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A smart sprinkler controller may be the answer to a green lawn

The app-controlled devices can save water, money, and time

A sprinkler sprays water onto a green lawn. Credit: Getty / Aspheric

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Whether it be due to dry weather or post-winter blues, your grass probably needs a little TLC to get back to its beautiful green state. A smart sprinkler controller, like the Rachio 3, is one of the best tools to help revive your lawn this summer.

Say goodbye to your clunky old controller and hello to a Wi-Fi-enabled way to water your grass from anywhere. These modern-day controllers can help you manage the revival of your yard after winter and maintain a lush-looking lawn through spring and summer.

What is a smart sprinkler controller?

The Rachio 3 smart sprinkler controller sits on the ground.
Credit: Reviewed / Flo Ion

The second-generation Rachio 3 (pictured) is one of the best smart sprinkler controllers.

A smart sprinkler controller hooks up to your existing in-ground irrigation system and connects over Wi-Fi to give you remote control over watering your grass via the companion app. The controllers work by automating the task of opening and closing individual sprinkler valves within your irrigation system.

Smart sprinkler controllers can create custom schedules based on weather conditions, and send important system alerts to your smartphone or tablet. Many smart sprinkler controllers work with smart home platforms like Amazon Echo and Google Home, so you can use voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant as another way to conveniently give your thirsty grass a drink. (If you don't have an in-ground irrigation system, try a smart hose timer for automatic, app-controlled watering with a garden hose.)

How to revive your lawn with a smart sprinkler controller

A woman users the Rachio app outside to access her smart sprinkler controller.
Credit: Rachio

Many smart sprinkler controllers like the Rachio 3 have a companion app so you can control your sprinkler system from anywhere.

Before you turn on the water, invest time into prepping your yard. Use a rake to remove any dead build-up that may hamper the regrowth of the grass. Take a look around for broken sprinkler heads and give the system a test run to check for clogged or leaky valves. Since your sprinklers have likely been out of commission all winter, turn the water on slowly so that the flow of water pressure doesn’t overwhelm your system all at once.

This is also a good time to apply a weed and feed product (suitable for your grass type) and aerate your lawn. Opening up the soil allows nutrients from the fertilizer, as well as air and water, to flow down into the roots of the grass and stimulate new growth. Here are several ways a smart sprinkler controller can help make your old grass new again.

Set watering schedules

A sprinkler is on and spraying a yard.
Credit: Getty / Bill Oxford

A smart irrigation controller creates schedules, automatically adjusts watering amounts and times based on factors like the local forecast, soil data, and more.

One of the biggest benefits of using a smart sprinkler controller is the ability to create and manage watering schedules right from your phone. Remote management is an especially beneficial feature if you are away from home frequently. And, when you’re trying to turn your brown grass green, it may take tinkering around in the app to find a watering schedule that is just right.

With a customizable water schedule, you can set the controller to water your lawn on a certain day and time. This gives you complete control over how much water your system is using.

Then, there are the days that may require more water than others, of course. For example, if you put down fertilizer to encourage growth, or if you’ve recently re-sodded your lawn, you may need to water more frequently than usual. If you decide you don't want to water your grass on a given day, altering the schedule is as easy as using the device's companion app. The feature is helpful if you’re away from home and want to make changes to your current sprinkler schedule—or you simply want the convenience of setting it from your couch.

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Automate sprinkler cycles with weather prediction features

A rainstorm with dark clouds moves in over a large grassy field.
Credit: Getty / bgfoto

Some smart sprinkler controllers are intelligent enough to know when rain is coming and make the necessary adjustments to your lawn's watering schedule.

In the same way you might open the weather app on your phone to check the radar, many smart sprinkler controllers, like the Rachio 3 and Netro Sprite, do the same when determining if the current watering schedule needs to be modified based on the forecast.

The devices can intuitively create and suggest watering custom schedules for you while taking into account local weather conditions and recent rain (using reputable meteorology databases like NOAA and The Weather Channel) that can further automate your sprinkler system with smarts. The feature can do things like automatically skip a cycle if wet weather is in the forecast, which can save you money and prevent overwatering.

The gadgets also pull local data about your lawn such as soil type, amount of sunlight, and grass type to determine the proper amount of water to keep your lawn lush. Your results will vary with features like smart watering, as it depends entirely on the climate in your region and what you have growing.

Help with drainage issues

Rain pours down on a grassy area with standing water.
Credit: Getty / BiancaGrueneberg

A smart sprinkler controller knows when your yard needs to be watered in shorter recurring increments, as opposed to a single watering session.

If your yard tends to take on water quickly, a good smart sprinkler can help by breaking watering events into shorter, more frequent sessions instead of dousing it all at once. Too much water can cause weeds to flourish and brown patches to appear, which can stunt the post-winter growth of your grass.

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