No matter how small your lawn or garden, you’ll have put a lot of effort into setting it up just right. But unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop there.
Water is something your plants need 24-7 to thrive. And waking up to hose everything down at 5 am can make even the most dedicated gardener grumpy.
Solution? Smart sprinkler controller.
This one addition to your sprinkling system can save you a lot of time, effort, and hassle. You’ll be giving your garden or lawn exactly as much water as it needs, exactly when it needs it.
If you’re not quite sure what to look for, don’t worry. We’ll go over the various types of smart sprinkler controllers, and what each has to offer.
Meanwhile, here’s a roundup of some of the best smart sprinkler controllers and what they offer.
- 1 Our Top 3 Smart Sprinkler Controllers
- 2 Why a Smart Sprinkler Controller?
- 3 Features to Look Out For
- 4 Alternatives to a Smart Sprinkler Controller
- 5 Conclusion
Our Top 3 Smart Sprinkler Controllers
Let’s take a look at some of the best smart sprinkler controllers and the features that make them stand out.
1. Orbit 57946 B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor 12-Station – Best Value For Money
Easy to install and use, the Orbit 57946 is a durable smart sprinkler controller from a company with over 40 years of experience. With multiple ways to track the weather and advanced multiple program options that can handle different areas of your yard, this device has it all.
Despite the huge capabilities, the user interface is simple and intuitive, and you have a choice between designing your own programs or letting the app do it for you.
You can control everything right from your smartphone, no matter where you are. And to sweeten an already good deal, this smart sprinkler controller comes with various features to save on water usage.
- Android and iOs compatible
- Smart watering tech uses features like soil type, slope, and many more
- Set up your own programs, or let the app do it for you
- EPA-certified to save water
- Easy to use
- Can be a bit hard to install, may require a call to tech support to push an update through
2. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, 8 Zone – Best User Interface
This smart sprinkler controller is one of the most intuitive and easy to install options on the market today. Whether you’re trying to replace an old controller or are starting from scratch, you can get the initial setup done in under an hour.
Rachio is one of the highest-rated sprinkler controller brands, and the Rachio 3 doesn’t disappoint. You can control up to 8 different watering zones straight from your smartphone. The app factors in weather tracking, and you can add your own rain and soil sensors too.
There is a multitude of options and settings, so you can come up with any number of watering programs. But unlike many other sprinkler controllers, it’s very intuitive to use, even if you’re not a software geek.
- Android and iOs compatible
- Weather tracking included, lets you connect your own rain and soil sensors too
- Extremely easy to set up and use
- Lets you set up multiple programs
- Customer service can be slow to resolve issues
3. Blossom 0080-AWICD 7-Zone WiFi Smart Water Controller – Best Budget Option
If you’re looking for a smart sprinkler controller that still provides good basic capabilities on a smaller budget, this could be a good option.
The Blossom 0080-AWICD is suitable only for indoor installation and won’t handle the rigors of the outdoors. It uses up-to-the-minute satellite data to track weather and will help make sure you don’t water your lawn too much because it has rained.
It is capable of handling 7 zones out of the box, with an option to support an eighth. You can program all 7 zones together, or each one separately. You’ll need a Blossom account and their app running on your device to get this done.
The biggest downside with this smart sprinkler controller is that the weather data is only available for Continental US, and it will not work if your Internet or the Blossom website goes down.
- Uses satellite-based weather tracking
- Easy and quick to install
- Software is easy to use
- Limited programming features compared to our first two picks
- Weather data works only within the Continental US
- Won’t work if your Internet is disconnected
Why a Smart Sprinkler Controller?
A good smart sprinkler controller will set you back over 100 bucks, but it’s a solid, worthwhile investment. Unless, of course, you have nothing to do all day but run up and down watering your garden as the weather dictates.
Setting up your garden or lawn requires a lot of input. From testing your soil and adding the right kind of fertilizer to preparing it for planting and seeding it, that’s a lot of work.
But you don’t have to do all of that every single day. Unlike watering.
And it would be a big shame to have your plants dry up or drown on you after having worked so hard, just because you aren’t able to water them as and when needed.
Set up an automatic watering schedule
The best part with smart sprinkler controllers is that they let you take full advantage of your sprinkler setup.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your lawn or garden is, it will still need regular watering to keep it healthy. And during the hot summer months, the most sensible times to do your watering are often the ones you’re least prepared to work with.
Like 5 am when you’re really enjoying your sleep, or 8 pm when you want to be hanging out with friends and family.
Even the most basic smart sprinkler controller will let you set up an automated watering schedule. You just tell it what time it will turn the water on and for how long, and it will do the rest.
Avoid over- or underwatering
Setting up an automated watering schedule is already a huge step forward, and even a basic hose timer can do that, but you’ll quickly realize you want more.
An automated schedule will turn itself on and off exactly when and how you tell it to, but it won’t worry about the condition of your soil.
It will water at the preset times, even if it has just rained and your soil is already wet enough. And it will sprinkle for the preset duration, say one hour, even if your soil is so dry that it would have needed at least two.
A smart sprinkler controller, especially the more comprehensive ones, will keep track of the weather forecast to adjust your watering schedule to fit. Some will also test your soil moisture to determine when to turn the sprinklers on and for how long. And all this is done independently, without you having to lift a finger.
Save on water costs
Because of the advanced features smart sprinkler controllers boast, your garden will be getting watered only when it needs to be. And it will only get as much water as it needs to.
So much as the device itself costs you some money, this initial investment quickly pays itself off in saved water expenses. This is especially true if you have a larger lawn or garden area.
A sprinkler system is already convenient in and of itself. You don’t have to run around with a watering can or hosepipe to take care of each and every corner of your yard.
But you still need to manually turn the system on and off every single time, and you can’t be at home all day either, to see that your plants get water when they need it.
A smart sprinkler controller leaves you free to go about your business without having to worry about watering your plants. It will turn the tap on and off as and when required, whether you’re at home or not.
Features to Look Out For
Not all smart sprinkler controllers were created equal. Some are much more basic, offering minimal capabilities, while others pull all the stops out.
So apart from obvious considerations like quality and price, ask yourself exactly what you’d like to be able to do with your smart controller.
- Weather Tracking means your device includes a sensor that can tell it if it has just rained, or is about to rain. It may also be able to connect to weather forecast info through your smartphone and be able to read various sensors in your sprinkler setup.
- Multiple Program Setup: this is a great option to have if you have several areas in your garden that need different watering schedules. This lets you set different watering frequencies for different types of plants.
- Permanent Memory: this is a very useful feature in a situation where your controller’s battery goes dead or there are hiccups in the electric supply. Permanent memory makes sure that you don’t ever have to redo your entire setup again.
- WiFi Capability lets you connect the entire sprinkler setup using your phone, even when you’re away. All you need is to install the app for your sprinkler and be connected to the Internet. You’ll be able to make changes in your watering programs even from a thousand miles away.
Alternatives to a Smart Sprinkler Controller
If you’re thinking that a smart sprinkler controller is a bit much for you, there are a couple of alternatives to consider. They may (or may not!) work for you, depending on what you want.
A hose timer is a simple, battery-operated device that is attached straight to the spigot. It’s up to you to manually program whatever watering schedule you like into it.
It’s much cheaper than a smart sprinkler controller but will still provide an automated watering schedule. If you’re really on a budget, this could work for you.
But at the same time, it doesn’t offer any of the control. It doesn’t know or care that your lawn has puddles because it has just rained. If it was set to water at that time, it still will. It also won’t know to extend the watering time because it’s extra hot that day.
A standard, older model sprinkler controller will do much of what its smart, modern counterpart can do. The difference is you won’t have the option to control it from your phone, and chances are it won’t read weather forecasts either.
With these older setups, everything has to be done manually using buttons and a LED display inside the control box. They’re not that much cheaper than the modern smart versions, so a modern smart controller is overall better value for money.
A smart sprinkler controller may be a bit of an initial investment, but it will save you a lot of time, hassle, and money at the end of the day.
Even if your lawn or garden patch is really small, you simply can’t be around every single time it needs to be watered.
The best smart sprinkler controllers not only automate the whole watering process, they even let you set different schedules for different parts of your garden.
And the real reason they’re ‘smart’ is that they can use weather forecasts and soil moisture sensors to optimize the watering down to a tee, cutting down on your water expenses.
A smart sprinkler controller lets you squeeze the most out of your sprinkler system. No over- or underwatering, and no wastage of water. All this while you go about your daily business, peaceful in the knowledge that your precious plants are okay.