Take Control Of Your Landscape: A Guide To The Connected Outdoor Environment

Some of the most impressive properties that I’ve helped design and create into smart controlled experiences for their occupants all included a healthy mix of controlled and zoned lighting, with audio and video as well, in order to shape some truly incredible experiences in the residential, commercial and industrial spaces. The truly impressive ones, however, all took advantage of their real estate by maximizing their control systems’ abilities to reach outside and help them turn the exterior into an extension of their interiors.

There are a multitude of moods and experiences that await you or your customers’, and if you apply these same systems and thought processes into your own outdoor spaces (or your customers’) at home, your backyard will hopefully be a place where you go to relax, and entertain day and night alike. Technology deployed into the landscape can be unsightly and obtrusive, or hidden in plain sight, or add to the overall look and feel to your space. Any way can add value, but only one way enhances and also doesn’t disturb your visual experience in your space. For first timers, adding this tech can also be rather confusing, leaving you feeling unsure as where to start, whose brands are better than the competition or even if those same brands in question are compatible with one another. The answers to those questions are a much longer and ongoing conversation we can have if you reach out to me here, but for now lets simply talk about what options that are available today for your next connected landscaping project.

Lighting:

Lighting in the exterior can completely transform the mood, feel, look and tone of a space, and in the landscape, there’s more freedom to create with the buildings shapes, areas and any plants or water features you may have to work with. LED has changed everything you know about traditional lighting; it’s uses far less power, it’s less hot than other light sources and because the diodes are generally smaller, some truly unique lighting installations have be created today.

Some unique lighting companies I’ve used and recommend include FX Luminaire/HOLM, WAC Lighting, Q-TRAN, Soraa, B-K & Tekka Illumination, SPJ Lighting, Core Lighting, MP Lighting, Hydrell and Vision 3, among others.

Audio:

Audio in an outdoor environment adds an extra layer of of ambiance to a space and is definitely a must if you’re running wires outdoors. Considering using some of the following audio brands if you’re looking for flexibility in an audio system that supports your exterior audio needs: Audiocontrol, Sonos, Nuvo, James Loudspeaker, Leon Speakers, Sonance (Dana Innovations) and Speakercraft. While I have not yet used Terra Speakers personally in my projects, I will say they are definitely far ahead of the competition, and now that they have joined LEON Speakers, I await even more innovative audio solutions.

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Video:

Visual effect can come in a large array of options and each need to be carefully thought out due to moisture. Luckily, there are professionals who design and install them everyday. Below are a few of notable video companies that have outdoor options: SunBrite TV, Seurra, Stewart Filmscreen, Barco, Christie Digital, Absen LED, Digital Projection, LG and others. What’s really important to note about outdoor video is that it can be used to entertain, attract, distract and educate, as well as serve as a control or central hub for a larger system; your choices can be limitless, but again, if you get with a certified professional, your space will serve your needs.

Irrigation:

Your irrigation system seems pretty boring when you think about it, really. However, taking the same set of ideals for zoning and adding to a control system, or even systems, will allow for a much more flourishing space and energy conscious one too.

Some companies you should consider in your space are, Hunter Industries, SkyDrop, Rachio, Rain Bird and Orbit’s B-Hyve. There are others ways to get smart irrigation controls, but you’d have to right your own scheduler module within a control system, for a specific irrigation controller, which is very time consuming — trust me.

The most exciting and fun yard to be at could be yours, and all you have to do is start designing something that fits your needs and space requirements. It could be simple, or it could be intricate and elaborate; it’s completely your choice. What’s even better is that you could potentially change your space every night differently through zoning and creating scenes inside of a control system. In today’s world, there are so many choices now and before you choose one, you should figure out what what you want in your spaces, and how you intend to live and use them. By deciding these things now, this will help you create a place that can accommodate these needs later and not hinder them.

Another important thing to note is that your network is important. Your network is the backbone of all these systems. Could you imagine your newly redesigned outdoor recreational area without the Internet working? Maybe, but probably not in today’s society, everything is connected. At the end of the day, keep in mind all your wants and needs for your outdoor space when consulting with your certified technologist; you can thank me later by bringing me over to your next backyard soirée.

Johnny Mota

About Johnny Mota

Johnny Mota is a systems integrator in northern California. He writes for rAVe [Publications] as a member of the BlogSquad, as well as SF New Tech, Geek Beat TV, Lust Gadget and other places. He also acts as the social media manager for a few AV and automation companies. He loves art, technology and lamp. Don’t make it weird. You can reach him at johnnymota3@gmail.com.