While we focus mainly on the inside of smart homes, our IoT Podcast Hotline got a call this week about the outside. Jeff left us a message explaining that his parents want to start a garden and he’s looking for a smart product that tells them when to water their plants. It sounds like Jeff’s parents need a soil moisture monitor or a full-blown irrigation system.
There are several options available to meet this need, but they’re not exactly inexpensive.
An irrigation system will actually water plants for you, which is very convenient. Blossom makes one of these and it starts at $75 for the system. It uses Wi-Fi for connectivity, so you don’t need a hub, and it programmatically waters the soil based on weather data for your area. The downside is that Blossom is really meant to replace an existing irrigation controller. Rachio makes a similar product that costs $149 or $229, depending on which model you get.
If you don’t have or want an irrigation system, a soil moisture sensor may be the way to go, although it won’t save you money. Rain-Bird makes the SMRT-Y moisture sensor that you simply place into your garden soil. It costs around $145 and can tie into an irrigation system, or you can use it to get real-time moisture readings from the garden and then manually water your plants. The Toro Precision Soil Sensor is similar and roughly the same price, depending on the retailer.
It’s actually not too difficult to make your own soil moisture sensor and the parts are less expensive than the above options. So if you’re feeling adventurous, you could follow these instructions using an Arduino Uno board and some wires. This project is really meant for indoor plant soil but does offer an option for outdoor use as well.
To hear Jeff’s question in full, as well as our discussion, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: