In the Garden

Gardening Gadgets Help You Get Your Green On

Years ago, I spent my winter evenings searching through gardening magazines and catalogs for heirloom seeds and crafted tilling tools. I am no longer a passionate garden guy, but I still visit websites featuring seeds, tools, and landscaping tips. Through them, I’ve found some neat stuff for the growing and mowing season.

Worx Robot Mower
Worx Robot Mower

Take, for example, robot mowers. Yes, they exist — and they have evolved. They can mow the area within a buried boundary wire, methodically snip away lawns, park into charging stations when done, and have security systems to discourage thieves. Prices for WORX, Gardena, and John Deere “mowbots” range from $600 to more than $7,000.

Tertill solar-powered weeding robot
Tertill solar-powered weeding robot

Then there’s the Tertill, a solar-powered weeding robot that can differentiate between weeds and plants.

Its wheels churn the topsoil layer, stopping weeds from sprouting. And it cuts down weed sprouts with a built-in string trimmer. Bundles run between $350 and $500.

Want to mesmerize your neighbors? Use a little muscle and a hovering lawnmower. Yes: hovering. No wheels. Bluebird, Flymo, and Sun Joe offer gas and electric units in the $150 to $1,300 range.

Brinno Garden Watch Cam
Brinno Garden Watch Cam

Watch your garden grow with time-lapse photography using specialized, customizable cameras. You can focus on one plant or the whole patch. Brinno’s Garden Watch Cam leads the pack, but trail and game cameras also work. Prices range from $150 to $600.

There are dozens of smart sprinkler options to automate and economize watering routines. Some are dial timers while others are Wi-Fi hubs controlled with your smartphone or Alexa. A few have water sensors that run the system and regularly report conditions and watering activities. Basic timers run less than $80 while Wi-Fi stations can cost more than $500.

Parrot Flower Power
Parrot Flower Power

Plant trackers are standalone, wireless “spikes” inserted into a potted plant or garden soil. They monitor soil moisture, fertilizer, ambient temperature, and light intensity, reporting back to your smart phone in real-time. Parrot Flower Power, OLLIVAN, and Netro models run from $30 to $100.

Browsing the app store isn’t as much fun as a stroll through the garden center, but there are many gardening-related apps to consider. Some are paid; others are free but require paid upgrades for expanded features. Still others have subscription fees. Check out myGarden which is a free app. The Gardner’s Supply website also hosts a free online planner.

Plant identifiers such as SmartPlant, LeafSnap, and FlowerChecker can be helpful when you are knee-deep in plants you don’t recognize. Not sure what that crawly beast is? Picture Insect, Pest Identifier, or iNaturalist will name the beastie.

If you can’t wait until the planting season to get your hands dirty you can always try virtual farming.

Farmville still rules Facebook, offers over 30+ farming-related games, and there is even farm- and harvest-themed solitaire games in your app store.

I must admit, all these gardening gadgets tempt me to get back to my roots… especially carrots, radishes, and rutabagas.


Broc Sears

Broc Sears is an assistant professor of professional practice at TCU’s Bob Schieffer College of Communication and also works with the Texas Center for Community Journalism. He has more than three decades of experience in the news, advertising and marketing industries and earned recognition from the Society for News Design, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, APME of Texas and the Dallas Press Club. He and his wife enjoy the best days of their lives here in Dallas with their family.

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