Installing a smart sprinkler system for your yard is a simple way to cross one more thing off your weekly to-do list. The best smart sprinkler controllers have enough zones for your yard, access to local weather forecasts, and can be controlled with an app as well as smart home assistants.
Most smart sprinkler systems have multiple yard zones, which can be independently programmed to give your plants the right amount of water. According to Nicole Chernyakhovsky, owner of Larkspur Landscaping, this is important because “grass, trees, and shrubs’ water requirements differ from flower and vegetable gardens. Soil type, yard slope, sun exposure, and nozzle-head types also impact your water needs.”
To accommodate all these scenarios and help your plants thrive, you’ll need one zone for each area of your yard. Four-zone sprinkler controllers are usually fine for smaller yards with just grass and flower beds, while larger yards with a wider variety of plants could need as many as 16 zones.
To give your plants the perfect amount of water, no matter the weather, you’ll also want a smart sprinkler system that has access to local forecasts. Chernyakhovsky advises, “You can set your sprinklers to suspend watering during high winds, rains, low temperatures, or even based on the previous day's rainfall.” Some sprinkler systems use the closest weather stations to get a forecast, while others connect to sources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While smart sprinkler systems have many features, the best models are compatible with apps that make them easy to use, even when you’re not at home. Many systems have their own free apps that you can use to set schedules, control the sprinklers, record water usage data, and more. For even easier control, you may want to integrate your sprinkler system with your smart home assistant, so check your system’s compatibility before buying.
Check out this list of the best smart sprinkler systems to simplify and improve your home yard care.
1. The Best Overall
- Zones: 8 (also available in 16 zones)
- Smart assistant compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings
This top-rated smart sprinkler controller comes in both eight and 16 zone options, making it the perfect choice for medium- and large-sized yards. It can connect with over 300,000 weather stations for hyper-local and accurate forecasts, which will help prevent over-watering. With the Rachio app, you can turn the sprinklers on and off, set schedules, track water usage, and more. You can also connect this controller to a variety of smart hubs, including Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. This controller comes with a 6-foot power supply cord, mounting hardware, and a quick-start guide, so you can get it set up right out of the box. If you don’t have a good Wi-Fi signal near your sprinkler controller, you may want to upgrade to the kit that comes with a Wi-Fi extender to ensure that your sprinkler will always have a good connection.
One fan raved: “This is worth every penny! Ditch that old sprinkler system asap. You control this directly from your phone. It makes everything organized and convenient. This tracks the weather forecast and monitors for rainy days and freezing temps. You can create as many schedules as you want or simply turn on one station for however minutes that you prefer. It also has a map of your yard, so you can be truly organized and pinpoint precise locations. It is very easy to install.”
- Available options: 4
- Available sizes: 5
2. The Budget-Friendly Pick
- Zones: 8 (also available in 4 zones)
- Smart assistant compatibility: Amazon Alexa
You can keep your lawn well-watered without breaking the bank with this inexpensive smart sprinkler controller. Available in both four- and eight-zone options, it’s a great choice for small- and medium-sized lawns. You can control it with an iOS or Android app or on a web browser, and it stores your set programming, so it can keep working even if your Wi-Fi is not. This controller is approved by EPA WaterSense, which means that it is water-efficient and more environmentally friendly. It works with master valve and pump relay setups, however, the box is not water-resistant, so it must be kept inside or in a waterproof covering. It has a smart watering feature that works with local weather forecasts to prevent over-watering.
One fan raved: “We purchased one of these for the front yard as a trial [...] We were happy enough with our trial that we ordered a second controller for the backyard. I love that it puts itself on automatic delay based on the weather. I get a confirmation notification to my phone and apple watch that watering has completed. I've checked our cameras to verify that the yard did get watered, and all is good! Installation and setup was very easy.”
- Available sizes: 2
- Available options: 5
3. The System With A Built-In Security Camera
- Zones: 8
- Smart assistant compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
If you’re considering smart sprinklers and smart cameras, get the best of both with this smart sprinkler controller with a built-in camera. The HD camera is equipped with night vision, and you can set alerts to notify you when there’s movement in your yard or garage. The camera not only helps you keep an eye on your property, but can also be used with the sprinklers to scare off unwanted animals, which can be set to work automatically. This sprinkler uses realtime forecasts to adjust for rain, freezes, and more, and it can also monitor local water restrictions to keep you updated on the latest guidance.
One fan raved: “I've been thinking about putting a camera in my garage. One day a friend mentioned Yardian to me, and I was pleasantly surprised to know that with Yardian, I can upgrade my existing sprinkler controller to a WiFi/smart version with a camera in one single device! After some research on the web, I decided to purchase Yardian [...] I like Yardian a lot, and I highly recommend it. It's really a "smart" device that needs no effort to set up and maintain.”
4. The System With A Touch Screen
- Zones: 16 (also available in 12 zones)
- Smart assistant compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest, WINK, SmartThings via IFTTT, and Apple HomeKit
Sometimes it’s easiest to be able to adjust your sprinklers directly from your smart controller’s interface in addition to using an app, which is how this touch screen smart sprinkler system works. The 6.5-inch touch screen can be used to turn on the sprinklers, program schedules, check the forecast, and more, and it also has an ultra-bright display, so you can use it at night or in a dark garage. You can control this sprinkler with the iOS or Android app, or through voice control with a variety of smart home assistants. To get the most accurate forecasts, this system uses multiple weather sources, including NOAA, and downloads the forecasts every six hours so it’s always up to date. If you want to save water, this sprinkler is also a good option because it is EPA WaterSense certified.
One fan raved: “If you have sprinklers, you are doing yourself and the environment a disservice by not having a Rain Machine! It waters the correct amount, every time, based on the (very) local weather. This is my second Rain Machine (I added more zones so needed the “16”) and last year (2020) in a NY summer, I saved over 80,000 gallons of water, instead of “just running” my sprinklers everyday (I have 2 acres of property) Worth every penny and I hooked it up by myself ( and I’m not all that handy)”
- Available sizes: 2
Nicole Chernyakhovsky, owner of Larkspur Landscaping