But they are also handy for anyone who’s very busy, travels a lot, owns a second home or is a gardening perfectionist. And techno-help is more affordable than you might think.
Robotic mowers are very popular.Think of a giant tortoise with a synthetic shell, trundling up and down your lawn, munching the grass, then returning to its “kennel” to dock and recharge its batteries.
There’s no need to wait until the grass needs cutting – you can programme the beast to come out every day so the lawn always looks manicured (though you won’t get even stripes).When cut this frequently, the clippings are so short they disappear into the turf, so there’s no raking up or grass box to empty (on-board sensors will tell it to stay inside if it’s raining).
It takes a bit of setting up initially – you need to sink a wire round the area where you want it to cut and encircle any trees or island beds in the way – but it automatically avoids obstacles such as your sun lounger. Prices can be from £350 to £2,500.
Some versions can tackle large lawns and even rough grass up to six inches long.
An automatic irrigation system saves hours of hand-watering and is particularly handy for vegetable plots, greenhouse border soil and container displays.
An outdoor tap is essential – connect it to a “water computer” (which is actually a battery-operated timing device that switches water on and off at preset times).This then supplies the irrigation pipes laid out round plants, beds or pots to be watered.
Use drip irrigation to water containers – each pot gets its own drip nozzle – or a leaky hose that lets water seep out all along its length to keep a veg patch or flower bed moist.
Solar-powered watering systems use solar pumps to draw liquid from a water butt so you can use them where there’s no outdoor tap – on the allotment or down the garden – with a monitor that sounds a warning when water levels run too low.
The hydropod cuttings propagator is a closed case that keeps humidity so high that cuttings have virtually no choice but to take root, with individual cuttings fitted into sponge holders and a nutrient-rich mist sprayed over the base of shoots.
No compost is involved and you can choose unheated or heated models.The unit costs from £54 to £155, depending on size, power and whether you want it heated or not.
The most hi-tech indoor growing system ever, for the real technology lover, must be the Click and Grow from California.
The heart of the system is a trough of Smart Soil (inspired by NASA) with a chamber structure containing hi-tech feed that’s released when plants need it.
In this you can grow a range of culinary herbs, sugar plant (stevia) or mini tomato or chilli plants, or a range of flowering plants including busy lizzie, coleus and cockscomb.
The whole thing is controlled by software, using sensors to control irrigation and the daylight cycle and compensate for changing temperatures.
All you have to do is plug it in and switch on, then refill the water compartment every three to six weeks.
An indicator on the front will remind you when it needs doing.
If you are the man or woman who has everything and you live in a flat with no garden access, you might be very glad of it.
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