden you’ve been curious about, or participate in a community effort where you can get your hands dirty for the first time in a supportive and welcoming environment. Whether you need to automate your existing setup or branch out into new avenues, there’s a tech solution waiting to help push things forward.

Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting has covered science, medicine, and technology for a wide range of publications, and has also been published in the Journal of Medical Economics. He coded his first computer program at the age of 8 on a Commodore VIC-20 and still has the audio cassette he saved it on hanging around somewhere in his office.
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