Gardena has a strong market position in Europe and is the undisputed number 1 in the market for irrigation products in German-speaking countries. Hardly any products from other manufacturers can be found in hardware stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Gardena is also a relevant player in Australia (Neta brand) and after the takeover of Orbit, it could also become so in the US market in the future. In this article, I present the most important irrigation products from the Gardena range and give my subjective rating of which Gardena products you can use with a clear conscience and where you are better off with alternatives from other manufacturers.
Gardena’s pipeline pipes are absolutely fine and serve their purpose. It just doesn’t make any sense to prefer Gardena pipes to standard PE pipes, which are available for significantly less money. The alternatives are often even suitable for the qualitatively more demanding water pipe construction and have higher maximum pressure values. Nevertheless, they cost significantly less, sometimes only half as much as the Gardena pipe.
The Gardena fittings for connecting and redirecting the pipes and for connecting sprinklers are flawless. They work reliably and, according to Gardena’s request, also have a high maximum operating pressure of almost 90 psi. I haven’t had any bad experiences with it so far and I can recommend it with a clear conscience.
The Gardena Swing Joint leads an absolute shadowy commercial existence. According to my test, the Connector G2739-20 works perfectly and does what it should. Small downside: Compared to the Swing Joints of the competitors, it is a bit more expensive.
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to install a drain valve in the pipeline. If you decide to do this, the Gardena valve is not a bad choice, it is very easy to install and does what it is supposed to do. It remains closed under water pressure, as soon as the pressure is released it opens and allows the water to escape from the pipeline.
From my point of view, Gardena has the greatest deficit of all product groups when it comes to sprinklers. Here it is definitely advisable to use the products of the big international competitors Hunter or Rain Bird. In my own blog post, I compared the most important sprinklers from Hunter, Rain Bird and Toro. The Gardena sprinklers perform very poorly in comparison, I rate the small Gardena T100 sprinkler on my scale of only 1 out of 5 points. The main reason is its uneven and inconstant functioning and the fact that it is almost impossible to adjust it properly. The two other Gardena turbine pop-up sprinklers T200 and T380 are a bit better, but they don’t do particularly well either (each 2.5 out of 5 points on my scale) the OS140 square sprinkler achieved 3 out of 5 points.
Therefore, it is better to use the models from Hunter or Rain Bird, which work very reliably and make many things easier for the user! My top pick is the Hunter MP Rotator, but the Rain Bird R-VAN, the Rain Bird 5000 or the Hunter PGP Ultra are also excellent sprinklers and are still available at a lower price than the Gardena products. If you are looking for a solution that is as cheap as possible but still solid, then you are well advised to go with the Rain Bird 3500 or the Hunter PGP.
Gardena has a very wide range of products for sprinkler timers which have the valve integrated in the computer and through which the water flows through. It has worked in this market for many years.
Above all, there would still be potential for improvement in terms of program functionality, but the Gardena computers are very solid in terms of construction. Although a bit more expensive than the many competing products, but the quality is okay. With the Gardena computers, you can be sure that there are no beginner’s mistakes due to years of experience in this area. I’ve tested a few competitors lately and so far, various basics such as a proper battery connection, a sufficiently high water flow, etc. have not fit with many of them.
If you are looking for a very simple computer with only one water outlet and without the option of watering several sectors, the Gardena Select is a good choice. At around USD 50, it is still in the green range in terms of price. If you want to control the watering computer using your cell phone and incorporate automations such as taking the local weather report into account, then the Gardena Smart Water Control is an interesting alternative.
Further link: Comparison of the sprinkler timers available on the market
Irrigation computer for valve control
When it comes to irrigation computers for solenoid valve control, Gardena is a very small supplier by international comparison. The large irrigation companies Rain Bird and Hunter have a very large selection of these computers in their range and are constantly developing them further, e.g. in the direction of web capability. At Gardena you notice that this segment is an absolute secondary segment compared to other areas within the company, the majority of the products on offer have remained the same for a long time (also in terms of design). Gardena offers 4 models: The 4030 irrigation control (4 sectors), the 6030 irrigation control (6 sectors) and the Gardena control unit for 9 volt solenoid valves. In addition, the newly introduced Gardena Smart Irrigation Control (6 sectors) to be controlled via WiFi.
The first three look a bit outdated, but in my opinion they are not that bad and serve their purpose. The only major downside with the 4030 and 6030 is that they are not suitable for outdoor use. If that’s not a problem and you don’t have high demands, you can certainly strike in combination with the comparatively low price.
The new Gardena smart Irrigation Control looks very appealing, but it also has a significantly higher price. Especially when you consider that the additional purchase of a Gardena Gateway is necessary. For some time now, the Gardena computers have also been supporting the automatic control of irrigation based on weather data, but apart from that, Gardena still lags behind its international competitors in terms of software.
In my opinion, the computers from Hunter and Rain Bird are at least one category higher and also offer many more possibilities in terms of sensor use. Hundreds of thousands of them are sold worldwide, they are in strong competition with each other, and you can therefore feel on the safe side in terms of quality and durability. If you want to operate more than 6 sectors, you have to use one of the competing products in any case.
Further link: I present numerous other irrigation computers for valve control, including those with WiFi option, in the associated blog post
Gardena has a rain sensor and two soil moisture sensors in its range. The rain sensor has the major shortcoming that it only detects rain optically and not, like the products of the competition, by collecting and measuring the amount of rain. From my point of view, this makes very little sense, the competition offers much more useful things here!
A wired model and a wireless model that can be controlled via WiFi are available for the soil moisture sensors. The wired model, which is already clearly showing its age, was recently replaced by a renewed, optically much more attractive one. This is a solid, well-functioning sensor that is compatible with numerous Gardena water computers. The optically spruced up WiFi variant basically has the same functionality but transmits its information via the web and thus offers additional possibilities for automation. The functionality has been expanded over time, so that it now makes sense to use it. To use it, you need an additional Gardena Gateway and one of the two WiFi-enabled Gardena computers (Gardena smart Irrigation Control or Gardena smart Water Control).
In principle, it should be noted that there is only a very manageable range of sensors for sprinkler timers through which the water runs. When it comes to irrigation computers for solenoid valve control, on the other hand, there is a very large range of tried and tested products from the competition, including sensor types that Gardena does not have in its range.
Further link: Overview of the range of sensors for irrigation computers
In my experience, all three Gardena water distributors, i.e. the 2-way distributor, the 4-way distributor and the 2-way valve are good, long-lasting products. Here, too, Gardena is a few USD more expensive than the no-name products, but you know what you are getting.
Automatic water distributor
The Gardena water distributor automatic is my absolute favorite among all Gardena irrigation products, I will also present it in a separate blog post. Many years ago, Gardena succeeded in creating a really great product. The automatic water distributor makes it possible to implement automatic irrigation with several sectors without using solenoid valves. This can be useful if the solution needs to be as simple and inexpensive as possible. Up to 6 sectors can be irrigated with the automatic water distributor. It is a purely mechanical product that requires a suitable watering computer. This can be the Gardena Master, for example. I present other possible models in my sprinkler timer blog post.
Such an automatic water distributor as an alternative to using solenoid valves is only available from Gardena, I am not aware of any competing products. These things are tough and weatherproof and, in my experience, also durable. I know examples from the previous model that are already 10 years old and more and are still in use. Top!
A very clear statement on this: Stay away from the Gardena solenoid valves and instead better reach for the products of the competition! Not only are they cheaper, they are also low-flow capable and some are equipped with flow control. And above all, they are significantly better in terms of reliability and durability. You really don’t need to think any further…
A very good and inexpensive solenoid valve is, for example, the Hunter PGV 101. But the products from Rain Bird and Toro are also good.
Further link: Solenoid valves for garden irrigation – which ones are there and how do they differ?
Water sockets/Quick coupling valves
Additional water extraction points in the garden connected to the water pipeline are referred to as water sockets or quick couplings. The term “water socket” is a creation of the Gardena company, which stands for the fact that water extraction is as easy as connecting a power plug to the socket. It really is! The water socket is a very practical thing that is only offered by Gardena in this way. Simply connect and the water is already running. And the whole thing looks nice too. A small drop of bitterness: After a few years, the water stop function can give up the ghost, but the part in question can be changed very easily. For me an intelligent and unique product and a clear purchase recommendation!
A possible alternative, but based on a completely different principle, is a Rain Bird valve box with an integrated ball water tap. This does not work quite as conveniently and stylishly as the water socket, but it is very durable.
More about the water socket and possible alternatives in the blog post on how a water socket works.
Connecting points/Regulator and shut-off valves
These are two more Gardena products that cleverly satisfy a consumer need that is not covered by other manufacturers.
The Gardena connection box gives you the opportunity to lead the water connection elegantly into the ground via the box and to continue from there underground with the usual PE pipeline pipes. The Gardena regulating and shut-off box is a way of manually opening and closing the underground pipeline from the ground or alternatively regulating the water flow. To do this, the control lever is simply turned completely or only partially. From my point of view, both boxes are not rocket science, you could make something like that yourself with a little skill. But they are solid and also good-looking products that give you additional options in your planning.
When it comes to pressure reducers for micro-irrigation, it is worth relying on the two Gardena products! For the average consumer, the Master unit 1,000 or the Master unit 2,000 with 264 or 528 gallons (1,000 or 2,000 liters) maximum flow rate per hour is usually easily sufficient and as a further advantage they have the filter already integrated. They are also a fair bit cheaper than the competition’s products. The Hunter HFR-075 would be the primary alternative here. It even manages a flow rate of 900 gallons per hour, but at around 35 USD it costs significantly more than the Master unit 2,000 (20 USD) or the Master unit 1,000 (only 10 USD).
Micro Irrigation Pipeline and Connectors
In the micro-irrigation system, a 1/2 inch pipe is used for the pipeline, and 1/4 inch hoses are used to transport the last piece to the plants. Gardena’s 1/2 inch pipeline pipe is perfectly fine. However, the following also applies in this case: the usual PE pipe that is not marketed for irrigation purposes can be bought much cheaper! There are no no-name alternatives that I know of for the 1/4 inch hose. So turning to Gardena is obvious.
The Gardena micro-irrigation connectors are plug-in connectors. This is also sufficient for use with low micro-irrigation pressure and the connectors work as they should. If you want to operate the micro-irrigation with a higher pressure, clamp connections for micro-irrigation pipes are alternatively available on the market.
Here, too, the Gardena products are okay from my point of view, but not in the top position. The micro-irrigation sprayers from Hunter and Rain Bird have two advantages: The radius can be regulated directly on the sprayer as standard and the devices for raising the sprayers are much more stable than is the case with Gardena. In return, Gardena also offers its own, innovative types of sprayers, e.g. with the 6-area spray nozzle, which the competition does not have in their range.
Gardena has pressure-compensating and non-pressure-compensating drippers in its range, most other manufacturers only have pressure-compensating ones. These have the advantage that they automatically ensure that the drippers work with the same performance over the entire length of the pipe, i.e. the dripper at the beginning of the pipe does not release significantly more water than the one at the end. Gardena’s pressure-compensating droppers are fine, I wouldn’t recommend the non-pressure-compensating ones, you should invest the few cents more. I think the products from Rain Bird and Hunter are even better here.
For drip tubes, i.e. tubes with emitters already integrated into them, what has already been said about drippers and sprayers applies. Gardena = ok, Hunter and Rain Bird = just a touch better.
Gardena Micro Irrigation Fertilizer Dispenser
The Gardena fertilizer dispenser is a thoroughly successful product. It is used to inject liquid fertilizer into the micro-irrigation circuit, is quite cheap at just under 20 USD and works simply and well. Simply fill in the liquid fertilizer at the top and use the rotary control to set the mixing ratio, i.e. which proportion of fertilizer should be mixed with the water flowing through. I am not aware of any comparable product from other irrigation companies. The only alternatives I know of are so-called Venturi injectors.
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