As the icy fingers of winter begin to relax their grip and the daffodils poke their heads up only to get battered down by the gales, it’s inevitable that we begin to turn our thoughts towards the garden. Depending on your attitude to gardening this might be an occasion for joy or for dread. Fortunately whether you’re a green fingered wizard or a do-as-little-as-possible-to-keep-it-tidy type, there are a whole host of new gadgets around to help make things easier and encourage you to release your inner Titchmarsh.
Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor
If you’re a gardening novice, or you’ve moved to a new house and are not sure what kind of plants you’ll be able to grow, it’s all too easy to make the wrong choices or not give plants the attention they need to thrive. Fortunately technology has the answer in the form of the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor.
Simply place the unit outside next to your plants and it will collect information on sunlight, temperature and moisture levels. After it’s had some time to do its job you can analyse the data on your PC or with a smartphone app to determine the exact needs of your plant. It can even send an alert to your phone when your plants need attention.
It will work equally well in the garden or a window box and there’s an indoor version if you’re struggling to keep your houseplants healthy. Your data is stored securely in the cloud so you can move the sensor around and build up a profile of different locations in your garden. Sold through Amazon, the Apple Store and elsewhere, the Koubachi isn’t cheap at £99.95 for the outdoor version, but it could save you a fortune in replacement plants.
Mowing the lawn is one of the chores that many gardeners least look forward to. That’s probably the reason why robot mowing technology is already well established and there are a variety of options on the market.
Mower specialist Flymo is the new kid in the automated garden with its first robotic mower the 1200R. It can handle a lawn area of up to 400 square metres and work on inclines of up to 25%. Programming is quick and simple, you just set cutting days and times on the machine’s display panel and set it off, it automatically returns to its charging station when its batteries get low. Quiet operation means you can set it to mow at night without any fear of disturbing the neighbourhood.
It avoids obstacles using a combination of a boundary wire and collision sensors, it also automatically shuts down when lifted to ensure safe operation. Shop around online and you can pick up a 1200R for £849.99, a small price to pay for a lawn that’s always neat and the opportunity to spend your gardening time lounging in a deckchair.
Black & Decker 3-in-1 Strimmer
It’s usually the case with gardening that one tool is never enough for the job. You cut the lawn with your mower but then you need to switch to a strimmer to finish off the edges. Black & Decker has come up with a clever solution in the form of a strimmer that not only trims and edges but clips into a base to turn it into a lawnmower.
Ideally suited to smaller gardens, the 3-in-1 doesn’t take up much storage space either as you can simply hang it on a wall when not in use. The machine is available in corded and rechargeable versions, the latter being powered by an 18V lithium battery. The mower deck allows you to adjust the cutting height and in edging mode there’s a guide wheel to keep you on track.
The cordless version costs £189 but if you already have a Black & Decker strimmer you can buy the wheeled mower deck separately – check the website for compatibility.
Dealing with weeds is a constant battle for any gardener. Either you pull or dig them out by hand, which risks leaving behind a part of the root to regrow, or you use weedkiller. But conventional sprays risk drift onto other plants and buying pre-mixed sprays is also an expensive option.
The Wonderweeder offers a better way of delivering a lethal dose of herbicide. It’s refillable so you can mix your own deadly cocktail from a concentrated solution, using the dosing cap built into the handle to get it suitably poisonous, and it has a translucent tank so you can see when you’re running out. There’s a protective shield over the spray nozzle allowing you to spot weed without harming surrounding plants and the spray is adjustable too. A big advantage of the Wonderweeder is you can use it standing up so you can tackle your weed problem without putting any strain on your back.
Available at Homebase and other stores the Wonderweeder costs just £17.99.
Garden Plan Pro
If you’re the type of gardener that likes to grow your own produce rather than simply putting on a display of blooms or having a tidy lawn, then you’ll love Garden Plan Pro. It’s an iPod app that not only lets you create a plan for your perfect garden, but by using data from thousands of weather stations around the world it can also recommend the best plants for your location. In addition it can tell you the best times to sow and harvest your fruit and veg to get the best crop.
The app can alert you by email when it’s time to get your wellies out and start planting and it will advise on spacing and crop rotation to help you make the most of your plot. You can also access bonus content on topics like controlling pests.
The app costs £6.99 and it’s compatible with the GrowVeg.com desktop garden planning program so you can transfer plans to and from your iPad.