Smart Gardening Guide – Learn About Gardening With Technology

Once you get the hang of it, gardening is a fairly intuitive process. That doesn’t mean we can’t garden smarter. What is smart gardening? Just like devices such as smart phones, smart gardening takes advantage of the technology around us. Tech isn’t just for video games and phone apps. Gardening with technology can save time, energy and money.

Check out these smart garden techniques and take home some inventive ideas that can help you in the landscape.

What is Smart Gardening?

Smart technology is all the rage, but did you know ittranslates to useful help in the garden? Whether you are a lazy or simplyuninformed gardener, gardening with technology can help with chores and taskscommon in the landscape.

From smart irrigation systems to self-control lawn mowers,technology has its finger on the gardener’s pulse. Many of us are familiar withsmart plant meters, which monitor the health and moisture levels of houseplants,but the concept doesn’t stop there.

Use our smart gardening guide for tips on technologicalproducts that are engineered to create healthier, low maintenance solutions foryour yard.

Smart Gardening Guide

More and more products are being developed to help lower ourcarbon footprint, simplify chores and help us be wiser consumers. Such technologycan enhance plant care, help with landscape design and inform us of the bestplants for specific sites. In an imagined future, all the drudgery of gardeningwill be removed, leaving only the pleasurable aspects of maintaining your home.

  • Smart plant monitors – There are many plant monitors available to introduce technology to the beginning gardener. Many of these are simply inserted into soil and can take measurements of moisture levels, track light and humidity, and even analyze soil. Many can even determine the nutrients in soil.
  • Smart gardens – Indoor gardens take the guesswork out of growing your own food or herbs. Most are self-contained systems that provide light, automatic watering, fertilizer and customized heat levels. All you need to do is plant or sow seed and the unit does the rest.
  • Smart sprinklers – Smart sprinklers do more than just schedule irrigation. They can determine breaks and leaks in the system, save water, adjust to accommodate weather and often can be monitored and changed via your phone or computer.
  • Expandable pots – A really wonderful new concept is the expandable pot. The containers are said to expand as the plant grows so you don’t need to keep purchasing pots a size up.
  • Gardening apps – Garden apps can help with design, plant ID, placement of irrigation, solve problem areas and much more. Many, like the GKH Gardening Companion (for Android and iPhone), are available free or you can purchase easy-to-use guides in a variety of formats.
  • Smart mowers – Mowbot is an automated lawn mower. It operates similarly to robotic vacuums only in a mower. No more sweating in the hot sun trying to get the lawn cut.
  • Robotic weeders – A product under development is Tertill, a solar powered weeding robot. The idea is that you simply place the product out in a sunny location of the garden and it will weed for you. No more back breaking stooping or use of chemicals.

How to Make a Smart Garden

Some of the products are a bit on the pricey side, so pickyour battles within your budget first. The next step is planning. If youalready have an irrigation system, that might be the first way to bringtechnology into the home.

Even apartment and condo dwellers can utilize the indoorgrowing systems, smart grow lights and self-watering containers.

The future looks bright for technology to go hand in handwith gardeners, solving numerous problems and enhancing the growing experience.

MSU Extension Gardening in Michigan

Updated from an original article written by Diane Brown and Gretchen Voyle, Michigan State University Extension.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an integral part of a smart garden.

Keeping pests away from cole crops, such as this kohlrabi, can be as simple as placing a row cover over for protection. Photo by Mary Wilson, MSU Extension.

What is IPM and why is it smart?

IPM stands for “integrated pest management.” It is a way to manage insects, diseases, weeds, animals and other “pests” that cause damage by combining biological, cultural, mechanical and chemical practices. It uses a series of steps to understand pests and decide the best methods of control. The principles of IPM can be applied to managing a lawn or landscape, pests in a home or producing food in a vegetable garden.

The goal of IPM is to reduce environmental, health and economic risks. By understanding that multiple methods can be used to manage a pest problem, it is possible to reduce or eliminate pesticide applications while still addressing garden problems. Smart gardeners use IPM to protect human health and the environment by making more environmentally-friendly pest management choices.

Are IPM and organic methods the same thing?

Not always. Organic food production is more restrictive, limiting use of pesticides and fertilizers to those produced from natural sources instead of allowing synthetic chemicals as some IPM strategies do. However, IPM can be used in every type of production and you can adopt an organic IPM management strategy.

Steps to following IPM

Identify pests and understand their lifecycles. Know your plants, the common pests that affect them and the damage they cause. Only a few insects are actually pests many are beneficial or do no harm. Take time to identify beneficial insects and pollinators.

Understand that different life stages of pests do not look alike and that not all stages cause damage or can be managed. By understanding their lifecycles, you learn the best timing for successful management strategies.

Different life stages of a beneficial lady beetle: larva, pupa, adult. Photos by Larva - Frank Peairs, CO St U, pupa and adult - Russ Ottens, UofGA

For help in identifying specific insects and diseases, call Michigan State University Extension’s toll-free Lawn & Garden Hotline at 1-888-678-3464, or send samples to MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics. For information on how to send samples and a list of available services and fees, visit

Prevent or limit damage. In general, pests are best managed by preventing them many cannot be eliminated once they are established. Think about methods to keep them out, such as row covers in a vegetable garden.

Scout for pests. Check your garden regularly for insects and diseases and record what you find in a journal rather than rely on memory. Keep a magnifying glass or hand lens handy to see more detail for better identification. Use the information collected to help plan pest management the following year. Traps such as yellow sticky cards can be helpful in scouting. These can be placed just above the plant canopy and help detect some insects.

Be realistic with IPM. Once you have identified a problem, determine what options you have for managing it. Some pests are more damaging than others. Establish tolerances for pests and pest damage. Don’t expect plants or vegetables to look picture perfect. Some insect damage can be tolerated and will still allow a good quality vegetable harvest.

Implement your control tactics. Select effective and environmentally-friendly methods, such as the examples below.

Evaluate. Record what worked and what didn’t. Make adjustments accordingly. How to implement IPM in your vegetable garden

Right plant, right site. Vegetables grow best in well-drained soils and full sun – a minimum of six hours a day, ideally eight to 10 hours. Get a soil test at to find out about soil pH, needed nutrients, organic matter content, soil type and to receive recommendations to improve the soil. Michigan State University Extension provides an easy-to-use soil test kit that can be purchased at the MSU Extension Bookstore (search E3154).

Start with healthy plants. Buy well-branched, stocky transplants with healthy leaves, sturdy stems and well-established root systems. Transplants need good root systems to quickly establish in the garden. Roots should be well formed, whitish and hold the soil mass together. Avoid older, overgrown or pot-bound transplants with flowers or fruit, as this will limit yields. Reject plants with soft, brown or rotten roots. Select varieties with multiple disease and insect resistance or tolerance, if possible.

Employ environmentally-friendly pest management methods

Keep tools and equipment clean by using a solution of 10% chlorine bleach to disinfest tools after using them on diseased plants. Keep plantings clean by removing and destroying diseased plants or those that are severely infested with insects during the growing season.

Clean tools and equipment after working with diseased plants. Photo by Joy Landis, MSU IPM Program.

Rotate the garden location and where you plant crops within the garden every few years if space is available. This will help avoid the buildup of plant diseases and insects.

Manage weeds by hand-pulling or cultivating the soil with a hoe or apply organic mulches after the soil warms. If using pre-emergent herbicides, always follow label instructions to avoid damaging your garden plants. Plant cover crops after harvest.

Using straw as organic mulch will help manage weeds. Photo by Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension.

Manage insects and mites by using insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils on soft-bodied insects and mites. Hand-pick larger insects such as potato beetles and tomato hornworms. Manage diseases by prevention rather than treatment. Select disease-resistant vegetable varieties and use proper plant spacing in order to allow good air circulation and drying of the foliage.

For more information on a wide variety of Smart Gardening topics, visit or call MSU’s Lawn and Garden hotline at 1-888-678-3464.

This publication is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Did you find this article useful?

Smart Garden © GPL3+

Try smart gardening at your home or office.

  • automation
  • plants
  • sensor
  • 30 respects

Gardening is very interesting, so I thought about making a project in gardening. Nowadays smart garden systems are very popular because people enjoy them. However my challenge is to make the project very simple so that anyone can try this at home or office.

The system is very easy because Arduino and its sensors are easy to use and buy.

1. Soil Moisture Sensor: It is very popular. By using it, I can make the water system automatic. When soil needs water, it can water it.

2. Temperature and Humidity Sensor: Right temperature is very important for gardening to grow good plants. Using this sensor I am able to know the temperature easily. If the temperature lowers, I can easily connect any powerful light with relay and can make the temperature perfect for plants.

3. LDR (photoresistor): This sensor can show the light condition of garden.

4. Using a display , I can see every senor data easily.

5. The most interesting thing is that I can power the Arduino and sensor using SOLAR because Arduino works in low power.

10 Easy Indoor Smart Gardens

Growing a garden can be both rewarding and relaxing, and while many types of fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens are grown outdoors, many can be cultivated indoors, too. Consider one of the following top smart garden kits to help get your green thumb motivated.

1. Smart Garden 3

The Smart Garden 3 kit provides the opportunity to have fresh herbs year-round with little maintenance. Because herbs need sunlight and fresh water, the simplicity of this kit takes care of both of the plant's requirements. The kit features a planter that is self-watering, an attached LED grow light, and nutrient rich and pH balanced soil packed into three individual plant pods. Choose from over 50 seed selections or use your own.

2. Smart Garden 9

If you're looking for an indoor garden that can accommodate multiple plants and herbs all in one container, the Smart Garden 9 is a viable option. This kit has everything needed to start growing up to nine plants. Seed pods for green-leaf lettuce, basil, and cherry tomatoes in addition to the same self-watering system and grow light as the #3 smart kit are included.

3. Modern Sprout Growhouse

The convenience of the Modern Sprout Growhouse is its versatility. For homes with limited countertops or windowsills, the growhouse can be mounted on a wall using the hardware included with the kit. The growhouse is a good choice for growing herbs, lettuce, watercress, etc., and features an LED light, built-in timer, on/off switch, watertight base, and an app for customizing control. The growhouse can accommodate plants up to 4 inches tall.

4. AeroGarden Harvest

For a soil-free growing experience, the AeroGarden Harvest kit comes complete with an auto timer, LED lights, liquid plant food, and pre-seeded pods that include dill, curly parsley, mint, thyme, and Thai and Genovese basil. The container provides easy growing for flowers, vegetables, and greens as well as assorted herbs.

5. Chef'n Microgreens Garden

When fresh greens and herbs are part of your diet, there is no better way to get the "freshest" produce than growing your own with the Chef'n Microgreens Garden. Instead of growing full-size items that take a while to produce edible goods, the microgreens garden grows miniature versions, which take less time - as little as a week for some varieties - with few exceptions. The kit includes packets of organic seeds, soil, and complete instructions for growing multiple plant varieties. The best part of these—they're cheap.

6. Back to the Roots Water Garden

There's something fishy about the Back to the Roots Water Garden that makes this aquaponic garden worth the investment. The creative garden features a supply of wheatgrass and microgreens for a three-month period and a fish tank with a Beta fish included. The fish provides nutrients for plants and/or herbs growing in the container that sits atop the tank. Not only does the fish provide fertilizer but the tank is also self-cleaning, which makes this a convenient, all-in-one indoor garden. Back to the Roots also has an organic mushroom growing kit for those who want to add a few caps and stems to their favorite dishes.

7. Hydrofarm Hydroponic Salad Garden

Convenient, easy to use, and minimal maintenance is what to expect with the Hydrofarm Hydroponic Salad Garden Box Kit. The countertop system uses no electricity or soil. It is designed with a wicking system to provide water and nutrients to each plant situated in one of the eight compartments. Use the garden to grow lettuce or other greens indoors with the support of a grow light.

8. Mr. Stacky Smart Farm

Vertical gardening is another option for gardeners with limited indoor space. The Mr. Stacky Smart Farm has a tower design with specially designed individual containers that sit one atop the other starting with the planter base. The self-watering aeroponic garden includes assorted non-GMO seeds, plant food, pH test kit, and a germination kit.

9. Hydrofarm Hydroponic Megagarden Ebb & Flow System

Grow up to 15 plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables at one time in the megagarden system. The hydroponic garden uses a timer to pump nutrients and water from the reservoir to the plant tray to promote growth. The kit includes plant nutrients, seed-starter cubes, and a pH test kit.

10. SunBlaster Mini Greenhouse Kit

Provide seeds with the environment they need flourish with the SunBlaster Mini Greenhouse Kit. Ideal for growing herbs and other plants, the kit includes a spacious tray to place small seed containers, a high-quality fluorescent light, reflector, and a humidity dome.

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Step 18: Planting Results

The pictures above are the results of the iot garden working for a month. The plants are healthy and we managed to grow herbs such as mint and coriander.

Through experimentation, we have noticed that the auto-mode saves close to 12% of water per day. As the plants are watered through drip irrigation, their roots grow straight giving more space to grow more plants in the planter. The only drawback that we observed was that the bigger plants need more soil depth. That said due to the modular construction one can easily add a deeper base to their requirements.

To conclude, this system not only makes your garden more efficient but also ensures the well-being of your plants as the real time data feedback provides a robust method to give the right amount of water and sunlight. We hope that the instructable was useful and that it will help you grow your very own iot garden.

Watch the video: Top 10 Smart Indoor Gardening Gadget Inventions

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