Water is the key to life in the garden.
Your plants need water to be able to get the beneficial nutrients they need. And the roots play a key factor in getting this water from the soil.
But you never know how much water your plants need. Sometimes you water too much and sometimes too little. And your plants seem to suffer because of it.
Don’t worry because in this article you’ll learn all about watering. And the best way to use it for your own garden.
How to know if you need to water the garden?
There are many factors that can determine whether you need to water the garden. This could be the weather, soil, type of plant, and environment.
You need to check that the soil is dry before you water the garden. This depends on the type of soil which could be sandy or clay. You don’t want to water too much or too little as both cause problems with plant growth.
Take a lump of soil in your hand and try to roll it into a ball. If it sticks to your hand and forms a ball, the soil has enough moisture. But if it’s dry and crumbles in your hand, it needs watering.
Sandy soil drains water fast so you need to water often. Clay soil retains water longer which means you don’t need to water as often.
Your aim should be to add organic matter to your soil so that it can become better over time. Such soil retains just enough moisture for the plants while draining out the excess.
When the weather is hot, the soil will dry out faster and you need to water more often. But when there’s rain you just need to provide enough water.
Different plants have different needs when it comes to watering. Large plants tend to need more water than smaller ones. Some plants like strawberries have shallow roots and need frequent watering as well.
Wilt on your plants could be a sign that you need to water the plants. But check this at the end of the day. It could be a temporary problem during the day but the plants may recover in the evening.
What is the best time to water the garden?
The best time to water your garden is early before daybreak. This helps the plants get the required water and excess evaporates.
If you water during the day, it will evaporate faster before the plants get the required amount. And if the water is on foliage it could burn them.
If you water at night, the moisture can remain on the plants longer. This can invite bacterial and fungal diseases on the plant.
Watering after mild rainfall is also a good choice. This helps the water penetrate deep into the soil and helps roots grow deep and strong.
How much watering is needed in the garden?
You should aim to water your garden so it gets about 1 to 2 inches every week.
The watering should be slow and infrequent. This helps the water get deep into the soil and prevents evaporation. This encourages the roots to go deep into the soil to search for the water.
If you water the garden often then it can run off or evaporate quickly. Also, the roots will grow shallow which makes them weak and prone to drought.
It’s important to water just the right amount. You don’t want too much or too little as this causes diseases and withering of the plants.
Too much water will block the pores in the soil. The roots won’t get sufficient aeration and nutrients from the soil.
You can measure the amount of water that the soil in your garden is getting with the help of a rain gauge and moisture meter.
You should check out your watering nature as well. Do you travel often and won’t be able to water the plants as much? Then it’s better to grow such plants that need less water.
How to check the water your garden is getting?
You can first water the soil in your garden so that it’s deep and thorough. Then wait for about 30 minutes.
Use a tool like a trowel to dig into the soil about 8 inches. If the soil is wet then your garden is getting sufficient water. If it’s not then there is a watering problem. The water did not penetrate to the required depth or it ran off too quickly.
You can begin the process again. Water the soil slowly and for a longer period of time. And then after 30 minutes check again.
You can continue this process till you find that the soil has sufficient moisture to the depth of 8 inches.
Once you’ve reached that level, you know the speed and quantity of water you need to provide to your garden
What is the best way to water the garden?
The idea when watering the garden is that the water reaches the roots of the plants. This is better achieved when the watering is slow and deep.
You know how to check when your garden needs watering. You can stick a spade 6 to 10 inches deep into the soil to check for moisture.
If the soil is dry you need to water it well. It’s the roots of the plants that need water and not the foliage. Water on foliage is an invitation to pests and diseases. And it’s a waste of water as well.
You can use a watering can, hose, drip irrigation, or any other watering system. Water the soil slowly and for some time. This will help it reach deep into the soil.
What garden watering systems can you use?
If you have a small garden, you can choose to water it with a watering can. But for a medium or large sized garden, this is a waste of effort.
It’s better to use something like a sprinkler, furrow, hose, or drip irrigation that’s more efficient.
A furrow is a trench that you dig between raised beds. You can fill this with up with water. The wider the gap between raised beds the more water you need.
This water is then absorbed into the soil and reaches the plant roots. This is an easy way of watering but still inefficient.
The problem is water takes time to move from one end of the row to the other. It could also be that plants at one end receive more water than the others.
And while water remains in the furrows, it can evaporate before reaching into the soil.
You could use a garden hose for watering the plants in your garden. This is easy to use but inefficient for large gardens.
The good thing about using a hose is you can focus the water on individual containers or plants. But it’s a lot of work when you have a large garden. And you tend to wet the foliage as well.
If using a hose, you want to keep it on a trickle and water the base of the plant. You don’t want water and soil to splash on the foliage.
A sprinkler can be a good system for watering a large garden. You just set it up and turn it on.
The problem is the water will run off when the soil is sandy. So it’s better for a garden with clay soil.
Also, the water is sprayed on the foliage of the plants. If you don’t want problems of foliage disease you need to use the sprinklers in the morning. This gives the water sufficient time to evaporate from the foliage.
A soaker hose is a good watering system for all types of gardens. This system consists of a hose with tiny holes that you place around the plants.
The water from the holes only reaches the soil around the plants and not the foliage. And you save a lot of water as the focus is just for the roots.
The soaker hose is inexpensive because it does not have a lot of moving parts that you need to worry about.
drip irrigation is the most efficient watering system you can use in the garden. It consists of pipes that carry the water and have tiny holes in them.
It can save water and focus watering just the roots of the plants. You can set up a timer to start the Drip irrigation based on the schedule of watering your garden.
The problem with drip irrigation is that it’s expensive compared to some of the other systems. It has a lot of moving parts so you have to maintain the system every so often.
What is the best water to use in the garden?
The best water you can use for your plants is rainwater. This contains the necessary nitrogen but is free from salts. It also does not contain chemicals like chlorine that you find in tap water.
You can collect rainwater with the help of rain barrels in the garden. To connect multiple barrels you can use connectors.
The problem with tap water is the chemicals like chlorine that it contains. This damages the microorganisms that are present in the soil.
You can use distilled water or water that is filtered to remove such chemicals and impurities. Or you could use tap water that is allowed to sit for a day or so. This helps the chemicals dissipate from the water before you use it.
Why should you add organic matter to your garden?
The soil in your garden could be having sand or clay. Sand causes the water to run off quickly while clay will cause it to retain water for a long time.
These are not the best soil conditions for growing plants because they need sufficient moisture and aeration. But they don’t want their roots to drown in water.
The best thing you can do is change the composition of your soil over time. This can be done by adding organic matter like compost to your soil.
The compost has a good texture, nutrients, and microorganisms that break down the soil and turn it into friable soil that we need.
Mulch is organic material that you add a layer of on top of the soil. This could be straw, grass clippings, or wood chips.
The mulch helps to keep the soil temperature regulated. So it makes your watering efficient. It helps prevents erosion of the soil and protects against weeds.
Over time, the organic mulch will break down into organic matter and add to your soil. This is what will help your soil become into the friable soil that retains sufficient moisture while draining out the excess.
It’s important that the plants in your garden get the right amount of water.
Now you should know how to figure out the water your garden needs. And the best way to water the plants in your garden.
The first step is to learn when your garden needs water. You can do this by checking the condition of the soil in your garden.
If it’s too dry and crumbly in your hands, it’s time to water the soil deeply.
So get out there and try to learn more about the soil in your garden. It’s the key to watering your garden in the best way possible.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.