While there has been a lot about this past year most of us would rather forget, one of the good things to come out of it was the newfound appreciation for what we have around us.
For those of us lucky to have any form of outdoor space at home, we have spent more time in it than ever, and as lockdown begins to ease and we can get together with friends and family in these spaces once again, making it the best it can be has never been more important.
As ever, tech companies are right on hand with gadgets to help us get our gardens and outdoor spaces working smarter and looking better. We love cool gadgets, so we’ve pulled together some of our favourites here to give you some inspiration.
From gardening tools, like robot lawnmowers and smart sprinkler systems to gadgets that simply make our gardens more enjoyable places to be, such as smart speakers and al-fresco cooking kits, our pick of the best garden tech you can buy will help you to get prepared for those post-lockdown garden parties now.
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12 innovative gadgets for the garden
Innr Outdoor Smart Lighting
For the get-togethers that go on long into the evening, Innr’s range of outdoor smart lighting should help to keep the party going past sunset.
Choose from pedestal lights, spot lights and lighting strips for a setup that works for your space, then control them all using the Innr app on your phone.
This allows you to choose when they come on, programme an automated schedule, build your lighting into a smart home routine and choose what colour you want them to be. You can even adjust them using your voice with Alexa or Google Assistant.
They work on the Zigbee protocol, so you’ll need a control hub that support this. Some of Amazon’s more recent Echo family, like the 4th Generation Echo, the Echo Studio and the Echo Show 10, already have Zigbee support built in, but otherwise installing the Philips Hue Bridge or Samsung SmartThings Hub will do the trick.
Innr’s range of lights come in groups of three but can be expanded up to 10 using one control box, or use several different control boxes if you’d like to control different lights separately. With a bit of tech know-how they’re easy enough to install, but will require an outside plug, so that’s the only bit you’ll need an electrician for.
Pedestal three-light kit: £149.99, Innr.com
Gardenature smart bird box
For the tech-loving birdwatcher, a smart bird box is perfect for getting to know the feathered friends inhabiting your garden. Gardenature do a few different options, but we like the range of IP camera bird boxes, which can stream live HD video from inside the birdbox to your phone or tablet.
You’ll usually need to run a single cable from the birdbox back to your router, but if you have outdoor mains power a bit closer – in a shed or outbuilding – the company also sell powerline adapters that can push your internet signal through your electrical ring main and saves you running cables for metres and metres.
From £145, Gardenature.co.uk
Sonos Move portable speaker
Sonos has been one of the best multi-room systems you can buy for your home for some time. However, as its speakers have always been reliant on Wi-Fi and mains power, the garden has been left out of the party.
That is, until recently. The Sonos Move is a portable speaker that can be used inside and outside the house, thanks to having both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.
That means that when you are within your home’s Wi-Fi, it can be used as part of your multi-room system, or you can use it with Bluetooth away from the home and stream directly from your phone.
It offers 10 hours of wire-free playback, is waterproof to IP56 and has a handy handle for carrying it where you need. When it’s time to charge it, just pop it back on its charging ring and it’ll be fully charged in three hours.
As you’d expect from Sonos, it sounds fantastic, helped along by the Move’s Auto Trueplay functionality. This learns a little about the environment it’s playing in and adjusts the sound to make sure it’s sounding its best.
It’s on the pricey side compared to some other wireless speakers but its performance more than justifies it – particularly if you’re looking to set up a multi-room system in your home.
Looking for something smaller and cheaper? The Sonos Roam has just recently been announced, and costs £159.
Sonos Move: £379, Sonos.com
Sonos Roam: £159, Sonos.com
Anker Nebula Mars II projector
For summer movies al fresco, why not invest in a portable projector like the Anker Nebula Mars II.
We like the Mars II because it has everything you need it to in a single box, making it really simple to get started. That means you can expect built-in Wi-Fi for access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, a decent enough speaker for sound and a rechargeable battery that’ll give it four hours of runtime away from a plug.
Set up is straightforward too, with automatic focusing and keystone correction, so all you need to do is point it at a blank wall and let the projector do the rest. It’s capable of projecting a picture up to 100 inches with a resolution of 720p HD, though we’d recommend keeping it smaller than that for the best picture.
We’d also suggest waiting until it’s as dark as possible to kick off the movie. The light output is only 300 lumens so it isn’t going to be the brightest picture you’ve ever seen, but with convenience and ease-of-use on its side, it’s perfect for adding a bit more fun into those summer nights.
Cooper Cooler drink cooler
Ice cold drinks are a must on a warm day, but when the fridge is full of food from the BBQ and you’ve got thirsty guests, you might find your fridge space you have available is unable to keep up with the demand.
Whether it’s a can of Coke, a beer or a bottle of wine, the Cooper Cooler will take your warm beverage and make it ice cold in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is load it up with ice and water, choose the drink you want to chill and set it going.
The Cooper Cooler will rotate your drink (gently – there’ll be no explosions once you remove it from the cooler) and spray it with ice cold water to get it to the same low temperature throughout. The result is a fridge-cool beer in a minute, or a bottle of wine in around six minutes. Absolute game changer.
Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub
Summer time means BBQ time, and if you’re in charge of the cooking, you’ll know the pressure of getting the meat cooked just right.
BBQ kings Weber have thankfully come up with a clever bit of tech that means you can get it spot on every time, and also give you a bit of freedom away from standing next to the grill.
The Weber Connect acts as a step-by-step barbecuing assistant, keeping you in the know when the burgers need flipping and sausages need turning.
It comes with two probes for placing into the meat you’re cooking, but can host an additional two to keep an eye on four different pieces of meat at any one time. These will monitor the temperature of the meat and, with the Weber Connect app, will walk you step-by-step for getting it cooked right every time, including different guidelines depending on how you want it cooked.
It works over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and can work with your current BBQ, so no need for an overly expensive overhaul to tech-up your BBQing.
Ooni Koda 12 pizza oven
BBQs might be the king of the summertime feast, but eating proper stone-baked pizza al fresco? Count us in.
The Ooni Koda 12 is a gas-powered pizza oven that is ready to go out of the box and much less faff than messing around with wood or charcoal. All you need to do is hook it up to the gas, pop in the accompanying stone-baking board and you’ll be ready to cook in it within 15 minutes.
Reaching temperatures of up to 500°C, it’ll cook your home-crafted pizzas in just 60 seconds so there’s no dilly dallying either.
Of course you don’t have to stop there – you can also use the Ooni Koda 12 for roasting fish or vegetables and cooking steaks if that takes your fancy. The adjustable heat control dial allows you to set it to temperatures that will work for the food at hand.
Once you’re finished cooking up a feast, pop the stone-baked board out for cleaning, fold away the legs and the Ooni Koda 12 is nice and compact for easy storage in a shed, or even in your kitchen.
£299.99, Ooni Koda
Kitsound Diggit 55 speaker
If you’re looking for a more affordable Bluetooth speaker to set the soundtrack to your BBQs, the Kitsound Diggit 55 is made for the great outdoors – quite literally.
It comes with a removable stake for sticking it into the ground, 360-degree sound from dual opposing drivers for spreading your music in all directions, and an Outdoor EQ Mode that gives the volume and bass a little boost to better suit an outside environment.
Want a more expansive sound? Buy two and you can simply tap them together to create a stereo pair for a more immersive soundscape.
It has tough IP55 resistance to dust and water, a 15-hour battery life and an LED downlight for adding a bit of a glow to your night-time garden party. Its wooden design looks the part too, so it is stylish enough to be taken inside when you retire for the evening.
Flymo Easilife 200 mower
Mowing the lawn is arguably one of the most tedious gardening jobs there is. It always needs doing when you’d rather be doing something else, which is why it inevitably slips down the to-do list, usually until you’ve got guests coming over.
Getting a robot lawnmower to take on the task is a bit of a no brainer then, but much like robot vacuums, it’s taken a bit of time for them to work well and be worth the outlay. Thankfully, the Flymo Easilife 200 is the company’s second generation of robot devices, and its experience shows.
As with all robot lawnmowers, the setup is where the main bulk of the work is required, and you’ll need to spend some time laying guide and boundary wires so the lawnmower knows where it should and shouldn’t go.
Once that’s done though, you can set up a schedule or have the lawnmower suggest one for you that’s based on the size of your garden. You can do this on the unit itself or using its companion smartphone app.
Set it to go early in the morning and you’ll never see it in action, but always have pristine grass that’s visitor-ready.
Gardena smart irrigation control
Keeping your garden watered is important if you want to keep it looking its best. There are two ways of doing that – standing there for hours with a hose or setting up a sprinkler system to do it for you.
The Gardena Smart System takes the hassle out of keeping your lawns and flowerbeds watered, with a healthy dose of tech. There are a few different parts to the system depending on exactly how green-fingered you want to be, but the sprinkler works through a smart gateway that connects to your router via ethernet or Wi-Fi, and then the water control unit, which you connect to your outside tap.
Once all hooked up and connected to your Wi-Fi, you can control the system via an app on your phone. You can choose to start the watering manually, or you can set it up on a schedule to start automatically. You can even take it one step further and add one of Gardena’s smart sensors to your setup, which can judge when your soil is getting too dry and make the decision on when to water by itself.
From £250, Gardena.com
Arlo Ultra security camera
A security camera is a must if you’re interested on keeping an eye on your home when you’re not able to – and that includes the garden, where intruders may try to enter your property or shed. Not all cameras are cut out for the great outdoors though, so there are a few things to think about, like weatherproofing, power and picture resolution.
The Arlo Ultra is a fantastic option – it can be used indoors and outdoors thanks to its durability and is convenient to fit thanks to it being completely wireless. Even better, you get two cameras in the pack, so you can cover off your inside and outside security in one.
Getting it set up is simple – all you need to do is connect the hub station to your router and the rest is wire free. The battery in each camera should last 3-6 months, depending on usage, and is fully charged again in 3.5 hours.
Video can be recorded at up to 4K resolution so pictures should be crystal clear and there’s a security light built in to each camera that’s triggered by motion, to give its excellent night vision a helping hand if needed. There’s even a siren you can sound remotely from your phone – just in case you spot something you don’t like.
The app is stacked with features to help tailor the camera to suit your needs, but a lot of the more in-depth functionality comes as part of Arlo Smart – Arlo’s advanced security subscription (free for the first year then from £2.49/month).
It’s worth it. With Arlo Smart, the cameras can tell the difference between humans, animals and vehicles and can tailor its notifications to suit. That means you can choose to only be notified if it spots a human, for example, rather than pinging your phone with an alert every time the neighbour’s cat passes through your garden.
From £447, Arlo.com
Masterlock Biometric padlock
Keeping our gardens safe is as important as keeping our homes safe, but so many of us often neglect to secure sheds and outbuildings with the same consideration as we would our front door. When you consider expensive items like tools, lawnmowers and bikes are often kept here, they can be a target for criminals – so security is important.
Masterlock is a company that specialises in security products and we really love the techy edge that they’ve added into a range of their products for flexibility and convenience. This is the biometric padlock that saves you the faff of remembering where you left the keys, with fingerprint unlocking. You can store up to 10 fingerprints too, so all the family can get access – plus there is a keypad, for combination unlocking in case of any problems.
Of course it’s fully weatherproof, and has a super-secure body that is resistant to sawing and cutting. The battery will last for a year, and when you need to change it, it’s just a standard CR2 battery you’ll need to replace it.
This biometric model will cost £129, so considerably more expensive than a standard padlock of course, but we love it for the security and convenience. It’s also pretty bulky, so no chance of losing it!