(Pocket-lint) - Whether you want to save money or water - or both - utilising 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And, even better, old-style systems that relied on your manual input are now being superseded by more modern equivalents, which automatically adapt to weather forecasts, give you round-the-clock app control and link-up with smart assistants.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 available to 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.
Eve's Aqua provides a bit more of a general water system, rather than something that's dedicated to just your sprinklers, but it's an extremely simple and intuitive device.
It allows you to control your sprinkler or irrigation system through the Eve app, with scheduling available from your phone no matter where you are. With automatic shut-off, too, you're never in danger of over-watering.
The Aqua is compatible with most hose systems and multi-channel distributors, while, on the smart side, it supports HomeKit and the latest smart home connectivity standard, Thread.
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.
MoKo Smart Sprinkler Controller
If you have a big outdoor space that needs round-the-clock attention, MoKo's controller is an absolute must-consider.
The Wi-Fi-enabled model can watch over eight irrigation zones, with timers and scheduling easily set up through the companion app or through voice commands via Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant.
As with other models, it's also able to tap into the local weather, and won't turn your sprinklers on when rain or snow is forecast.
Johgee Smart Sprinkler Water Timer
Johgee's timer is another device along the same lines as Eve's Aqua, and that means you do sacrifice some of the premium control of other models.
If you do own a small garden and just want a bit of automated control over it, though, this is a very good option to consider.
There's app control from anywhere, automatic delays if local weather forecasts are showing rain, compatibility with a number of different tap fittings and two different types of watering modes.
Just make sure you have somewhere within 15ft to place the hub, else you may find the connection a bit unstable.
LinkTap G2S Wireless Water Timer
The LinkTap G2S Wireless Water Timer sits neatly on your tap, making sure it's never in the way. You can easily schedule the watering of your garden to whenever you like, even taking the weather into account.
If there are any issues, then luckily you'll get some notifications via an app on your phone. You won't need to worry about leaky pipes while on holiday.
Peace of mind is brought about by the great IP66 waterproof rating as well as the simplicity in use and setup.