Technology in the garden - digital plant moisture meters

We’re all keen not to use unnecessary water and a soil moisture meter helps you monitor the hydration levels of your soil in order to give your plants optimum growing conditions and avoid wasting water.

A soil meter is a gadget with a probe that is sunk into the soil in a bed, lawn or pot.  Some are designed for indoor use while others are designed to be waterproof for both indoor and outdoors use.  The probes tend to be shorter for indoor use only and longer for outdoor use.  If your soil bakes hard in the summer, look out for a sturdy probe.  The meters establish if the soil is being over or under watered or has adequate drainage.

Meters can be analogue, which are a cost-effective option and tend to show readings on a 1-10 scale and don’t need batteries.  Digital meters are a bit more expensive but can be more accurate, easier to read and can be read from indoors.  An example of this is The Ecowitt soil moisture meter which is a digital meter with an LCD display and a battery compartment for AA batteries.  It takes accurate soil moisture level readings in 72 seconds, depicted as a numerical percentage as well as visually with a flower pot icon - below 40% meaning the soil may need watering.  The display monitor which is bought separately, receives information wirelessly, as long as the sensor is within 100m.  You can also get an accurate result from the free Ecowitt app on your mobile phone after connecting with WiFi via the gateway which is bought separately.

Water meters are useful tools to help with irrigation for a fairly small outlay.  And while an analogue meter is enough for basic needs, some digital meters can also provide information about soil pH to alert you to very high or low Ph levels and light levels.  It all depends on your personal requirements and how techy you want to get.