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Dig in! Spring's must-have garden tech products

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The Glowpear Urban Garden Standard Planter is a low-maintenance container with an integrated self-watering system and built-in drip tray to ensure indoor or outdoor surfaces don’t get water damage.

Spring has sprung, and gardening enthusiasts around the country are rolling up their sleeves, ready to dig in!

However, this year, digging in might be more like plugging in, if some of the new garden-tech companies have their way.

From completely hands-free watering systems to DIY planting kits that make traditional gardening easier, here are some of the best products blossoming in the garden-tech market this year.

Planters

For patio gardening, the Glowpear Urban Garden Standard Planter is a stylish, low-maintenance container gardening product. This chic raised bed has an integrated self-watering system with a built-in drip tray to ensure indoor or outdoor surfaces do not get water damage.

The containers can be connected together to form lush lines or corners, perfect for use in lobbies or around patio edges. Each 29.5″ planter retails for $ 139.04 with free shipping on Amazon.

If you love the look and convenience of outdoor raised garden beds, but are not the DIY building type, Garden In Minutes, as the name implies, has a great line of raised bed kits.

Each kit includes an easy-to-assemble Cedar Raised Garden Bed that’s easy enough to put together with your five-year-old, as a no-tools-needed quick after-school project. They also come with a Garden Grid watering system, a planting guide, a garden hose timer, a water flow valve, and organic starter seeds.

The best part is that these kits, which begin at $ 130, are expandable and stackable, so you can create the perfect size and shape garden beds as your passion for home grown fruits, vegetables and flowers grows.

Want to do some indoor gardening? Why have a regular planter when you could have a planter-aquarium mash-up?

The AquaSprouts Garden, as the manufacturer notes: “turns any standard 10-gallon aquarium (20″ x 10″ x 12″) into a self-sustaining ecosystem, using the beauty of aquaponics.”

In this system, the fish produce waste and the plants use that waste as nutrients while cleaning the water for the fish. The company suggests using the kit to grow leafy greens and herbs while engaging kids with the aquarium.

It is even creating specialized STEM educational curricula to incorporate aquaponics into everyday classrooms. Available for $ 169.95 with free shipping (fish not included).

Watering Systems

Manrique Brenes, the Blossom Smart Watering Controller’s CEO and Founder, is an avid inventor — with 14 patents and ten pending — who has worked at both Skype and Cisco in product development.

His latest product, Blossom, brings that tech savvy outside. This sprinkler controller “conserves water, significantly reduces water utility bills and gives users direct control from their smartphones or tablets.”

Blossom helps ensure your garden uses only the amount of water it needs based on real-time weather conditions to create an optimized watering schedule. Available at The Home Depot, Amazon, SmartHome.com and MyBlossom.com.

Another new product in the smart home garden category is Rachio, which bills itself as “the Nest for your lawn.”

It’s a smart sprinkler that connects to your WiFi to read weather patterns, humidity levels and automatically turn your sprinklers on and off when your lawn actually needs watering.

The second generation version integrates with the Nest thermostat and Amazon Echo, so you can say “Alexa, turn off my sprinklers” without moving from the couch. (The only downside is that your four-year-old can say it too.)

The first generation model without this integration is still available, costs $ 100 less and can still save you 30% on your watering bill.

The PlantLink sensors and app system lets you know when your plants need water before they wilt and die.

The PlantLink sensors and app system lets you know when your plants need water before they wilt and die.

Hoses

For years, garden hoses all looked about the same — long, green and heavy. Then came the Pocket Hose — a collapsible extremely light-weight hose that was billed as “the lawn care breakthrough that changed garden hoses forever.”

This season’s consumer favorite boasts new brass connectors that are built like fire hose connectors and are three times more durable than the original fittings.

The company has also added a new “Solar Stripe Shield” that protects the hose from damaging UV rays and extends its life outdoors.

In short, the best hose on the market just got better. Available in a variety of lengths from $ 19.49 from Pocket Hose.

If you live in a drought-prone area, you are probably already aware of the benefits of drip irrigation, which, according to the EPA, uses 20-50% less water than pop-up sprinklers.

For some, the desire to convert to a drip system is there, but the nuts and bolts of installing a drip system can feel overwhelming.

If you fall into this category, Water Wise Now (which offers lots of great free e-books and worksheets on their website) provides an all-in-one-box kit with everything you need to transition your property to cost effective drip irrigation.

The kits come in 250, 500 and 1,000 square-foot bundles. In addition to all of the supplies you’ll need, they include a detailed guide with photos and a free 30 minutes telephone support consultation, if needed. Learn more at Switch2Drip.com.

Plants and seeds

The point of technology is to make tasks easier. For those who want a garden without the hassle of planning, buying and transporting flowers, highcountrygardens.com makes plug-and-play pre-planned gardens, complete with plants, a planting map and care instructions.

As they say, “We do everything but dig the holes.” You can sort their products by zone and by type (e.g., butterfly attracting). Their beautiful and practical pre-planned gardens start at just $ 44.05 and they sell out every year, so order early.

Miracle-Gro is also taking a swing at the “plug-and-play” gardening market with their Gro-ables Seed Pods. The cone-shaped pods contain non-GMO seeds and the soil and nutrients package the plants need to get established.

Sold individually or in sets, like their popular salad and herb garden kit, which has 18 pods for $ 22.62 on Amazon).

Apps and sensors

South by Southwest (SXSW) festival goers this month got to demo a new gardening app by consumer lawn care and gardening giant Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The new app, called Connected Yard, “suggests interesting and fun project ideas, and gives people great advice on what to do, and how to do it, based on their exact location and the time of year,” according to Patti Ziegler, the company’s Chief Digital and Marketing Services Officer.

The system encourages you to wire up your garden for more information. They offer compatible irrigation and plant sensors for the platform, and, as they say, “the more you connect, the more you Gro.” Available at getgro.com.

Another sensor and app system that is gaining traction is PlantLink, which lets you know when your plants need water before they wilt and die.

The PlantLink Sensors ($ 58.88 with base station and $ 39.94 by themselves) provide simple watering recommendations and their latest product, Valve (coming this June), will then water the plants automatically.

From easy to construct boxes to full-scale irrigation systems linked to your phone, this season’s gardening innovations are “coming up roses.”

Kate L. Harrison is a best-selling author, founder and entrepreneur who built and sold the leading green wedding brand in the country, Green Bride Guide. She has a JD in Environmental Law from Pace and a Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale. Today, Kate is a startup branding and marketing consultant who specializes in helping small scrappy companies and non-profits connect with eco-conscious consumers while increasing their bottom lines. She writes about green products, new technology, and online marketing strategy for a variety of publications including the New York Daily News, Forbes, and Inc.com. Find her on Twitter at @kate_l_harrison and learn more on her website katelharrison.com.

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