From automatic watering systems to smart cooking, garden gadgets are no doubt the dream ticket to hassle free outdoor living. Because what is a garden for if not a tool for enjoyment and relaxation?
There are typically two types of gardeners. There are those who see garden tasks like watering plants by hand and mowing the lawn as a labour of love and a tool for switching off and unwinding. And there are others who associate relaxation with settling down outdoors in fine weather, with a good book and refreshing tipple.
If you identify more with the latter, then the best garden gadgets which allow you to spend less time battling with the hose and more time searing your steaks, might top the list.
From the best robot lawn mowers to hi-tech BBQs, here's what the Gardeningetc team have got on their Christmas wishlist.
What are the best garden gadgets and are they worth the investment?
A legitimate question indeed. Particularly as garden gadgets such as robot lawn mowers can be a pricey investment. Before splashing out you'll want to make sure that this is in fact a good product for you.
Knowing the pros and cons of the most common garden tech and weighing these up is a good starting point before you buy. Here are some of our favourites to get you started.
1. Automatic watering systems
Whether your garden is parched in the summertime, it’s far too cold to head outdoors in winter or you’re away from home often, introducing one of the best self-watering systems to your garden will ensure your planting stays hydrated year round.
A step up from self-watering planters, these clever little gadgets are controlled using a companion app on your smartphone or pre-programmed to water plants on cue. They can be adjusted in reaction to the weather (watering more or less, depending on the amount of rainfall forecast) and basically do all the hard work for you whatever the weather, so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
You will need an outdoor tap installed if you don't have one already and most rely on a sprinkler or irrigation system to work, which will be an extra expense.
One of our favorites is the Eve Aqua smart water controller from Very (opens in new tab). As it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, you can control the Eve Aqua using Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. You can also set up pre-programmed times for watering to coincide with outdoor lights switching on in the evenings, making your garden super smart.
Another clever garden gadget is the Gardena Bluetooth Water Control timer from Tooled Up (opens in new tab). You simply connect this garden gadget to your sprinkler or irrigation system via your outdoor tap and it will water your garden for you. It will suggest the ideal watering cycles for your plants, or you can set up to three different schedules of your choice.
2. Outdoor cooking tech
Gone are the days of burnt burgers and sausages on the barbecue. The best BBQs have built-in tech that can now help you cook your food to perfection outdoors. This means you can afford to push the boat out a little and buy that more expensive cut of meat, safe in the knowledge that you won’t incinerate it absentmindedly while chatting with friends or family.
From temperature probes that alert you when your food is ready like the Smart Grilling Hub from Weber (opens in new tab), to grills and ovens that automatically raise and lower the heat for you all via an app, you’re guaranteed perfectly cooked feasts no matter how few or how many you’re cooking for.
It's important to note, however, that smart barbecues are pricey (though smart thermometers are a lot less so. And some people might prefer the ‘traditional’ way of cooking. There are some recipes which don't require smart tech so you might find yourself feeling obligated using it all the time even when it's not really needed.
But for those people who like to be part of the action, then having garden gadgets which allow you to relax rather than keeping an eye on the grill at all times means a smart grilling system should be one of your outdoor grill ideas.
The Traeger Pro D2 575 WiFi connected wood pellet barbecue at John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab) will allow you to cook up a storm from the comfort of your lounger or sofa. The hopper will automatically feed the fire to the exact temperature you set it to (so there’s no fuel wasted unnecessarily) and you can adjust the heat via your smartphone so you barely need to budge from your seat.
If you're looking for a smart portable option, the BioLite FirePit+ Outdoor Smokeless Fire Pit and Grill at Amazon (opens in new tab) is part BBQ, part fire-pit. It features a built-in fan that reduces the amount of smoke it expels. Weighing just under 9kg, the fan is controlled from the integrated rechargeable powerpack or via your smartphone.
3. Robot lawn mowers
Mowing the lawn, a bit like vacuuming, tends to be low on the list of people’s favourite chores. It can often take ages to complete the job, especially if your mower collects the cuttings in a separate bin that you have to repeatedly empty. Yet, just like robot vacuums, robot mowers show that they can do the job that you don’t want, and do it just as well (or better in some cases).
Meticulous and thorough, just as you would expect from the best lawn mowers, robot mowers cut your lawn on a schedule of your choice, leaving you free to do whatever takes your fancy. You will have to find space for a charging dock in your garden which might be tricky if you have limited space.
An important thing to bear in mind when you're wondering how does a robot lawn mower work, is that certain no-go areas will need to be marked off using wire and/or pegs so your mower doesn’t go off piste.
One of the most popular robot mower options is the Flymo EasiLife 150 GO Robotic Lawn Mower from Amazon (opens in new tab). Perfect for gardens up to 150 square metres in size, this super quiet mower is app controlled, which also allows you to schedule mowing times, too. After each cut, it returns to its compact charging station, which is only 60cm in width and can be placed anywhere in your garden.
For a budget-friendly buy, it's worth looking at the Mac Allister MRM250 Cordless Robotic lawn mower at B&Q (opens in new tab). This extremely affordable mower will cut lawns up to 250 square meters in size and when the battery runs low, it will automatically return to its dock to recharge. It lacks a companion app for remote control, but it can still be manually programmed to cut the lawn at set times of the day or week.
4. Outdoor speaker systems
From listening to the radio while pottering in the garden, tuning into your favourite podcast or DJing at your own gathering, buying a good quality outdoor sound system is, well… a sound investment.
Made specifically for the outdoors, these garden gadgets are weatherproof and super durable, withstanding anything the rain, hail and toddler from next door throws at them. You can go the whole hog and buy a complete outdoor sound system, but unless you have acres of garden, a smart portable speaker or two might be all you need to provide you with the means to soundtrack your day in style.
Be aware that outdoor speaker systems tend to rely on wifi and the best bluetooth speakers will need a bluetooth connection so you will need a decent connection for them to work. Also remember to be aware of your neighbors.
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore Wireless Portable Outdoor Bluetooth speaker from Amazon (opens in new tab) is a mug-sized portable speaker. It's rugged and waterproof and comes with a handy carabiner so you can hang it from pretty much anything in your garden. Available in a choice of three colours - grey, black and a camouflaging emerald green - invest in a pair and you can listen in stereo.
For something a little different, the Lithe Audio All-in-one Bluetooth outdoor garden rock speaker from Amazon (opens in new tab) looks like a garden rock so it can be hidden in your flowerbeds or containers. Made from tough all-weather material so it can be left outdoors year round, the sound that emits from it is crisp and clear. Perfect if you prefer a more organic look to your outdoor music system, it can be paired to any device via Bluetooth or voice controlled with Google or Alexa.
For maximum flexibility, the Polk Audio Atrium Sat 300 outdoor speaker from Ceiling Speakers (opens in new tab)comes with a choice of fixtures that let you wall mount or hang from a pergola, while the subwoofer sits almost invisibly on the ground.
5. Smart garden lighting
While many may balk at the idea of smart lighting within a home, thinking it fussy and unnecessary, the color variety and control you get from installing smart options are pretty unbeatable for gorgeous outdoor lighting ideas.
Wiring is minimal and once installed, you can program your lights to go on at dusk (and off again at bedtime), set colors to complement your planting and even highlight an area of your garden that you use or love the most.
The best outdoor lights are fully customisable and can be controlled via voice assistant as well as a companion app, guaranteeing you’ll never be left in the dark again.
The Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Lily LED Outdoor Smart Light from Amazon (opens in new tab) is a fully adjustable smart spotlight that will add a wash of light or color to your garden. If you’re not already familiar with Hue, it requires a separate device called a Bridge to connect it to your Wi-Fi, but once paired, you can link up to 50 Hue lights to the same programme, set schedules and app or voice control them.
The Innr Zigbee Smart Color Outdoor Pedestal Lights Set from Amazon (opens in new tab) will brighten up your garden subtly and in virtually any color you like. Controlled using a Hub (the Amazon Echo 4, Amazon Studio, Amazon Echo Show 10 or Philips Hue Hub will all work), they can be hidden in planting or at the base of walls and fences for soft, barely there lighting.
And for some fun festoon lights, the 10m 20 LED Twinkly Smart App Controlled Festoon Lights from Lights4Fun (opens in new tab) are worth a look. Suitable for indoors and out, these wifi lights can be scheduled to whatever color and sequence you like using the Twinkly app. What’s more, they’re compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control, too.
6. Smart outdoor security
Smart security has been huge over the past few years with video doorbells and cameras the latest must-have buys for the home. But how might products like the best outdoor security camera benefit your garden? There are plenty of products that have features that work well in plots big and small - such as clever functionality like motion-activated lights on cameras or smartphone and fingerprint activated locks - they’ll make life easier while deterring any burglars or opportunistic thieves.
Designed to blend into their surroundings rather than stick out like a sore thumb, some security garden gadgets can be paired up with other same brand devices to give you a complete overview of your home, both indoors and out.
The Netatmo Smart Outdoor Security Camera from Amazon (opens in new tab) will shine a light on anything that trips the motion sensors. The smart camera will stream directly to your phone and it’s compatible with the three leading voice assistants – Alexa, Google and Siri – so you can tell it to switch its light on whenever you choose.
Our second option works slightly differently. The Swann Smart Thermal Sensor Outdoor Security Camera from Robert Dyas (opens in new tab) picks up heat rather than movement so you won't find that things like falling leaves and hard rain will set it off. The pack contains everything you need to set up and has two cameras with an 85 degree viewing angle.
Ginevra is Associate Editor across the homes titles at Future. She has worked for the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Livingetc, as well as for websites HomesandGardens.com and Gardeningetc.com. She has written about every area of the home, indoors and out, from shopping and decorating, appliances and home tech, wallpaper and fabric, kitchens and bathrooms, even extensions and conversions.
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