I'm one of those guys who doesn't go anywhere without a smartphone or a tablet. When I decided to take my home's lawn and garden to the next level, I knew I'd have to find some tech toys to help me out.
There are dozens of next-generation tools that can make a lawn or garden look healthy and beautiful. Many of these tools are also eco-friendly, so they'll help cut down home power bills. Here's a look at a few favorites that you might consider.
Electric lawn mowers
According to the EPA, gasoline-powered lawn mowers are a significant source of pollution in the United States. On top of that, they're not especially good for your lawn -- all of those pollutants are pretty tough on grass.
The good news is that you don't have to haul out the old hand-powered mower to get an eco-friendly lawn. Electric lawn mowers are perfect for small to medium-sized lawns. They use new battery technology to ensure consistent operation, even when they're running low on power. They're also relatively affordable; some have a price tag around $200.
Digital garden sensors
People with green thumbs usually just have a better idea of when to water and fertilize their plants than other people. New digital garden sensors handle this part of gardening for you. You simply stick them in the ground next to your plants and check the digital readout every once in a while to figure out what to do next.
I bought a USB garden sensor. It gives me instant information about my garden by measuring factors like humidity, sunlight, and water, then telling me precisely what I'm doing wrong. Garden sensors only cost $20-$30, so they're well worth the investment if you're already spending hundreds of dollars on flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
My parents recently moved to Arizona, and they've had a lot of trouble keeping a green, healthy lawn. I tell them that green plants aren't really supposed to live in the desert, but arguing with a confirmed lawn lover is tough. Whether you live in Arizona, Illinois, or anywhere else, if you're watering your lawn, you definitely need to make sure that you aren't wasting money and fresh water.
A typical low-flow sprinkler kit will use about 30 gallons of water per hour, which makes them far more efficient than traditional sprinklers. I've found that the sprinklers that spray thin jets work more effectively for lawns. Avoid the mist-type low-flow sprinklers for lawns. You can get a good low-flow sprinkler kit for about $60-$100, but that's without installation.
When you install one of these next-generation sprinklers, you should also install a moisture-sensitive trigger. Moisture sensors range from high-tech to low-tech, but the low-tech basically consist of a cup that turns off the sprinkler system when it's filled with water. That should be sufficient to prevent overwatering for most lawns and gardens, and they're easy to find at a local hardware store.