Smart homes decked out with the latest technology to turn up the thermostat and lock the doors while you're away are becoming commonplace. So why not take the tech to the garden? Here are some of the many robots that can do the job as well or better than you.
HEXA: This spider-like six-legged robot chases sunlight for a little succulent situated on its back, using sensors to ensure its plant gets the water and sunlight it needs. The open-source robot allows users to program it to do nearly anything, even a little dance when the plant is in need of water. With its rechargeable base and Wi-Fi capabilities, HEXA is the perfect, albeit creepy, robot.
Tertill: From the creator of Roomba, Tertill utilizes the same concept to run around the vegetable or flower garden and whack down weeds. The Bluetooth-enabled solar-powered robot comes with its own app, sharing information about garden conditions and weather for the week. Tertill cuts down any plant shorter than it, so gardeners need to put up special metal collars that will deter it from slicing any new plantlets. Because it uses a height-based system, it is not suitable for use on grass, which it can damage. But wait
Terra: Unlike Tertill, this contraption from iRobot mows the lawn. Using smart-mapping technology, it can cut in straight lines, without the need for wired boundaries to avoid obstacles in the garden and other landscaping, and Terra's large wheels allow it to handle tough terrain including rocks and tree roots.
GARDENA smart Water Control: Different than timed sprinklers designed to save water use, this sprinkler uses adjustable drip heads to stagger water distribution, which can save up to 70% of water consumption, according to the manufacturer. Its soil moisture sensors are also able to detect a change in weather, giving the sprinklers the ability to stop when it's raining. And they're connected to the GARDENA smart app, which users can use to alter other settings as needed.
SmartPlant: This app allows users to send photos of plants or pests for expert identification within 24 hours. Free to download for Apple and Android devices, it gives users an initial two credits to talk to experts or request identifications, followed by one credit a month. (Premium members pay about $35 annually for unlimited credits.) Users can also use the app to create a library categorizing their plants by scanning plant barcodes and setting up monthly reminders on how to care for their garden.
AeroGarden: This self-contained indoor garden uses aquaponics and a variety of high-performance indoor LED lights to maximize photosynthesis. There are multiple setups depending on what and how much you want to grow, and specialized seed pods are available for everything from flowers to herbs. A control panel lets users know when to water their plants or add fertilizer, while the free blog contains helpful tips and recipes.
Back to the Roots Water Garden: For an interactive setup, try this fish tank that helps grow organic herbs and microgreens. The symbiotic aquaponics system grows plants atop a self-cleaning fish tank that can house a colorful betta fish whose everyday processes will fertilize up to three different plants at a time. Try it with bamboo, tomatoes or silk plants, according to reviews.