The Brainiacs of Irrigation Timers
How close are we to living in a Jetson's futureworld? When it comes to irrigation technology, pretty darn close. "Smart controllers" represent the next wave of irrigation hardware. These marvels of technology readjust themselves based on real-time weather information, though the approach varies between manufacturers.

One type of controller comes with a mini-weather station that uses on-site temperature, wind, sun, and humidity information to continually adjust the controller. You set a baseline program by telling the gizmo what kind of plants each station will be watering (lawn, shallow-rooted perennials, woody shrubs, etc.) and the type of soil you have. Then the clock figures out how long and how frequently to run each zone. If it gets hotter and drier, the weather station tells the device to increase the frequency and duration of each irrigation cycle. If it's cool and foggy, everything is dialed back. Pretty simple!

The more space-age approach uses satellite / wireless technology to read information from sophisticated weather stations in your area and adjust the timer accordingly.

Most estimates conservatively claim 20% to 50% water reductions, yet plants are generally healthier because the system assures that when you do water, you're properly soaking the entire root profile of the plants.

In Santa Barbara, the local water agencies have been offering rebates for the purchase and installation of these devices.  You'd be wise to check for a similar program where you live. Even if there's no rebate, the money you save on your water bill will more than make up for the initial expense.

A Few Examples:

Built In Weather Sensors
Weathermatic SmartLine -- "It's like a thermostat for your landscape."

Hunter Solar Sync
-- Built in mini-weather station calculates ET

Remote Weather Sensors
Rainbird ET Manager

Toro Intellisense 

One last bit: Susan Morrison is a blogging buddy who's also a brilliant landscape designer in the Bay Area. She wrote a few articles about her favorite smart controller, the Toro Intellisense. Click this and that for a quick read.

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