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Watering the lawn may finally be getting smarter

Watering the lawn may finally be getting smarter


Moen and Rachio have introduced new smart watering solutions at CES, designed to reduce water waste while keeping your plants healthy.

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The Rachio Smart Hose Timer next to a smart phone displaying the Rachio app.
The Rachio Smart Hose Timer (pictured) can be directly connected to a faucet, allowing you to control and monitor your watering schedule via a free app.
Image: Rachio

There are plenty of smart home gadgets being showcased at CES this year, but frankly, I’m most excited by the prospect of autonomous lawn care. Luckily for me (and my poor neglected garden), both Moen and Rachio are releasing new smart irrigation gadgets that can be used to remotely control watering locations and frequency in your yard, helping to keep plants healthy while reducing water waste. And only one of them actually requires you to already have an expensive irrigation system in place.

First up, Moen is expanding its Smart Water Network — a system of products designed to control and monitor water usage — with a new Smart Sprinkler Controller and Smart Wireless Soil Sensors. Moen claims that the Smart Sprinkler Controller can be installed onto an existing irrigation system in under 30 minutes with no mention of any compatibility restrictions. Sadly, this system isn’t Matter compatible, but Moen has confirmed to The Verge that it can be integrated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Moen’s Smart Sprinkler Controller (pictured center) and Wireless Soil Sensors (right) on a concrete backdrop. A smartphone is also visible.
Moen’s Smart Sprinkler Controller (pictured center) and Wireless Soil Sensors (right) enable precise watering by monitoring the moisture levels of your soil and tracking local weather conditions.
Image: Moen

Users can monitor water usage and estimated savings as well as set up customized watering schedules and enable seasonal features such as weather skip, which uses local weather data to disable your sprinklers when rain is predicted in the area. It’s worth noting that most irrigation systems offer similar features these days, but the Moen Smart Sprinkler Controller can be monitored and operated via a smartphone app rather than just the unit itself — similar to devices already offered by Orbit and Rachio.

It’s available in eight- and 16-zone models that allow you to manage different sections of your garden independently (depending on your irrigation system) if you have plants with variable watering requirements. Pricing for the Smart Sprinkler Controller starts at $179.99.

A phone displaying the Moen smart water app over a top-down view of a beautiful garden.
Setting up multiple watering zones in your yard allows you to create customized watering schedules using the Moen Smart Sprinkler Controller and app for each lawn, flower bed, or vegetable patch based on its individual needs.
Image: Moen

As much as I’d love to be some green-fingered goddess, I actually suck at keeping most plants alive and healthy. I’m too neglectful with my watering habits and rarely manage to nail how much of the stuff they need, so I especially have my eyes on the Moen Smart Wireless Soil Sensors. These can be used to detect precise soil moisture and temperature levels between a depth of one and five inches, transmitting that information to the Moen Smart Sprinkler Controller to automatically adjust watering schedules in sections where more or less moisture is required, reducing unnecessary water waste and helping to keep your plants in optimal health.

The Moen Smart Wireless Soil Sensors being placed into a hole on a lawn.
The Moen Smart Wireless Soil Sensors are wireless and can be placed flush against the ground — ideal for folks like me that are liable to accidentally run over them with a lawnmower.
Image: Moen

The Moen Smart Wireless Soil Sensors are completely wireless, so you don’t need to dig trenches in your lawn to run cables, and they should sit flush to ground level when inserted (to avoid any mishaps with gardening tools). Each sensor includes a lithium battery that lasts up to six years, though Moen hasn’t mentioned if these are replaceable. Pricing for the Moen Smart Wireless Soil Sensors, which are sold separately from the Moen Smart Sprinkler Controller, starts at $70.

While Rachio already offers smart irrigation controllers, its latest gadget is for those of us still relying on our hose to get the watering done. Rachio’s Smart Hose Timer was announced at CES this week and is for people who don’t already have pricey irrigation systems installed. For $99, it’s a more affordable offering that connects directly to an outdoor faucet, hose, or drip system. The Smart Hose Timer is controlled via the free Rachio app and can also create customizable watering schedules on a day-by-day basis. Local weather tracking can instruct the timer to automatically skip watering based on real-time rain data for each scheduled watering session rather than the entire day, ensuring other sessions aren’t unnecessarily skipped. The Rachio Smart Hose Timer comes with the valve and Wi-Fi hub and will be available in March 2023.