There was a time when rosy-cheeked gnomes, koi ponds and stone wheelbarrows were the top frills to be found in the garden. How things have changed. Today, green-fingered gadgets are all the rosehip-coloured rage with watering controllers, solar panels, and plant sensors taking over the role of Monty Don and co. Those older, owl-like pastors of the outdoors have been outdone by the might of big data. Or have they?
Tech has laid siege to our landscape, thatâs for sure, but it doesnât want to rule with a thorny fist. The gadgets and gizmos available to stalwarts of the spade and amateur dirt merchants alike are built on a promise of easing the workload, or taking the lush, greenness of the outside world into the warmth of indoors. Itâs augmenting the garden, not taking it over.
Read this: Get started with the smart home
Here, weâve gathered up the very best snaps of vertical gardens, automowers, and smart sprinklers to prove that tech and trowels can live in harmony. Pop on some wellies, itâs about to get mulchy.
High-tech vertical farms are at the epoch of sustainable farming with many seeing them as the answer to an impending food crisis predicted for 2050, when there will be too little munch for too many mouths. For example, vertical farming research facility, GrowWise, grows crops without sunlight or soil, thanks to hydroponics (when the roots are saturated by nutrient-rich H20).
Vertical hydroponic gardening systems, also known as âliving wallsâ or âgreen wallsâ, can be utilised in or out of the home (and not all with the mission of saving the world). Urban growing guru ThePlantCharmer shares epic ideas on how to grow vegetables, fruits and plants for both minimal and major vertical farming projects.
Netatmo Weather Station
In the 21st century, the weathercock is connected. Netatmoâs station is a haven for the amateur meteorologist with temperature, CO2 and humidity sensors plus a (bolt-on) rain and wind gauge. Itâs also as hard as The Rock; it can deal with sub-zero temperatures and can function even when buried under several inches of snow, as this photo attests. Itâs smart too, analysing data and feeding it back in graph-form, catering to all kinds of info-hungry folks with weather alerts direct to your phone so you know if your greenhouse is in for a battering â or if itâs time to break open the piĂ±a coladas.
Husqvarna Automower 450X
The Eden Project in Cornwall knows a thing or two about progression. The biomes showcasing fauna and flora of the tropics form an educational hub â and since this spring theyâve had a robotic gardener. The Husqvarna Automower is a smart lawnmower that patrols the thirty football pitches of this horticultural hotspot.
Husqvarnaâs long lasting battery, zero-emissions and connectivity (it can link up with Amazonâs Alexa) sealed the deal. Itâs also a night owl, with the automower on duty during the midnight hours. If itâs good enough for EdenâŠ
Olloclip Macro Pro Lens
Ever fancied yourself as a wildlife photographer? Maybe you have a soft spot for Georgia OâKeeffe? Well, this clip-on lens is the path to Insta-stardom; the ideal photo accessory for those that want to get the most out of the garden when it comes to the capturing raindrops on petals and ickle beasts sauntering across the lawn. Teaming up with a phoneâs zoom, Olloclip lets you take snaps with up to 100x magnification. Blimey. Say âCheese,â bugs.
Bees, glorious bees. As well as making us the yumtastic honey, beekeeping is a wonderfully chill way to spend a lifetime (donât mention the suit, the suit is all kinds of wrong). As an activity it can be pricey, but for many gardeners blessed with an acre or two of land itâs an ace way to engage with the great British outdoors. Traditionally, beekeeping isnât a particularly techie pastime, the hive and the âsmokerâ (a way to cause the bees to buzz off for a bit), are rudimentary if sound creations.
The BuzzBox beehive monitor is essentially a Fitbit for honeybees, tracking temperature, humidity, and in-hive acoustics (in order to detect the health of the hive), all run off a two-watt solar panel. In conjunction with the Hive Health Monitor app beekeepers receive updates on their colonies and, of course, the queen.
Botanist and design hero James Wong (when heâs not showing us how to grow our own drugs, the scallywag) has a special appetite for nanoponds; miniature indoor water gardens, a cool and quirky take on the typical houseplant. In fact Wong is an advocate of low-tech nanoponds as opposed to those rigged to the hilt up with hydroponics.
In short, he believes waterlilies can grow in vessels the size of a fruit bowl simply by harnessing the Captain Planet-style power of âultra energy-efficient LED grow bulbsâ (a catalyst for photosynthesis) and a âsoil-based aquarium planting mixâ, which cleanses the water. This is the recipe for what Wong calls âliving ornamentsâ. Just donât tell him that others make indoor ponds inside lightbulbs.
G&Ts and croquet on the lawn, anyone? Best make sure the grass is thriving then. Step up smart sprinklers. There are a plethora on the market. Rachio connects to the cloud through Wi-Fi and keeps an eye on weather conditions with a smart schedule for when to dose the darling buds with some well-needed water. Likewise, there's the Droplet sprinkler with a thirty-foot range. Phwoar.