Smart Watering Tools the Garden Pros Use

Experts pick their top watering tools with tech integration

Fine Gardening – Issue 212
watering tools
Photo: FG staff

There are a lot of watering gadgets, tools, and products out there. It’s always great to learn from another gardener’s experience, so we asked some gardening experts about their favorite smart-watering tool. Here’s what they said.


Andrew Brand

(Director of Horticulture, Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, Maine)

complete drip irrigation system

I recommend properly installed, maintained, and monitored drip irrigation systems that efficiently apply water at ground level as needed.

Rain Bird PATIOKIT Drip Irrigation Patio Watering Kit

- Complete 42-piece drip irrigation kit eliminates watering by hand
- Provides drip irrigation for up to 6 planters
- Easy to assemble: just attach to faucet, cut tubing and connect watering devices
- Attaches easily to your outdoor faucet or hose
Price: $21.97 at the time of writing


Brian Houck

(Head of Grounds and Gardens, Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

soil moisture probe

My suggestion is to use a soil moisture probe or meter to assess watering needs prior to watering. In my thinking, schedules are a recommendation, not a rule. Apply the right amount of water when needed.

XLUX Soil Moisture Meter

- Large and clear dial, including ten scales, plug and read
- Simply insert the moisture meter into soil and you'll get the test result instantly
- Single probe, less hurts to the roots, doesn't dig up too much soil after test
Price: $12.99 at the time of writing


Sam Schmitz

(Grounds Supervisor and Horticulturist, The Gardens at Ball, West Chicago, Illinois)

brass valves o-rings and nozzle

In order to have a few less things to worry about when your plants need water, equip yourself with heavy-duty and long-lasting hoses, brass valves, and nozzles. Also, have lots of rubber O-ring washers on hand to prevent leaky hose connections.

Dramm Revolution Adjustable 9-Pattern Metal Hose Nozzle

- 15 x 10 x 7 inches
- Ergonomic insulated grip
- Maximum pressure of 90 PSI
- Fully adjustable spray pattern
- No trigger lock
Price: $19.83 at the time of writing

Morvat Heavy Duty Brass Y-Valve

- Instantly create two tap outlets with this ultra-durable Y hose splitter. The dual-valve design features built-in shut-off valves.
- Fitted with US Standard NH 3/4" threads for use with most water source fittings
- Screw the 2 way splitter adapter by hand or wrench with the updated hexagonal top connection. The 360° rotatable swivel connection attaches to any water source.
Price: $11.49 at the time of writing

Gilmore Rubber Hose Washer 10pk

- Live red rubber construction, 3/4in. washers
- Clip of 10
Price: $2.23 at the time of writing


Mike Kintgen

(Curator of the Alpine Collection, Denver Botanic Garden, Denver)

I rely on Gilmour sprinklers for defined patterns that apply water efficiently to where I want it.

Gilmour 811673-1001 Sprinkler

- 43-ft. spray distance (up to 5, 800 sq. ft. coverage)
- Adjustable collar for partial- to full-circle coverage
- Dial precisely sets spray distance
- On/off switch eliminates trips from sprinkler to spigot
Price: $32.52 at the time of writing


Mark Dwyer

(Residential Landscape Consultant and Designer, Janesville, Wisconsin)

I’m a huge fan of the inexpensive, plastic Nelson Multi-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler with eight spray patterns. I attach a brass shut-off valve to modify volume as needed and use a brick or rock to anchor this sprinkler in target areas for directed coverage, particularly in smaller target areas that need a “refined touch.”

Nelson Multi-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler

- 8 Pre-Set Watering Patterns
- Impact-resistant, plastic base
- Soft grip on multi-pattern head
Price: $11.99 at the time of writing


Bill Quade

(Director of Horti­culture, Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina)

At Biltmore, we have started replacing many of our standard pop-up mist heads with multi-trajectory rotating nozzles in our irrigation systems. We have found that this increases efficiency as well as plants getting a more accurate amount of water, and it reduces waste. We also water when the plants need it, not on a specific schedule.

Hunter Industries MP-1000-90 Hunter Nozzle

- 8' to 15' radius with an adjustable arc of 90° to 210°, radius can be reduced by up to 25% to fit landscape needs
- Double-pop technology flushes the nozzle during start-up and shutdown to prevent clogging
- Wind-resistant, multi-directional streams provide even coverage
Price: $7.97 at the time of writing
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