Landscape Logic: Are your sprinklers as smart as your phone?
Ryan Summerlin July 8, 2013
If you have a smartphone, you could use a smart controller
You run your life with a smartphone or similar device. It saves you time and that often saves you money.
If you run your sprinkler system with a device made in the last millennium, you’ve got a serious technology gap. And that’s not smart. Water is as precious as time and if you don’t run it well, that, too, will cost you money.
What is a ‘smart’ controller?
The timer or controller is the brains of the system that tells sprinklers when and how long to water. And like the evolutions of your personal cell phone, it can run on the latest technology — or merely limp along. Do you remember the limited functions your cell had in 1999? Point made.
What makes a smart controller smart?
Three technologies can go into a smart controller:
• Some talk to a satellite that talks to weather stations and then relay the info back to the controller. That weather data determines when your sprinkler system operates.
• The controller can also talk to moisture sensors in the root zones of your plants in your yard. It will set operating times based on the moisture levels in the soil.
• Some smart controllers rely on weather stations mounted on your house. They monitor real time weather conditions of natural precipitation, wind and temperature and use that data to determine if, when and how long the sprinklers run.
And you get to make your controller smarter still. In the same way you enter contacts into your phone, you also need to enter personal details about your yard:
• All types of sprinklers you have such as rotors, pop-up spray heads or drip irrigation.
• Plant type — lawn, shrubs, flowers, etc.
• Soil type — such as clay or sand.
• Precipitation rates of each type of sprinkler, meaning how many inches of water each would apply in one hour.
All this makes the controller smart about your yard and it factors into the equations that set up watering times.
What about cost?
A smart controller can be installed for even less than the cost of most smartphones. For a typical yard, the cost is right in the range of a new smartphone, which makes them affordable. And many controllers will qualify for rebates from your city or water provider. Add the rebate to money saved in water costs and this technology will pay for itself in a short amount of time.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.