When it comes to watering your garden, there are no hard and fast rules that can be applied to all gardens. That said, the amount of water you use will depend on the specifics of your garden, such as the type of plants, the type of soil, and the climatic conditions in which your garden is situated. It is always important to pay careful attention when watering your plants, as too much or too little water can have a negative impact on plants’ growth.
Water According to Soil Type and Condition
How much water you apply depends both on the type of soil your plant is situated in, as well as the amount of soil present. A good practice is to feel the weight of the pot before you water it. Generally the heavier the pot, the more moisture it contains. Therefore if your pot feels light, then water slowly. Feel the pot’s weight again and continue until it weighs just about right. Make sure you target the roots, as this is where the plants need water the most.
The soil type in your garden determines how much water you should apply. Clay soil holds much more moisture (and for a longer period) than say, sandy soil. Also, the healthier your soil, the more water it can retain. Therefore it’s a good idea to apply mulch or some other soil fertilizer. If you are having the opposite problem, where the soil is absorbing water too fast, adding compost might be good to slow it down.
A useful tool to measure the level of moisture in your plant is a soil moisture sensor. If you want to go low-tech, then simply stick a spade in the soil and pull it back out to determine the level of moisture. The deeper you water, the stronger the growth of your plants. One to two inches of water per week is considered to be the general rule of thumb among gardeners.
Ways to Water Your Garden
There are several ways to water your garden, and each method is best suited for different plant or garden types.
Hand watering is not always the best option, but it depends on whether you are watering individual plants or an entire garden. In the case of the latter, you risk distributing the water unevenly. Therefore it is best to reserve hand watering (either by hose or watering can) for individual plants.
Soaker hoses are one of the more efficient ways to water a garden, as they focus on the soil than the plants themselves. This reduces the amount of water wasted, and helps for a more even distribution.
This is similar to a soaker hose and even more efficient. It drives water close to the roots and performs the same job using less water. This option, though, is slightly more expensive. But, if your garden is part of a business or you have a large garden, then it’s worth the investment.
Sprinklers should be used with caution. They can potentially waste a lot of water if not done correctly. With a sprinkler, you risk over-watering your plants and setting them up for diseases. On the other hand, sprinklers add a great deal of moisture to the soil. It is best to limit sprinkler use to morning and evening.
When and How Much to Water Your Plants
- Early morning and late afternoon are usually the best times to water your garden, as the cooler temperature will result in less water loss.
- Sometimes wilting leaves are a sign that your plants need water—but not always. Some plants—like eggplant—will wilt under hot conditions.
- The life cycle of your plants are also an indicator of when you should water them and how much. If your plants are recently transplanted then you only need light, steady watering. When there is flowering and fruit formation, light watering is also critical. When vegetables reach maturity, watering should be reduced to prevent splitting.
When watering plants, there are many variables to consider: soil type, time of day, the size of your garden, the life cycle of the plant, and the ultimate purpose of your garden. Efficient watering aims at the root, and uses less water to moisturize the soil. The hotter the conditions, the more you will have to water your garden, but over-watering is a real danger. Check the soil regularly and know what type of soil you have.
For more advice on watering your garden, you can speak to a professional or garden supply store. If there are tools available to make your garden more efficient and fruitful, they will certainly be able to tell you about it.