The onset of spring has many people itching to get outdoors and play in the dirt.
They spend hours planting petunias, roses, and marigolds. They trim their hedges, fertilize their lawns, and spread mulch to keep the weeds away.
There’s just one problem: Instead of a green thumb, you’ve got the touch of death when it comes to gardening.
Technology can’t completely turn you into an expert arborist, but it can increase the odds that your plants will survive and make your yard look at least a little bit better. Here are a few tools that will help.
Putting plants in the ground is easy. It’s the follow-up maintenance that trips up many people. PlantLink is a $65 device that takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation by monitoring the soil and letting you know when it needs water. On your smartphone, simply enter the type of plant PlantLink will look after and it will alert you when your flowers or vegetables are thirsty. The device, which works on both indoor and outdoor plants, has a one-year battery life and stays connected to your phone at a range of up to 300 feet. [Buy PlantLink here]
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
Sometimes, it’s not the plants that you need to remember to water, it’s the entire yard. There is, of course, the option of putting your sprinkler system on a timer, but that can be wasteful and expensive—and could lead to mold and rot if you water too often. Rachio is a $190 smart sprinkler controller that adapts its schedule to the local forecast (meaning it will skip a day if rain is on the way or water less if it has rained heavily recently). The manufacturer claims that the controller can cut outdoor water use by up to 50%. [Buy Rachio here]
ScareCrow Motion Activated Animal Repellent
The elements aren’t the only thing that keep your yard from looking pristine. Animals can cause plenty of problems too. Whether it’s deer in or the neighbor’s dog, four-legged friends can cause irreparable damage to your hard work. You want to be humane with your deterrence, but effective. ScareCrow, which around $50 depending on retailer, first attempts to scare animals away that it detects using heat and motion sensors by playing a burst of sound. If the animals don’t run off, it will hit them with a three-second burst of water that’s harmless, but enough to send them packing. It’s a compassionate but firm way to discourage everything from squirrels to skunks. [Buy ScareCrow here]
AGRI-FAB Push Lawn Sweeper
Few things make a yard look cleaner in the spring than the absence of leaves. We try to get rid of them all each fall, but there are always a few stragglers that seem to stick around and multiply during the winter months. Raking is an option, of course. An alternative is this lawn sweeper (prices range from $125-$150, depending on the retailer), a lightweight device that gathers leaves and lawn clippings. It eliminates the hard work and lets you get the job done quicker. And when you’re finished, it folds up so that it can be easily stored in your garage. [Buy Agri-Fab Lawn Sweeper here]
Just can’t get a plant to stay alive outdoors, no matter what you’ve tried? There’s an indoor option, too. This $238 soil-free system lets you grow everything from flowers to herbs to vegetables indoors year round. All totaled, nine plants can grow in it at the same time. It includes a light to ensure your plants get sufficient nutrients and a control panel that lets you know when to harvest or improve the conditions for your plants. The starter kit that comes with the Aerogarden includes an assortment of herbs. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about pesticides or growth hormones. Additionally, the hydroponic growth system means you won’t have to worry about additional dirt around the home. [Buy Aerogarden here] (Sur La Table is having a special sale and free shipping over $59 at the time of this writing.)
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