Watering your garden: 11 ways to do it more effectively

There's more to watering a garden than occasionally splashing the hose around. Here are 11 tips to ensure you're watering your garden in a way that gives plants what they need without wasting water.

Watering your garden: 11 ways to do it more effectively

Sprinkler systems are a labour-saving marvel. They can also be water-saving if used correctly. But there's more to using a sprinkler system than simply setting a timer and forgetting about it. It's also important to adjust your practices to weather, soil and plant conditions. Here are 11 ways to help you water more efficiently.

1. Check the depth of watering

It's important to check whether your watering system is saturating the ground to the depth of the roots. Deeper watering means it's not simply evaporating off the surface and it's reaching where it needs to be.

  • Run the system for about 20 minutes (longer for weeping, drip or micro-irrigation systems), then probe the soil to see if it's moist. If it is, turn the water off. If it's still dry, leave the system to run longer.
  • Deeper watering means you'll have to water less frequently.

2. Water early or late in the day

To avoid evaporation, water only in the early morning or late in the afternoon when it's cool. However, if it's especially hot in the middle of the day, break this rule and give your plants some extra relief.

  • Water stress due to drought conditions can lead to other problems, such as pest and disease attacks.

3. Water the roots not the foliage

If watering by hand, water the soil, not the foliage, so the water reaches the roots.

  • On hot days, be very careful not to splash the leaves – the magnifying power of water droplets can concentrate the sunlight and burn them.

4. Permit the soil to dry

Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but don't leave it for so long that plants become water stressed. Dry soil sucks up water more effectively than if it's waterlogged.

  • Remember to adjust your watering patterns to reflect changes in season and local weather conditions and also check to see if any water restrictions apply.

5. Give plants extra care

Give plants extra help during periods of drought and heat. Stress on the plants can severely hinder their growth or ability to produce lush foliage and flowers.

  • In addition, water more often in windy weather and when plants are actively growing or blooming.

6. Run automatic sprinklers at night

If you have an automatic system, run it during the night.

  • Nighttime is when the water pressure is stronger due to lower overall demand on the water supply.

7. Don't leave a hose in the sun

The water that collects in it heats up and can burn foliage. On really hot days the scalding water could potentially burn your skin, too.

  • Store hoses in the shade or allow water to run cold before hosing plants.
  • For automatic sprinklers, cover irrigation pipes with mulch or set them just below ground level.

8. Regularly maintain your sprinkler system

Regularly check and clean all irrigation heads and filters to ensure the water is flowing correctly. Otherwise, you're simply wasting water and affecting its ability to properly water your property.

  • A tap filter will catch dirt before it enters the system.
  • To flush out the system, remove the end cap and let the water run for several minutes.

9. Adjust watering times

If you live in an area with cold winters, the water in hoses and irrigation systems can freeze overnight. This is a problem if your water system is set to automatically come on early in the morning.

  • On cold nights, adjust the watering times to avoid early mornings.

10. Water repeatedly

If you are using water to avoid frost damage to plants – especially those susceptible to colder temperatures – set the timer so the system comes on several times during the night.

  • The thin layer of water on the foliage insulates plants from freezing temperatures and helps to protect it from damage. Repeated overnight applications cause a protective build-up, much like the layers of an onion.

11. Fix leaks right away

Don't forget to check and fix dripping taps.

  • A slowly dripping tap wastes about 90 litres (20 gallons) of water a week. Over the course of the summer, you'll be literally throwing away money and wasting this precious resource.

By adopting these smart watering strategies, you can enjoy a garden full of greenery while contributing to water conservation efforts.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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