Readers, take note: the Particle Photon lets you write, compile, and flash code from the cloud. Talk about a frictionless development experience! No software to install, no connecting your dev board to your computer, even. Device is sitting in a windowless, locked room on the other side of the country? You can still write and load new code onto it.
Cloud access extends to being able to call functions on your device from their cloud API as well as being able to post data and events from the device to the cloud. There are many IoT-ish things you could dream up involving a Particle device and perhaps AWS Lambda or Zapier or something similar.
There are, uh, obviously security concerns --- something about great power and great responsibility --- but if hackers hack my irrigation robot, then the worst case is that my plants die. That's kind of cool in a cyberpunk-murder-thru-hacking scenario, by the way.
People familiar with programming Arduino will find Particle devices pretty easy to work with, since Particle uses Wiring, the "embedded programming with training wheels" environment based on Processing. (I think that's how they're related, anyways.)
Really, any water pump that you can hook will work. We had an alternative setup using peristaltic pumps which can be controlled precisely and also do not touch the liquid inside the tube. They were quite slow at pumping, but that's not necessarily a problem.