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The Skydrop Smart Watering Sprinkler Controller monitors local weather in real time via Wi-Fi and delivers water only when and where needed.
The Skydrop Smart Watering Sprinkler Controller monitors local weather in real time via Wi-Fi and delivers water only when and where needed.

Aug. 22, 2016 | Miles Durie

Summer tech

Cool backyard tools that turn up the heat this season

A6Ahh, summer in the city. What a great time to be a homeowner, right? Step out your door and survey your domain, listen to the birds, smell the flowers and greenery — then plan your evening barbecue.

But wait. There's a flipside to all that. Did you water the lawn and garden? Does it need mowing before you can enjoy it? Better get it done, because tonight you're going to have to hover over the grill to make sure your steaks are done to perfection, while your friends and family enjoy the results of your backyard labour.

Well, we all know technology can't solve every problem, but it can certainly help reduce the stress and time you devote to looking after your outdoor living space.

Here are some examples worth checking out:

The Skydrop Smart Watering Sprinkler Controller is a state-of-the-art unit that has you covered when it comes to efficient watering. It monitors local weather in real time via Wi-Fi and delivers water only when and where needed. The Skydrop can look after things on its own, but it also comes with a smartphone app that lets you check its status and control it remotely.

If its Wi-Fi connection goes down, it will continue to water based on established patterns. The Utah-based maker says setup is simple and physical connections take about 10 minutes.

Cool feature: If you have a Nest smart thermostat with Nest Protect installed, it can trigger the Skydrop to crank on the water outdoors if it detects a fire in the house — a thoughtful touch that could reduce damage and stop flames from spreading.

The Skydrop, which received an "Excellent" rating from PC Magazine, is available in Calgary from Naiad Irrigation Systems.


Automated lawnmowers like the Husqvarna Automower line can keep your lawn in top shape with little effort and almost no time. The original robotic mower, the Automower has big wheels to cope with uneven surfaces, and mows in a random pattern inspired by how sheep graze. These babies are so quiet you can run them overnight.

And they're efficient and practical — you just need to bury or lay down a guide wire around the perimeter of your mowing area. They'll stop and reverse if they detect an obstacle, such as a rock, a tree or your dog. The higher-end models also use GPS navigation.

Cool feature: When the Automower's battery is getting low, it automatically returns to its charging station for a top-up.

Available in Calgary from Alberta Forest & Garden.


Want to max out the chilling and keep on grilling? Then you need a remote cooking thermometer such as the Weber iGrill 2 Bluetooth Wireless Thermometer. It includes multiple probes so you can keep an eye on different temperatures, and can communicate with a smartphone app so you know what's going on "under the hold" from across the yard.

Cool feature: The iGrill puts your phone to shame with its 200-hour battery life.

Available in Calgary at Barbecues Galore.

Now all you need is a thumping all-weather Bluetooth speaker like the Outdoor Tech Big Turtle Shell, available from Chapters-Indigo, and you're living the dream.

Miles Durrie's Digital Downlow column appears exclusively in CREB®Now biweekly. Questions? Story suggestions? Email

Tagged: backyard | Calgary Real Estate | Calgary Real Estate News | Digital Downlow | Guest Column | Home and garden | home tech | Technology | YYCRE

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