10 Smart Watering Tips for a Healthy Garden | Almanac.com

10 Smart Watering Tips for a Healthy Garden


How to Water, When to Water

The Editors

Watering at the right time, in the right place, and using the right methods can make a big difference in how much water your garden needs. See our article (with video demo) listing our 10 tried-and-tested tips for saving water in the garden.

10 Smart Watering Tips for the Garden

1. Water Only When You Need To

If you’re not sure you need to water, check for soil moisture by digging a small hole with a trowel, or with your finger. If the soil us cool and damp below the surface, leave watering for another time.

2. Time Your Watering

Watering early in the morning gives crops enough time to take up the moisture before it evaporates in the heat of the afternoon. Water-splashed foliage will also have time to dry before nightfall, minimizing problems with slugs and fungal diseases.

3. Take Careful Aim

Direct the flow of water at the base of plants where it’s needed, and avoid splashing the leaves. Watering heavily . A lot occasionally is better than little and often, and will help develop a better root system.

4. Trap Water

Sink plastic pots up to the rim next to thirsty plants such as squash, then water into the pot. The water will be delivered directly to the root zone instead of running off the surface. You can also use an upturned bottle with the cap removed and the bottom cut off instead of a pot.

5. Irrigate Efficiently

Automatic drip irrigation or leaky hoses are less wasteful than using sprinklers. Put your setup on a timer and override it when rain is due. Keep an eye on the weather forecast!

6. Pick Pots with Care

Clay pots wick moisture out of the potting soil and metal pots heat up very quickly, which accelerates moisture loss. Grow in plastic or glazed pots instead. You can hide ugly pots within a more decorative metal or terra cotta outer pot if necessary.  

Cluster pots together to cast shade and slow evaporation further.

7. Add Organic Matter

Soils that are rich in organic matter absorb and retain moisture better, so add well-rotted compost or manure to beds whenever you get the chance.

8. Lay Mulch Regularly

Mulches slow down evaporation. Landscape fabrics will work, or use pebbles and stones on pots. T. The best mulches however are compost and other organic matter, which will also help to feed the plants as they grow. Lay mulches at least two inches thick onto moist soil, and keep them topped up throughout summer.

9. Harvest Rainwater

Locate water barrels or tanks close to where you’ll most need the water. Collect water off your house roof, shed and greenhouse into water barrels. Multiple water butts barrels can be linked together to maximize your rainwater storage. Check local laws on rainwater harvesting first.

10. Keep Your Beds Weeded

Hoe off annual weeds and dig out perennials weeds to prevent them competing with your veggies for the available soil moisture.

See the Almanac Watering Guide with critical times to water and gallons needed for common vegetables.

Sherry (not verified)

1 year 11 months ago

I use a plastic dishpan in my sink to hand-wash dishes that don't go in the dishwasher. Once the water has cooled, I use it to water my plants in pots. The little bit of dish soap may even take care of a few aphids!

Peter (not verified)

4 years ago

When I mulch it attracts snails and slugs quicker they like the damp area. is there something that can be used for mulch that will not attract snails and slugs. Like your videos they do help. Thank you

That’s a tricky one - slugs and snails do like to lurk in mulch! There’s not much we can suggest except to delay mulching seedlings until they’ve grown into sturdy plants that can stand up to a little slug-munching.

T Anne Travis (not verified)

4 years 11 months ago

One side of my house is narrow...I use that area for all my pots growing stuff.....I also lined up rain barrels and heavy duty trash barrels to collect the run off from the roof, as there is no gutters on that side.........I invert the trashcan lids and poke several holes in the center so the water can drain into each rubber trash barrel.........sure does help keep stuff watered....with the best possible water.........city water is just not the best for plants.

John Hazelbaker (not verified)

4 years ago

In reply to by T Anne Travis (not verified)

I cut 5 gallon buckets in half and sink the top half in the ground a few inches when I transplant in the spring. It stops critters from eating my tasty young plants, and saves me money watering the plants. A little goes a long way and my water isn't being used by weeds growing between the rows

Dusty Schwartz (not verified)

4 years 11 months ago

Are use Jugs and water my garden with only rainwater. I water about every three days and not much on plants. Works really good for everything I have usually does better than if I use the hose. I fertilize according to package and a mix that with rainwater also. Works for me.