Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:28 pm
A strong drying out is enough, and the long-cherished bloom is gone. On some summer days, the only thing that helps is daily watering. With an automatic watering system, you can save a lot of time, water and money. We tell you what to look out for in your Smart Garden.
Especially in summer, the garden depends on being watered regularly. A persistent lack of water can cause permanent damage to flower beds and lawns. But in addition to work and family, watering, especially in large gardens, can be a serious cut in precious free time.
The role models for automatic irrigation in home gardens were golf courses or landscaped gardens. In the meantime, there are many systems that also provide relief in smaller terraced house gardens. In addition to automated watering substitution during vacations or other absences, automatic watering also makes everyday life easier.
No more hours of watering with the hand shower, instead the plants are supplied with moisture effectively and water-efficiently according to their needs via underground water pipes. Various sprinklers* or drip irrigation systems* can then be connected to the lines and operated and controlled either manually or fully automatically.
- 1 Plan automatic irrigation
- 2 Automatic irrigation – the water connection
- 3 Irrigation computer for the automatic irrigation system
- 4 Automatic watering with moisture sensor
- 5 Automatic irrigation of large areas
- 6 Mini sprinklers for the garden
- 7 Drip irrigation automatic waterers
- 8 Automatic watering by radio control
- 9 Automatic watering – other options
- 10 The most popular systems for automatic watering
- 11 Water less with lifehacks
- 12 Author
Plan automatic irrigation
When planning, attention to detail is useful. This will allow you to ideally position the pipe routes and the sprinklers. While installing an irrigation system requires some effort to plan and lay the pipes, it’s worth it. However, before you start digging enthusiastically, you should plan in detail. This is best done together with an expert from an irrigation company, because rarely do all garden areas need an equal amount of water. Sensors can help here.
The soil condition also plays a role that should be taken into account during planning: sandy soil naturally holds moisture much more poorly than, for example, soil with a high clay content. The different garden areas are therefore better served by different irrigation circuits and watered according to their needs.
Automatic irrigation – the water connection
If the area to be irrigated is of average size, the system can be connected to a normal faucet at the house or in the garden. There are suitable adapters* for the transition between the pipe and the water tap. In case of a large garden, direct connection to the house water pipe is recommended. If the branching point is at the house, consider a stopcock* at the lowest point so that in winter the garden irrigation can be completely disconnected from the house irrigation and drained to protect against frost damage.
Important for the planning of the irrigation is the available water pressure. Therefore, you should use a flow meter* to measure the available water volume (cbm/hr.) in relation to the flow pressure (bar), because these values determine, for example, the possible number of irrigation circuits (stations).
Irrigation computer for the automatic irrigation system
The watering computer* requires a power connection. Either the device is connected directly via a socket or you use a battery-powered system. The controller should be easily accessible in the equipment room of the house or in the equipment shed.
Automatic watering with moisture sensor
Most irrigation systems are equipped with a sensor* that measures soil moisture or humidity. The sensors are directly connected to the computer or app and send it their measurement data. When enough natural precipitation has fallen, the system is switched off.
In addition, there are also so-called evapo-transpiration systems (RP-ET systems). They measure the evaporation rate and light intensity and, together with previously entered factors such as the soil condition and the water requirements of the plants, can adjust the irrigation systems fully automatically to the respective demand.
Automatic irrigation of large areas
Pipes running underground serve as water supply lines. So that they do not interfere with gardening, they are laid in trenches 30-40 centimeters deep. Spray sprinklers* with a range of around 10 meters are suitable for large plantings or lawns. Circular sprinklers* irrigate a radius of up to 360°, and rectangular sprinklers* adjust well to rectangular beds and lawns.
The sprinklers can either be hidden in the ground as recessed sprinklers, which then slide out when in operation, or connected to the mains pipe by means of a garden hose and placed anywhere in the garden.
Mini sprinklers for the garden
Small mini sprinklers cover a radius of up to two meters and are particularly suitable for watering taller perennials and woody plants. In the perennial or rose bed, under shrubs and woody plants, inconspicuous small circular sprinklers* have proven their worth, spraying finely distributed drops at a low height. The flowers remain dry – an advantage over sprinklers, which easily leave ugly water spots on summer flowers and delicate rose blossoms and encourage fungal diseases.
Also interesting: save water in the garden with these tips and tricks.
Drip irrigation automatic waterers
Underground drip irrigation systems* are ideal for targeted water supply in vegetable gardens. Drip irrigation systems deliver water in a finely dosed, economical and effective manner. There are various systems available. Single drippers* are particularly suitable for targeted watering of individual plants, for example in the vegetable garden or for pot culture on the balcony or terrace.
A drip hose*, on the other hand, releases water over a larger area and drop by drop from fine holes. You can run it above ground as well as underground. Drip tubes are especially recommended for watering flower borders and more extensive planting areas with ground covers.
To ensure minimal water delivery, reduce water pressure at the station or connection with a pressure reducer* and install a filter to protect against contamination.
Continue reading here: we tested the MultiControl Duo irrigation system from Gardena together with the Micro-Drip drip irrigation system.
Automatic watering by radio control
Those who are often away from home can also turn the irrigation on and off via smartphone or radio, depending on the weather forecast. Some systems can be conveniently controlled by radio or even from the vacation resort by smartphone or via the Internet. This requires the appropriate hardware and software, as well as a radio receiver on the irrigation computer or solenoid valve. Depending on the system, even other devices such as pond pumps or garden lighting can be linked to it.
Irrigation controllers allow you to have the garden watered automatically. These systems are particularly popular:
Automatic watering – other options
The simplest option is a timer for the water connection* in the garden, which supplies the lawn sprinkler with water at a set time, for example. In the meantime, such timers can also be controlled via app* – for all those who like it classically modern.
For those who want to control the watering of the garden from the smartphone while on the move, there are watering computers* that are also attached to the water connection, but can be controlled from anywhere via an app on the smartphone.
There is also a choice of irrigation controllers that are controlled via Bluetooth* using an app and can thus only be operated if you are within a certain radius around the computer.
Even those who don’t have a garden available, but garden on the balcony or windowsill, can water their plants with smart tools: special sets for vacation watering* will take care of the plants even in your absence.
Many of the smart garden components are controlled via their own app. Depending on the manufacturer, these apps offer additional functions, for example by including weather data and can also warn of frost in the fall.
The most popular systems for automatic watering
Gardena: The idea behind the complete “Gardena smart system” package is to control lawn care and automatic watering from a single source via app. With the “Sensor Control Set”, the soil moisture is measured and forwarded to the irrigation computer. The manufacturer’s range includes the “smart Pressure Pump” as a timer-controlled garden pump or the “smart Irrigation Control” watering system, which allows you to control up to six different watering zones with the Gardena app.
Kärcher: With the SensoTimer ST6 Duo eco!ogic, Kärcher has an irrigation system on the market that uses two sensors to supply the garden with moisture-controlled water as needed. If a corresponding value is fallen short of, the irrigation starts automatically.
Viratec: The Austrian startup “Viratec” competes against the major manufacturers with its “Miyo” system. In this system, too, a sensor measures the temperature, brightness, humidity and precipitation in the soil and forwards the data to an intelligent irrigation system. The big difference here is that the sensors and valves are completely solar-powered. So you can save changing batteries or running cables across the garden. In fact, just a few hours of sunshine a month should be enough to ensure seamless operation. The app completes the system to have insight into sensor values and watering status from anywhere.
GreenIQ: This company from Israel is also dedicated to the topic of sustainability in smart irrigation. To this end, the “Smart Garden Hub” from GreenIQ also works with values from the data cloud, the weather report from the network and is compatible with smart home systems such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Conrad Connect. The system is said to save garden owners up to 50 percent on water use in the garden. The complete irrigation kit includes control unit, sensors, valve box, nozzles and many accessories and is suitable for an area of 175 square meters.
No matter which system or manufacturer you choose, the only important thing is that you don’t mix and match. At least with the programmable elements, compatibility problems can otherwise arise. A watering computer from Gardena does not necessarily have to work with the soil sensor from Kärcher.
Water less with lifehacks
Whether you water your garden the traditional way or with the help of smart devices, you can make sure you water less often by being smart. That way, you can save water even in the height of summer. These life hacks for the garden include, for example:
- Watering after rain: Even if the garden looks well watered after a summer rain, the precipitation is often not enough to penetrate to the roots. However, you can make the rain that has already fallen work for you and save water by watering after the rain.
- Hoe regularly: By hoeing the beds regularly, you destroy capillaries through which water evaporates from the deeper layers of the soil. Not for nothing the popular saying knows: once hoe saves three times watering. In addition, if you regularly hoe the garden, the soil is loosened and thus absorbs water better.
- Water at the right time: When it is very hot outside, water evaporates more quickly and does not reach the roots of the plants. Therefore, it is best to water when it is cool, i.e. very early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Rather infrequent, but right: Instead of watering daily, but little, it is better if you water only every other day, but then properly. In the long run, you will save water and the roots will be better supplied. Tip: Water directly to the roots and sip by sip until the soil is saturated. This way you avoid unnecessary water loss.
- With clever lifehacks and smart watering systems, you can make watering easier and still take good care of your plants.