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Edyn smart garden probe review: A promising idea that falls short on delivery

Michael Brown | June 24, 2015
Gardening can be a relaxing experience, especially when you get to sit back and admire the view of an established landscape. But as any experienced gardener will tell you, planting and maintaining a garden can also be exhausting, frustrating, and expensive--especially when things don't go right. You're admiring your beautiful plants on Sunday, and next thing you know, they're yellow, wilted, or dead. The Edyn smart garden system promises to help you take better care of your plants with a probe that monitors your garden's immediate environment, and a water valve that automatically waters your plants when the probe reports they need it. I'll review the probe here; the valve won't be available until later this year.

When I went to install a second Edyn in a flowerbed on the south side of my house, I discovered that the Android version of the app can support only one probe. The Android app also lacks a plant database that makes recommendations as to which types of plants would perform best in the area where the probe is located (each probe can monitor an area of about 250 square feet). The company tells me these shortcomings will be fixed in a future software update; but for now, Edyn works much better with iPhones than it does Android models. I ended up leaving the north-side garden connected to my Android phone, and I connected the south-side garden to an iPod touch.

The south-side garden, which is planted almost exclusively in shrubs and native grasses, gets sunlight almost continuously. I water everything here with drip emitters placed at the edge of each plant's drip line (the outer edge of the plant, where rainwater drips off its leaves onto the ground). I placed the probe in the middle of the garden, thinking its 250-foot monitoring radius would be more than adequate to cover the whole area, but as soon as I looked at the app I knew something was wrong. I had just watered the garden, but Edyn reported that my garden soil contained just two percent moisture content.

Living in drought-stricken California, I use very moderate amounts of water in my gardens. My plants looked just fine, but Edyn was warning me: "Your soil is very dry. Water now or your plans may wilt." The problem, of course, was that the emitters were delivering water to the areas around the plants were their roots could most readily absorb it. The probe was in the middle of the garden, not close to any particular plant. I don't use sprayers in this garden because I don't have any ground cover, and too much water is blown away or evaporates before it hits the ground when it's sprayed. An Edyn spokesperson suggested moving the probe into one of the plant's drip line, but then I'd be monitoring just one plant, not my entire garden. Unless it's a particularly valuable plant that would be expensive to replace, I can't justify spending $100 to monitor just one plant.

Edyn proved more valuable in the north-side garden, because it warned me I was overwatering those plants. Moisture levels here were fully 60 percent, which meant I was not only wasting water, but that I was putting my plants at risk of root rot. "Your soil's getting very soggy," Edyn reported. "Please hold off on watering." After knocking some bark mulch aside and digging into the soil a bit, I could see that Edyn was correct in its assessment. I also double-checked by sticking a $10 moisture meter probe into the same ground. Yep, it was saturated and I'd been a bad citizen.

 

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