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As summer approaches, many of us will get an annual plea from our local water companies to restrict our use of outdoor sprinklers on lawns and gardens.

It’s no wonder that water authorities need to keep reminding us about using water outdoors mostly for landscape irrigation – for which Americans use nearly 8 billion gallons of water a day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as much as half of that water goes to waste.

Maybe it’s time to consider switching to a smart sprinkler that can literally program itself.

That's right. New sprinkler units incorporate smart technology that program themselves to activate, for example, only when the soil in your lawn is dry. And some smart sprinklers can account for plant types, sun exposure, and even local weather forecasts to ensure that your garden gets exactly the amount of water it needs -- without defying your local water rules.

What Makes a Sprinkler Smart?

Residential smart sprinklers use sensors and actuators to adapt to their environment. When the sprinkler detects the soil is dry, the unit activates its pump, and the sprinkler sprays water onto the designated area.

Some high-end systems include temperature and light sensors to monitor the condition of your soil and garden 24/7. Other systems even include solar panels that power the system so that you never have to replace a battery or install wiring.

Smart systems may cost a bit more than traditional timer systems, but there are advantages:

  • Save money on your water bill. Many water companies offer discounts for people who cut their use of lawn irrigation during certain designated times of the year.
  • Prevent wasted runoff & erosion by using the exact amount of water needed.
  • Easy to install and use -- many simply screw onto existing sprinkler heads, while others are designed to attach directly to your hose.
  • Conveniently control them by voice through a smart speaker or your smartphone.
  • Easily grow gardens and lawns that have specific watering requirements such as a drought-tolerant garden or a patch of edible plants.

Green Enough for Your Lawn or Garden?

Smart sprinklers can be a good investment for you and for the environment. Consumer Reports recently recommended smart sprinkler controllers from Orbit, Rachio, and Rain Bird for their watering accuracy, setup & wiring, and ease of Internet connection.

Consumer Reports advises consumers to look for smart sprinkler controllers certified under the EPA's WaterSense program -- a label that ensures that products "use at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models." Indeed, the EPA says, replacing your standard clock-based controller with a WaterSense-labeled irrigation controller can save up to 15,000 gallons of water every year!

"If every home in the United States with an automatic sprinkler system installed and properly operated a WaterSense labeled controller, we could save up to $4.5 billion in water costs and 390 billion gallons of water across the country annually from not overwatering lawns and landscapes. That's equal to the annual household water needs of 5 million average American homes," says the EPA on its WaterSense website.

So stop manually running hose-activated sprinklers and soakers on a schedule to keep your gardens green. Don’t ask your lawn maintenance firm to program existing timers and controllers to follow designated watering days and hours. Switch to a smart sprinkler this summer.

Manufacturers: Want to tap into the $1275.7 million-dollar worldwide market for smart sprinkler controllers? Contact Ayla for a free consultation or visit our website to learn more about how Ayla IoT is enabling smart connected water systems.