There are all types of irrigation to match all kinds of situations, garden sizes and price points.
Sprinklers. misters, drip hose, not to mention a few do it yourself contraptions. Which is best of you and your garden? It depends on what you are growing and what it's growing in.
The general rule of thumb is that each plant will need an inch of water a week. That's a bit broad in my opinion. Container gardens may need more watering than a typical garden and some soils need less water added than others. The best way to tell if you need to water is if you can push your finger down into the soil about 3 to 4 inches and it's dry, it's time to water.
The best type of watering is done less frequently and for longer periods of time. This allows the water to sink into the soil, which means the roots will travel down for water rather than reach for water that is only on the surface. This will help your plants have a deeper more stable roots system.
If you have a container garden or just a very small patch, your best bet is to hand water. You can control the amount of water that goes directly around the plant and it used to the best advantage. Still aim your water for the roots instead of the leaves.
Sprinklers are great for lawns but not so much for gardens. You are watering a wide area, including the weeds and grass in the walkways, which is not want we want. If you do you use a sprinkler make sure to do it early in the day so the leaves will have time to dry before night fall. Wet leaves overnight can lead to mold and other diseases.
If you have a larger area, soaker hoses and drip irrigation are the best way to go. These can be laid right along the plant base and the water is slowly released into the soil in a more economical way.
Soaker hoses are easy to find and are made of a porous rubber or a fabric that emits water all along the hose as a low flow. This works best when you have plants that are planted close together and can be left in the garden all season, make sure to pick them up before winter, cold breaks them down quickly. The drip irrigation is a bit more work and maybe a bit more expensive. It is used for plants that might be growing farther apart. This system is comprised of a soft hose that will have inserts that can be placed where you need them to disperse the water. The down side to these is that the inserts can become clogged and need to be cleaned off. But it does have the best water rationing ability, since it is only used where it's needed. For long rows use multiple hoses, often the plants near the end aren't getting any water in this type of system.
If you're like us and are interested in a bit of DYI we made a system with pvc pipes. It has a "manifold" at the end of the rows where the individual lines connect. We installed valves so we could water different rows at a time. We drilled small holes about 6 inches apart and faced them downward or to the side so it would not spray up but instead towards the base of the plant. There is a bit more to it than that but I'll leave you with this link that gives you the basics. I'll put together our information in another post, so check back after April..lol.
If you want to DYI but have a smaller space and less plants consider using plastic bottles as a seeping watering system. Dig a hole near your plant or in your containers. Take a small plastic bottle and punch small holes around and about half way up the sides. Fill the bottle with water for a test to make sure that the holes are working the way you want. Bury the bottle in the hole and fill with water. It should leak out at a slow pace and concentrate near the roots. You now have your own in ground watering system on the cheap!
No matter what type of watering system you use, mulch will make your job easier. It helps to keep the water from evaporating and prevents weeds, which would love to use that water you just spent so much time putting in.
Thanks for dropping by, leave a message and let me know what kind of watering system you use.
Then check out a few of the other great bloggers in the A to Z Challenge. Come back tomorrow for my "J" plant ideas.