Of all potential tasks that come with the maintenance of a garden, irrigation plays the most important role in taking care of it. It must be a really easy task right, just point and hose? Well that is not always the case, as different plants have different needs and you will need to be aware of those before you move on. Consistency in irrigation and overall watering is a prime factor when it comes to keeping your plants alive, so let’s take a look at the what, when and how of watering:
How much water is needed by plants?
This is a simple question that leads to at least a few answers, most of which tend to be depending on the kinds of plants you have and your gardening and landscaping needs. As a general rule you should keep in mind that container plants will need the most water and frequent irrigation as moisture will evaporate faster. Smaller containers will need to be watered about twice daily, especially in really hot summers. In ground gardens will need a more moderate amount of water, and will be able to live with even less if you mulch them often enough. Soaking them well about three times a week will give you a better chance to irrigate raised beds. In ground gardens will need the smallest amount of water if the soil is amended right. Water established plants once or twice a week. Assuming you have fertile and loamy soil that retains introduced moisture well enough, conventional irrigation requires about an inch of water every week including rainfall.
There are different types of irrigation methods available, from the manual kind as long as you remember to water your plants when needed to the automatic kind where the watering system is set on a timer and set to run during certain time intervals throughout the year. If you happen to travel frequently or you struggle to water them, then automatic irrigation will be the way to go.
Many people tend to do this pretty often, either by using a watering can or even a garden hose, since that is what you will need most often. This setup is great for container gardening, small gardens, as well as hard to reach spaces and beds. It also works for delicate plantings and for gardeners who can devote a lot of time to gardening and landscaping. Watering cans will come in many ranges and capacities, but a two gallon container with a sprinkler head will be the most versatile option. Garden hoses will need to be fitted for a gentle spray with a shower nozzle or not. If you have any high planters or hanging baskets, consider using long reach watering wands for a much easier access.
Using soaker hoses
This type of hose looks similar to a usual garden hose, but it is made to pour water along its entire length rather than through a single opening. These hoses are great for in ground gardens, as they can be placed between plants and even buried under mulch. On the bright side they can also be very efficient as they can deliver droplets of water on the ground itself, no faster than the soil could absorb them, therefore reducing the potential for wasted water or runoff.
These can take the idea of soaker hoses even further, with making for the most precise type of watering for your gardening. Through a vast network of tubing, bubblers, valves, sprayers as well as emitters the drip lines can irrigate pretty much everything during gardening and landscaping from rows of vegetables, flowers and more.
If you have a lot of flat and large areas, sprinklers are the easy solution to your needs. They can be used to water groundcovers, as well as lawns and more. If you so choose the sprinklers can be combined with an adjustable spray pattern that can be dialed in to the range needed for gardening without any runoff water. The drawbacks to the sprinklers are that moisture will often be lost due to wind and evaporation, ending up with only about 40% or so of the water really reaching the roots of the plants since a lot of it will fall on the leaves and stay there.