Four ways to make your garden smart

Advances in new technology are bringing control and convenience into the backyard. Check out four simple ways to make your garden the smartest it can be.

Bunnings magazine, September 2019

Smart backyard

The Australian garden has become the centre of entertaining and relaxing, as well as a place to get our hands dirty and connect with nature. As we spend more time outdoors, were also looking for ways to make our yards smarter, safer and more efficient. Technology for outdoors needs to be uncomplicated, simple to use and not necessarily dependent on electricity. If you’re in D.I.Y. mode, there are also great additions to the yard you could be installing this weekend.

1. Set up a smart watering system

Remembering to turn on your watering system in the heat of summer could be a matter of life and death for plants. Timers have been around for a long time, but now are digital and can be connected to your smartphone.

Try the Holman ‘BTX1’, which clips onto your tap fitting and allows you to use an app to set water times or turn it on or off at any time, from the office or the couch. From this entry-level product, the price of smart watering systems can rise substantially, but with the added cost comes the ability to manage watering zones, water according to the weather and even integrate with your home voice assistant (you can ask it to water the back garden for 20 minutes!). Do ensure that your watering system is compliant with any water restrictions for your area – check with your local water authority.

smart tap timer irrigation system in greenhouse

Tip: Attach your watering system to a smart irrigation timer.

2. Control your lights, even when you’re inside

As the sun sets into a sultry summer evening, keeping the party going with ambient lighting and good tunes has never been easier – it’s all connected. If your house has light bulbs under cover, it’s relatively simple to upgrade your bulbs. Sengled light bulbs are LED, providing excellent brightness and efficiency, and some models also feature a built-in speaker from their JBL range. Up to eight can work together to really spread that party audio.

As lighting embraces the internet-connected world, Philips have extended their ‘Hue’ range to include outdoor lighting. Their bollard lights are weather resistant, can produce more than 16 million colour variations and integrate with the smart home. Controlling them with your smart device is only the beginning – why not change them to your team colours or activate via a voice assistant?

3. Secure all of your entrances

Keeping your garden secure can now be an easy D.I.Y. job. The wireless Swann security system, for example, uses a battery, connects using wi-fi and, as long as it is within range, your whole house and yard can be monitored from your smartphone, without much effort at all. Even the old padlock on the back gate (with an emergency key under a pot plant!) has had a smart-tech enhancement, with companies like Master Lock ditching the key and adding bluetooth and electronic combinations that allow you to either open the padlock through an app on your phone, or provide the electronic key to a friend when access is required.

Smart lighting can also have a security function, switching on to flood an area with light when motion is detected, or operated remotely via an app to welcome you home. Arlo’s weather-resistant wireless version works on rechargeable batteries and can be linked to the Pro 2 security camera, triggering it to start recording when the light is activated. The Pro 2 can be battery powered or charged with a solar panel, so can be positioned almost anywhere. It has two-way audio so you can speak to anyone who might turn up at your front door, and night vision that switches on automatically when light levels fall.

Tip: Don’t forget your garage door – use smart tech to monitor and control it from anywhere using your smartphone.

4. A lending hand when barbecuing

One of the greatest Aussie traditions is a backyard barbie – and when guests are over, the pressure is on to not burn the steaks! Whether you’d call it cheating or clever cooking, there’s an app for that. The Matador smart meat thermometer is a little device with prongs, which you insert into the meat. The device connects to your smartphone and alerts you, via an app, when the roast or steak is cooked to your liking. Upgrading your barbecue? The Matador ‘Radiant Pro’ kettle has this feature built in, and will also regulate the temperature of the barbecue itself, so you can cook or slow cook without hands-on intervention.

Future finds

Going forward, gardens are likely to lean heavily on automation and the internet of things (IoT). When the system senses your tomatoes need watering, it will decide how much they need and whether it should water, based on weather conditions. Products will monitor and educate us on what is happening in the yard – they’ll tell you the roses need fungicide, find the product online and all you’ll have to do is say ‘Okay’ to have it shipped to your door. Anyone will be able to be a green thumb with artificial intelligence to guide the way.

Make your garden a smart space

Check out our garden range for all of your gardening needs!

Photo credit: GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski, TI Media, Brigid Arnott.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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