When you build a garden bed, there is nothing more disheartening than the plants dying just because you didn’t water them every day after work. Fortunately, there’s some great methods you can use to get the right amount of garden watering on a regular basis. Most vegetables require 1/2″ to 1″ of water each week in order to thrive but each garden is a little different so run your own numbers with this worksheet. The garden watering system you use depends on how much money and time you want to spend watering.
Garden Watering with Hoses and Cans
How to Pick a Good Can
The most basic garden watering system is a watering can. When selecting a watering can, one of the important factors is the weight of the watering can when it is full. I have talked to so many people that hate their watering can because it is too heavy when it is full of water.
If you can handle the weight of a larger can, consider buying a larger one. This way, you reduce the number of trips you have to take to the spigot. The material of the watering can doesn’t matter since plastic and metal will last about the same amount of time.
How to Pick a Good Garden Hose
Garden hoses are not all created equal. A good garden watering hose should be 5/8″ in diameter and resist kinking. To see how a hose will resist kinking, don’t hesitate to fold the end in the store. If the hose bounces back immediately, it will resist kinking. The slower it bounces back, the less kink resistance it has.
I prefer the reinforced vinyl hoses since rubber hoses tend to be heavier but rubber does resist kinking better. Keep in mind that basic vinyl hoses are prone to kinking and they don’t last as long for most garden watering.
For most people, the length of the hose doesn’t need to be longer than 50 feet. If you get any longer, it will become an incredibly heavy hose and you’ll struggle to use it. Hoses shorter than 50 feet are usually found by most people to be too short to really reach what is required.
Brass fittings on a hose are always nice to have since they last longer. Not only that but on the spigot end, keep an eye out for an anti-kink protector. It will look like a spring wrapped around the hose. This protector keeps the hose from kinking at its most vulnerable point.
My very favorite all-purpose hose is a 50 foot, 5/8″, reinforced hose from Gilmour called the Flexogen. It has brass fittings and a kink protector at the spigot but it doesn’t really need it because this hose has incredible kink resistance. I’m not an affiliate of theirs but I feel like everybody needs one of these hoses. I recommend it to all of my garden customers.
Garden Watering with Microdrip
What is Microdrip
Most people don’t have a ton of experience with microdrip and what it is. I go into in depth in another post but to give you a brief idea: when you water your garden with a hose or sprinkler, the water gets everywhere. When you look at the majority of gardens, most of the garden is not covered in your chosen vegetables or flowers. So you are watering weeds. Microdrip systems get water only to the plants of your choosing and not to the open space in between them.
Benefits of Microdrip
Microdrip systems save you a ton of water and money. Since these systems put water only on the plants of your choice, you aren’t wasting water on the open ground between. It’s also going to save you money since these systems operate best under low pressure and longer watering times. The only downside to microdrip systems is that they tubing and piping is all above ground so it’s not the sexiest watering system available but it is really easy to set up. Microdrip garden watering is my favorite way to set up a watering system.
Garden Watering with Timing Systems
If you want a garden watering system that is easier to remember, put your hoses or microdrip systems on a timer. Timers will come in a few varieties but most typically run off of batteries. Timers can be set to run on certain days for a specific length of time. This way, you don’t have to remember to water.
Most timers, since they run off of batteries, will need some amount of care in order to last. They will be just fine connected to your spigot throughout the summer; don’t worry about water dripping around them. However, when Fall starts to come in, disconnect your timer and put it in a storage shed or closet through the winter. I go one step further and take the batteries out of my timers so that they last even longer.
Timers come with a range of zone offerings. You can get most brands to run anywhere from 1 to 4 zones from the same timer. That means that you can have up to 4 different spigots with 4 different timing programs. For my backyard, I use 3 zones right now but one is just a connection for a manual hose. I would suggest nothing less than 2 zones because I have found I still use my manual hose quite a bit, even with the timers.
My 4 zone timer from Melnor only cost me $50 and I have not had any difficulties or issues. I am not an affiliate of theirs either but I have loved their timer from the beginning because it is easy to use and does everything I want! There are so many options for the length of watering time as well as the days I water.
Garden Watering with Hardwired Systems
For people who want the ultimate in low maintenance and the most flexible system, there are hardwired, underground watering systems. These systems connect to your home wiring so you don’t have to worry about disconnecting them in winter or changing the batteries. Hardwired systems require buried pipes and tubing in the ground for the most part, so they are expensive and labor intensive to install.
Hardwired systems are the pinnacle in garden watering. They allow for more zones of flexibility, sometimes even more than 10, so that you can customize it to your needs. These systems are the best for watering lawns, since most lawn watering systems are not efficient to run off a basic timer and hose.
When you are choosing a garden watering system, choose a system that works with your budget. Most home garden watering starts with hoses and step up from there as the garden learns what they need. Account for the time that you spend watering your garden, as well as the lost money from dead plants. If you don’t want to worry, make sure to request drought resistant or water wise plants. I have found several beautiful varieties that require less watering attention and I don’t have to worry about them as much.