How Your Amazon Echo Speaker Can Be the Best Garden Assistant
Simple as they may seem, Amazon Echo speakers are handy all around the house -- even outdoors. I'm sure you've read about how Alexa can help in the kitchen or bathroom, but have you considered taking Alexa for a trip to the backyard?
Next time you go to work in the home garden you've been working so hard on, bring your Echo device along with your other gardening tools. That may sound strange, but there's five neat ways Alexa can be the best gardening assistant.
1. Learn how to start a garden
OK, so maybe you haven't started your garden yet, but you definitely want to. Alexa can help you learn the basics and get this project off the ground.
The Beginners Gardening skill will walk you -- step by step -- through the process of starting a garden. While this skill won't navigate any hurdles you may run into during the process, it will give you the foundations and a clear path forward for starting your very own garden.
2. Get detailed weather forecasts
After your garden is planted, you'll want to keep an eye on the weather.
Maybe there's one last cold snap in the spring or there's been a bit of a drought. Your plants may need to be protected from unusual or harsh weather, so it's just smart gardening to know what weather is coming up and plan accordingly. You can just ask Alexa for the weather -- it's a solid, built-in feature.
But if you want better, more detailed weather forecasts, try the Big Sky skill. Big Sky is built on the Dark Sky API for hyperlocal weather forecasts, hour by hour and down to your specific street address. The forecasts are highly detailed and eerily accurate.
You can say things like, "Alexa, ask Big Sky if it will rain in the next three days," or "Alexa, ask Big Sky for tomorrow's weather."
Alexa can keep an eye on the weather for you.James Martin/CNET
3. Create reminders for watering plants
Some plants need to be watered more than others, especially if it's been extra-dry out. Use your Alexa speaker to create reminders for specific plants.
Say something like, "Alexa, water the tomatoes tomorrow morning at 7 a.m." At 7 a.m. the following day, Alexa will light up with a notification and you'll receive a push notification on your phone telling you to water the tomatoes. Of course, if you have a diverse garden, you can also create a calendar, then link that calendar with Alexa. When you ask for your Flash Briefing or say, "Alexa, my schedule," Alexa can tell you if you need to water any of your plants.
Control the sprinklers
More and more smart home gadgets now work with Alexa. Smart sprinklers are no exception. Rachio sprinklers, for example, can be controlled by your Alexa speaker. After you set up your Rachio sprinklers and connect your account with the Amazon account tied to your Alexa speaker, you will be able to turn on and off the sprinkler using your voice.
You can also be pretty specific about how, where and when a sprinkler runs. Say something like, "Alexa, tell Rachio to start zone 3 for four minutes."
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5. Listen to your audiobooks while you work
This may seem pretty obvious.
Using a smart speaker to play an audiobook? How original. But gardening, for many people, is a zen-like activity.
It's a nice way to slow down, relax, get your hands dirty and enjoy some fresh air outside for a while.
So it stands to reason that other zen-like activities could be paired together while you garden.
You can use your Alexa speaker to stream your favorite podcast or audiobook, or you can just listen to some calm, ambient music while you plant some gardenias.