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Keeping the Garden Watered Frugally and Efficiently

During the hot days of summer, keeping the garden watered frugally and efficiently is important for the health of your plants, and it saves money and time. Here are the basics for keeping your garden alive during the months when it produces the most food.

When do I Water?

Containers and raised beds dry out faster than in-ground gardens, so they require more frequent watering than in-ground plants. The rule with watering anything -- houseplants, outdoor containers, in-ground plants, etc. -- is to water deeply when the soil is dry one inch below the surface. If you aren't sure when to water, consider getting something like this soil moisture sensor from Gardener's Supply.

How Long do I Water?

The duration of watering depends on your watering method; drip irrigation systems will water more slowly than an overhead sprinkler. Making sure you water thoroughly will take some trial and error. Water for 30 minutes, then dig a hole and see how deep the water has penetrated. Adjust your timing as needed to make sure water reaches the plant roots at 4 to 6 inches deep. Water after dusk or before dawn to keep evaporation to a minimum. Mulching well also prevents evaporation.

What is the Best Method?

There is no one-size-fits-all method of watering. For small gardens and containers, a hose end sprayer works well. For large gardens, an overhead sprinkler is a frugal option, while a drip irrigation system offers an efficient use of water. For gardens close to the house, a rain barrel provides the best solution for free, biologically active water which is the best option for a healthy soil environment. Think about your budget and the size of your garden before deciding on an irrigation system. A combination of systems may work well for a large yard; consider a rain barrel for a small garden close to the house and a large overhead sprinkler for the veggie garden.

Dry spells are hard to anticipate but in NWA we almost always have at least six dry weeks in the summer, sometimes a lot more. Have your irrigation plan in place so you are prepared to keep the garden watered frugally and efficiently throughout the growing season.

What is your favorite watering method?



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The Restoration Garden by Tiffany Selvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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