From smart locks and security cams to programmable lights and all sorts of intelligent appliances, smart devices can automate a whole lot of chores inside your home. But, all that automation and connectivity don’t have to be limited to the space between the front door and the back door. In fact, there’s a growing range of AI-powered, connected gadgets that can bring the same smarts to your backyards and gardens, making erstwhile boring chores just that much easier while creating a more comfortable space.
Here are some of our favorites.
Philips Hue Calla
Styled like a small post, this upright outdoor light can be set down on any flat surface, making it dead-easy to set up, while being able to shine in any of 16 million colors to match the aesthetics of your outdoor space. You can use it much like any bollard light, such as brightening up patio space, illuminating walkways, and highlighting areas of your garden’s landscaping, except it’s programmable, with millions of colors on tap. It integrates seamlessly with other Philips Hue products, of course, making it easy to sync and coordinate all your installed smart lighting. Do note, it’s not battery powered, so you’ll need to plug in to a standard power source, with the included power supply allowing you to connect up to five units at a time.
If you prefer doing away with wires for your bollard lighting, this 17-inch pole light comes with a rechargeable battery that’s replenished using solar power (just make sure it’s exposed to sunlight during the day), sparing you from having to run a line to the nearest power outlet. While it doesn’t have the multi-color LEDs of Philips’ bollard light, its 80-lumen light provides an elegant down-lit glow that’s ideal for accent lighting, all while being easy to operate and program using the companion app. It has a motion sensor that can turn it on when it detects movement nearby, as well as a light sensor that ensures it doesn’t waste battery during the day.
This affordable floodlight has a built-in motion sensor that can be triggered from up to 40 feet away, allowing it to switch on its full 1200-lumens of brightness even when movement happens a fair distance from its location, making it great as a security lighting fixture. It screws into any standard E26 socket and works with a variety of hubs (including its own), all while coming with a companion app that allows you to easily set a lighting schedule. As with any proper outdoor light, it’s IP65 waterproof, heat-resistant, and frost-resistant, making it viable for use through all four seasons.
If you went through the trouble of installing a multiple underground sprinkler system to keep your lawn green and lush, you may as well install a controller to manage their watering schedule. It can handle the operations for up to 8 or 16 sprinkler zones, depending on the model you choose, with a plug-and-play design that allows for straightforward installation (the outfit claims it installs in 30 minutes or less). Designed to work with a companion app, it will let you know whenever it’s about to turn on the sprinklers via an alert (so you can turn it off if you’d rather not), while a weather intelligence system keeps it from turning on whenever there’s rain, snow, or strong wind in your area.
This connected device installs between your spigot and your garden hose, similar to traditional hose timers. Unlike them, it connects to your home network via Wi-Fi, allowing you to stop and start the water flow remotely, as well as program schedules, through the companion app. It monitors water flow the entire time, by the way, making it easy to track how much water you’re using each time out. The whole thing powers via a pair of AA batteries.
In case you’re using HomeKit, chances are, you’re still waiting for the integration Orbit promised for their B-Hyve. If you don’t want to wait, you can opt for this hose controller, which is designed specifically for Apple’s ecosystem. It allows remote operation, lets you program schedules, and keeps a record of your water consumption, all while connecting directly to your iOS device via Bluetooth (no bridge or gateway needed).
Want to automate your lawn mowing tasks? This entry-level robo-mower from Worx offers the best balance of function and price, bringing most of the features found in high-end robo-mowers at around half the cost. It can manage mowing autonomously up to a quarter of an acre, although you’ll need to manually lay down the boundary wire, so the robot knows exactly the area it needs to cut, all while handling upward slopes of up to 20 degrees and maneuvering around obstacles all on its own.
You can manually control the robot’s operation via the companion app, where you can also monitor its current progress at any time. You can also set mowing schedules from the app, which can make recommendations based on your yard size and conditions. It’s weather-resistant, by the way, allowing it to withstand the elements, although it needs the ground the be dry if it’s going to mow effectively, so it will return to its charging dock whenever it’s raining or when it detects wet ground.
A feature-rich security camera, this battery-powered camera can shoot 2K video with HDR and a 160-degree field of view, ensuring clear and undistorted video of every scene you’re filming. Even better, it can shoot in color even at night, so you can see details from a distance even when capturing footage in the dark. It has a motion sensor for detecting movement in the backyard, a spotlight for warding off unwelcome intruders, and compatibility with multiple platforms and third-party devices.
The rechargeable onboard battery means it installs with no need for any hardwiring, although you will need to recharge it every few months (you will be notified via the app) or install a compatible solar panel to keep it powered. Do note, you’ll need to subscribe to the outfit’s Arlo Smart plan for advanced features like advanced object detection, rich notifications, and 30 days of recorded video.
Got a shed or a workshop in the backyard where you keep sharp tools that you don’t want the kids playing with? Lock it down with this Bluetooth-enabled padlock that can be opened with a mobile app, a fingerprint, or a custom Morse code, whichever you prefer. It has a rechargeable battery that holds a full year’s worth of charge, while the database allows you to keep up to 500 fingerprints to allow access for multiple people.
This smart pellet grill can eliminate much of the busywork involved in grilling, handling everything from feeding hardwood pellets to the tray and igniting it to maintaining cooking temperatures and monitoring doneness. Equipped with Wi-Fi, it lets you set temperature and cooking times from the companion app, so you can make any adjustments on the fly, all while letting you choose recipes from a huge database. It controls everything, from the amount of pellets that enter the tray and the fan it uses to feed the flame to the amount of smoke delivered, ensuring food is cooked perfectly every time. The whole thing has 1300 square inches of grilling area, too, allowing you to cook a whole load of food in one go.
Don’t want to buy a new grill just to get connectivity and automation? Use this Wi-Fi-enabled hub from Weber that sticks to the side of any grill and supports up to four plug-in probe thermometers. With the device onboard, you can monitor up to four food portions simultaneously, either from the integrated screen or remotely via the companion app. You can set a desired level of doneness from the app, allowing it to monitor the food to your exact specification and notify you whenever you need to flip it over.
This IP64-rated power strip connects to your home network over Wi-Fi, allowing you to control its two power outlets individually either from your smartphone or a compatible intelligent assistant (Google Assistant and Alexa). It’s programmable, so you can schedule when to turn the power on and off, with support for groups, so you can switch multiple outlets on and off at the same time.
Yes, this Wi-Fi extender isn’t exactly a smart device. If you’re going to bring smart gadgets to the backyard, though, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got strong internet signal there at all times. This IP66-rated device can be mounted up a wall, allowing you to extend your tri-band Wi-Fi coverage by up to 2,500 square feet.