(Pocket-lint) - Whether you want to save money or water - or both - employing a top smart sprinkler controller is the easiest way to improve your irrigation system.
Installing one not only means your pipes and valves will be able to operate more efficiently, but you also get the added bonus of never having to mindlessly hose down the lawn again. And, even better, old-style systems that relied on your manual input are now being superseded by more modern equivalents, which automatically adapt to weather forecasts, give you anytime app control and link-up with smart assistants.
It's still a difficult area of the smart garden to pick through, however, which is why we're here to guide you. Below, we've detailed some of the top picks to help keep your grass greener than the other side.
Best smart sprinkler controllers you can buy
Orbit's B-hyve takes inspiration from some of the more classic sprinkler controllers and bakes in extra smarts to give you greater control.
Users can set timers manually, or, alternatively, can rely on the device's weather-based software to create a custom plan. This can even take into account your garden's conditions, including any slopes, the soil type, and sun/shade levels.
The B-hyve is also relatively simple to install and can be placed either indoors or outdoors. Whether you need to access the full wiring terminal or the plug-and-go line cord, the design makes this very straightforward.
Rachio's eight-zone sprinkler unit is a bit more basic than others when it comes to manual control, but it excels in its automatic features.
Once set up, which should take around 30 minutes, the 8ZULWC-L is able to easily distinguish when a sprinkle is necessary, with the user able to skip when it's raining, windy or freezing. Seasonal shifts can be set within the app, too, as well as a manual start, pause or stop of the watering.
For those who would rather use voice control, the unit is even able to link up with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant and begin cycles.
RainMachine Touch HD-12
You want your sprinklers to gain some smart control, but you also want the unit to look a bit more stylish on your wall than the classic, barebones panel. Enter, then, Rainmachine's Touch HD-12.
You get all the standard smart features here, such as schedules that automatically adjust to the forecast - even when Wi-Fi is down.
What you really pay for, though, is that beautiful display. It's able to give you a nice visual of the 12 zones you can control, giving you the choice to create, edit and begin the watering schedule directly from the wall.
Of course, there is app and voice assistant support, too, which allows for on-the-fly sprinkling when you're not at home.
Rain Bird ST8I-2.0
Rain Bird's ST8I-2.0 follows the more traditional design for sprinkler controllers, but don't let its looks deceive - this is one smart piece of kit.
It's able to easily connect to your phone and the companion app, as well as Amazon Alexa for voice control. This allows for on-the-go adjustments to timers, as well as manually through the control panel.
Like others, the real efficiency boost comes from the device's automatically adjusting watering schedules, which are based on local weather, temperature, humidity and more.
Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller
Netro's sprinkler controller offers the clean, modern look of a smart home hub and a super-simple setup, making it a great pick for watering newcomers.
There are six zones you can control through the panel, and it's able to dynamically create and adjust watering schedules based on the local forecast.
Handily, it's also able to automatically comply with restrictions in your area, too, and you can always adjust things manually while on the move thanks to the very intuitive companion app.