By Sumi Das
Posting in Science
You could be a gifted gardener and keep your yard looking pristine -- or you could use technology. Several companies are using the cloud to perfect the science of lawn-watering.
My husband and I live in San Francisco. The lawn in our backyard is the size of a coffee table.
We still can't keep the grass alive and well-groomed.
It's a travesty. We've actually decided to switch to artificial grass. That's how much faith we have in our gardening skills.
Most people use automated sprinklers that operate using basic timers. They water your garden rain or shine. Sometimes they water your sidewalk, too -- in other words, far from fool-proof.
If you're as hopeless at horticulture as the Das Family, there's another option: smart sprinklers.
There are a few players in the market: Cyber-rain, Rain Bird & HydroPoint all offer smart sprinkler systems, which take into account plant type and use weather data and sensors to make sure you don't waste a single drop of precious, expensive water. That's a big deal here in California.
School districts seem to be popular smart sprinkler customers. It makes perfect sense, actually: not only must suburban schools keep acres of grass green for student activities and sports, they're also eternally cash-strapped.
Cyber-rain claims that it's controllers will save the Sulphur Springs School District in Santa Clarita, Calif. $32,000 this year. And the Campbell Union School District in Campbell, Calif. trimmed $108,000 from its annual water bill when it installed a Hydropoint system in 2009.
That's quite a bit more than a bake sale could raise.
We recently interviewed Chris Spain, the chief executive of HydroPoint, which makes the WeatherTRAK system.
To install it at your home, you have to buy a controller, which looks a little like a smaller version of the electrical panel you might find in your garage. The units are typically installed outside in your yard, near your home. Customers must also pay a monthly subscription.
Spain explained to us that WeatherTRAK uses cloud computing technology, taking into account specific features of your landscape -- from soil type to slope and water runoff to location-specific weather data -- to figure out exactly how much water to use.
If that's what it takes to keep your garden looking lush and lovely, it's no wonder I've failed. What technology do you use to make your garden grow?
Jun 7, 2012
Dear Bill, It was great reading your post to hear that you are still above the lawn and not below it. You are one very elusive person to find on the radar. Regards Brendan
Sumi's mini-lawn doesn't consume much water no matter what sprinkler it has. Many of us living in less constricted areas than SF have far larger lawns that consume large quantities of water. Smart sprinklers would help but lots of drinking water would still be used on lawns that serve no function. (Most people don't have young children & the ones that do usually have them play in back yards) Better to replace water hungry grass with native plants that consume less water to begin with.
OK; first, let's state the obvious, the "I've being idolizing you", since I was bringing real-time video of my 465 lb. pussy-cat; "Qadesh", lounging on the bed whilst my then 4 year-old son Justin was clambering all over her to Leo & ZTV back in '97/'98 - too true, but let's get back to the subject at hand: growing grass (the lawn type, that is). All that is required is to turn on the sprinkler (preferably in the wee hours of the morning) whenever the grass looses it's resilience - that is, the property of 'springing back' after having been trod upon.... let the sprinkler run until it fills a empty tuna tin, about 1". That's it, that's all it takes, trust me. By the way, Justin is about to turn 17 and experiences an emotional estrogen meltdown each and every time he even SEES a kitty-cat of any description. Take care, enjoy the green coffee table. Bill Frazer, 'TigermanQadesh'