Using the best watering practices can increase the success of your garden. Know when and how to water will make a difference in getting new transplants started as well as caring for them during the hot summer months.
What time should I water my garden?
It’s best to water your garden in the morning or early day (6-9 a.m.). This reduces water loss due to evaporation. It allows absorption by the roots so plants can better handle the heat of the day. In addition, it leaves them dry before nightfall which helps prevent fungal diseases.
How often should I water my garden?
Most garden plants (specifically vegetables) do best if they get 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Native plants are more drought resistant so amount varies also based on plant material. When rainfall is lacking or when extreme heat is forecast you will want to provide supplemental water based on each plant’s needs. First check the soil before watering for moisture level. Watch weather forecasts to determine if watering will be needed. Watering deeply and infrequently encourages deeper root systems which will better withstand heat and drought conditions. In contrast, frequent shallow watering can encourage surface roots which dry out quickly.
Sprinkler, Hose or Irrigation Systems?
Exactly how you will want to water will depend on the scale of your garden, budget, and resources. Sprinkler systems require little time but can lose as much as half their water to evaporation on hot, windy days. Watering by garden hose is effective when done as needed. It is best to water plants near the soil as some plants dislike water laying on their leaves. Downside to watering with a hose is that it can be time consuming if you have a large garden. Drip irrigation lines run along the ground next to each plant bed or row. They provide watering as needed and can be set on a timer or according to need which can be a big time saver.
Consider spreading a 2-inch-deep layer of mulch in your garden. The mulch blankets the ground, shielding the soil from the sun. This conserves water, prevents moisture loss from evaporation and reduces weeds.