Watering your lawn using a timer-based irrigation controller is better than watering with a hose. But adding sensors or upgrading your system can save almost 9,000 gallons of water per year—with no more sprinklers running while it’s raining.

Here are your options, from basic to high-tech, which we've put together with help from our experts and Toro. All should be professionally installed, which adds about $75 to $200 per hour to the cost of each. Check with your municipality about required features.

Rain Sensor. A quick way to get a ticket is to water your lawn, on schedule, during a rainstorm. This sensor works with any controller, telling it to stop watering when it detects rain, and should be placed anywhere above ground that won’t be shielded from rain, say, on a gutter or fence post. Some are wireless. Look for freeze detection, which shuts off watering once temperatures dip below a certain threshold. It’s a nice feature if you forget to winterize your system or live in an area prone to sudden temperature drops, such as Dallas. Cost: $20 to $60.

Moisture Sensors. Embedded in the soil, they report back to a receiver attached to a controller, which in turn tells the controller to curtail watering. But they won’t alert you if the grass is dry and needs watering. They cost $25 to $100 and are often sold with a receiver to connect to the controller. You’ll need to upgrade your controller if it’s not compatible.

Weather Station. Connected to cloud-based weather data via your home Wi-Fi, weather stations use local weather and landscape conditions to tailor watering according to sun exposure, humidity, temperatures, and wind. They cost $150 to $300, and there are two types: one that’s a stand-alone device that’s added to your current controller, and another that replaces your controller. The latter is currently the only kind of irrigation controller certified by the EPA’s WaterSense water-efficiency program.

Smart Lawn Care

A lush lawn doesn’t require excessive amounts of water. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Eric Hagerman explains how you can keep your outdoor space looking great.