In Gardening

Complete Garden Watering Guide for Vegetables and Flowers

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There is something beautiful about getting your garden watering schedule perfect. Not only do perfectly watered plants thrive and grow better but they are more resistant to insect and weather damage. The hard part about knowing how often to water your garden is that it depends on a lot of different factors.

How Often Should I Water my Garden

When you have to decide how often to water your garden, it’s going to depend on several factors. If your garden is in containers, you’re going to need to water it more often. And if the weather is hot, that will also require more watering.

Should I Water my Vegetable Garden Every Day

watering vegetable garden

In the height of the summertime, your vegetable garden may need to be watered every day. Make sure though that you water it deeply every day. If you only get the surface of the soil damp, the plants will grow very shallow roots and they won’t be as hardy.

Can you Overwater a Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardens that are planted in the ground are difficult to be overwatered to the point where the plants will drown. Plants in containers are a different matter though. They can actually drown or start to rot if they get watered too much.

Of course, any plants that receive too much water stand a higher risk of developing fungal diseases. Keep a close eye out for any white, brown, or black spots on the leaves that may indicate problems.

How Often Should I Water my Flower Gardens

Younger flower gardens need to be watered often, sometimes multiple times a day if it is hot. However, mature plants may only need to be watered once every couple of days or once a week. To save water, you can plant a drought resistant garden. Many bee and butterfly friendly flowers are actually very tolerant of less water.

Should Container Gardens be Watered more Often

Container gardens need to be watered with less water, more often. This is because they are both easy to overwater and prone to being underwatered. Typically, water your container plants until water runs out the bottom of the container and then stop. This should be done every other day at most.

container garden

How Often Should I Water my Garden after Planting Seeds

Plant seeds are nature’s perfect packages. They can be kept almost indefinitely as long as they are kept dark and dry. Once the seeds get wet, they need to be kept moist until they sprout. Otherwise, they will just rot.

Typically, if you have just seeds in the ground, you can water just enough to keep the top of the soil damp. Sometimes, in the heat, this can mean watering for just a few minutes, several times a day. You shouldn’t keep the ground boggy, just moist.

Should I Water my Garden Every Day in hot Weather

Yes! If your weather gets above 90°F, and you don’t have a high humidity, you should water your garden every day. If your temperature gets above 100°F, you may have to water your garden twice a day. Of course, if your outdoor humidity is higher, you may get away with watering less.

When Should I Water my Garden

Remember, any water is better than no water while waiting for the “right time.” But if you have to choose the right time to water your garden…it’s when the garden is dry!

Time of Day

The best time of day to water is in the morning. This will not only prevent evaporation from taking most of your water but it will allow extra water to dry before the temperature goes down which prevents fungal infections.

Water when it is cool outside to save water

If the early part of the day is not a possibility, you can always water in the early afternoon. This is when plants need protection from the heat the most. Not only will this keep the plants watered but it could cool them down enough to prevent sunburn.

Number of Days a Week

As to the number of days you should water your garden each week, that depends on the soil, the number of plants per square foot, and the type of plant. Soil with more sand needs a lot more water than soil with more clay. More plants also means more water. 

Watch your own specific garden and if the soil starts to look dry and clumpy, water it. You will learn your own garden’s cycle before too long.

How Long Should I Water my Garden

You should water your garden until the water has reached the entire root system of the plant. Most plants, at least most crops and vegetable plants, require a specific amount of water, in inches, each day.

Measure the Amount of Water Applied in a Certain Time

garden timer

To make sure you are watering your plants enough, you need to know how much water is delivered in a specific amount of time. In other words, you need to know the inches per minute of your watering system.

Determine Inches per Minute

To learn how many inches per minute your system puts out, pick up a measuring cup from your hardware store’s garden section. These cups usually come with a spike that you can put in the ground to hold them up. 

Then, run your watering system for a specific amount of time. Divide the amount of water measured in the cup by the number of minutes you ran it. The result shows the number of inches each minute that your watering system delivers.

Water a Specified Amount of Water per week/day

Determine the amount water your “thirstiest” plant requires. To do this, Google it. Sure that’s a simple answer. But it’s the reality of the times. If you can’t figure that out, pick a point as a starting point. Say two inches of water, every other day.

If your plants look like they need more water, increase the amount of water delivered but keep it every other day. If that doesn’t work, you can water even more or water more often. The trick with gardening is to fiddle with the system until it works perfectly.

How to Water Your Garden

Watering a garden at all is better than not watering it because you’re worried about doing it wrong. What you have to remember is that if you water too much, the water should drain off. If you don’t water enough, you can add to it.

water deeply

Water Deeply

You should try to water the ground as deeply as possible when you water. This way, the roots of the plants will grow deeper and stronger. Your plants will be more resistant to weather damage because they have stronger roots.

To water your ground deeper, keep your water running for longer each time that you water. This means that you will have to water less frequently to prevent flooding your plants. So, instead of watering for 10 minutes every day, water for 20 minutes every other day. Just as an example.

Water Soil and not Leaves

As much as you can, you should try to keep water off the leaves of your plants, especially if they won’t have time to dry before the temperature drops in the evening. Water on the leaves will cause fungal infections.

How to Conserve Water when Watering Your Garden

Especially for homeowners looking to run their home in an eco-friendly manner, using water in the garden can seem wrong. However, there are ways that you can conserve water if you water a little bit differently.


If you apply a thick bed of mulch, it will prevent extra water on top of the soil from evaporating as fast. This lets water actually seep into the soil. Of course, if you put too much mulch down, it will prevent water from getting to the soil as easily, so you may have to water for longer each time.

Mulch keeps water from evaporating and gives plants time to soak it in

Water in the Morning

An even easier way to conserve water in your garden is to water in the morning rather than at hotter times of the day. The warmer the temperature outside, the faster the water will evaporate. This means that a lot of the water evaporates before it even hits the ground if you water with traditional, above-ground sprinklers.

What are Some Signs of Overwatering or Underwatering

When you are first trying to sort out your watering schedule, you will need to watch closely for signs of overwatering and underwatering. This way, you can alter your schedule as needed in order to account for any issues.

Early signs of overwatering are pools of water that don’t seep into the ground within a reasonable time. If you have pools of water more than 15 minutes or so, you’re watering too much. Overwatering will typically result in plants that develop yellow, mushy leaves. Plants will wilt as their cell walls are broken as too much water is taken in.

Underwatering will show itself first as wilted plants with shriveled leaves. The plants will struggle to grow. Soil around the plants may start to crack as the water is taken out of it. Late stages of underwatering will make plants turn dry and brown and the leaves will fall off.

How Does the Environment Play a Role in how Often I should Water

There are some obvious ways that the environment plays a role in watering but there are also some not so obvious. Of course, the biggest factors are the dirt the plant is in and the water that falls on it.


Amount of Rain and Humidity

The plant receives a certain amount of water that falls in the form of rain. Of course, there is also humidity in the air. If more rain falls or the air is more humid, the plant will need less water to come from you.

Soil Type

Soil will play a major role in the amount of water a plant needs to survive. If your soil is sandy, the water will drain through it faster. This means that your plant has less time to absorb the water before it drains away. You will need to either water more, or preferably have plants that require less water.

For people with clay soil, there is the opposite problem. Clay soil drains poorly and holds water for long periods of time. This can easily drown plants since their roots will sit in pools of water. If you have clay soil, your plants will need to be able to withstand more water or you need to water much less.


It is a difficult process learning how often to water garden plants. You have to watch carefully for signs that your timing or your system is wrong and adjust accordingly. And every time you seem to get it right, something will probably change and you’ll have to readjust. Getting the right amount of water to a garden is a constant chore and pleasure to the home gardener though.