Recently I was asked what is the best Automatic Sprinkler System. Being a guy that has been known to travel a lot and build some pretty Smart Homes I get questions like this often. This time it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Automatic sprinklers really don’t need that much thought or do they? Finding the best automatic sprinkler system turned out to be a fairly difficult task. My yard is quite small. Three zones in front, three zones in back. There is a small patch of grass in the back, a little more out front and two zones of drip systems in each area.
Living along the California coast, water isn’t exactly free, but on days like today when the fog rolls in there isn’t much need for watering plants either. My old Rain-Bird automatic timer had served me well for the past eight years or so but suddenly decided to only work in manual mode. That won’t cut it given my lifestyle.
As I started looking into commercial grade, and higher end residential systems, it became clear the best automatic sprinkler system was going to have some smart home features. The sprinklers don’t connect to my home control system, but the unit I chose has WiFi so it can check the weather and adjust the watering schedule accordingly.
Additionally, I looked for a system with an adjustable schedule that I could change remotely. If you are concerned about privacy, don’t access your system on the road. Making changes from my iPhone X is great.
After comparing several different automatic sprinkler controllers, a couple really started to stand out. Both came from the names you would expect. Rain-Bird and Orbit. There were at least a dozen others out there and for the money and availability, these two stood out. The Rain-Bird had an Alexa app, but given Alexa’s propensity to overshare, I didn’t use that as a selection criteria.
After looking at both of the apps and reading the reviews, I bought both units and very quickly returned the Rain-Bird. The software was easy to use, as was the Orbit, but the Orbit as 40% less expensive. So yes it came down to price. Maybe the Rain-Bird will last longer, and that is why the links for both of them are below.
The Orbit had a couple of features that really made it easy for me to set up a very custom schedule. One big problem I have is a large female dog that burns the grass in my backyard. The smart watering feature of the Orbit runs several short bursts to save water and let it soak into the soil so that the grass can grow deeper roots.
While that is great for my front yard, which looks so nice now that my aunt thought the grass was fake, it isn’t for the back. Instead of a deep watering every two to four days depending on the weather, I set it to do a short burst daily so that it can dilute the nitrogen my dog is spot applying.
Since changing the program, I have over seeded the burned out areas, and it is starting to come back. In a perfect world there would be a “female dog” setting or a “burn spot” setting that would do a deep water once or twice a week and a daily spot water to dilute the pet supplied nitrogen.
Maybe with the next update to the app?
For now, both of these are great systems that reduced my water consumption and helped improve the look and health of the grass and plants in my yard. If you are looking for the best automatic sprinkler system, you can’t go wrong with either of these.