Water is essential to a healthy garden, and the method you use to deliver water to the plants plays an important role in your gardening strategy. Because you cannot count on rainfall to consistently supply your garden with water, you need to install or implement a specific watering method. This method should supply water directly to the plant roots in the required amounts. This prevents water waste and promotes plant growth.
A soaker hose is a length of hose with small holes evenly spaced along the sides. As the water runs through, it leaks slowly out of the holes, delivering the water onto the soil surface. One end of the soaker hose is attached to your outdoor faucet and the opposite end is capped off. Lay the soaker hose alongside your plant rows so the water can seep into the soil and reach the plant roots.
A densely planted garden benefits from the soaker hose watering method. The holes in the hose are close together so the entire row is soaked, not just the area around individual plants. The disadvantage is the paths between rows may also be watered, thereby increasing weed growth and water waste.
Drip irrigation allows you to direct water to specific areas in a measured amount. Tubing is used to carry the water throughout the garden. The water is directed from the tube through smaller, narrow lengths of tube attached to the primary tube. Emitters, the parts that deliver the water to the soil, are positioned onto the end of the narrow tubing and directed toward specific plants.
Various sized components are available to assemble basic drip irrigation systems for home gardens. The size of the emitter determines the drip rate. For example, a 1-gph emitter emits water at 1 gallon per hour. Use this size for small shrubs or water-thirsty vegetable plants. Use smaller sizes for plants that require less water.
A watering wand is a hand-held device that attaches to your hose. The head of the watering wand resembles a showerhead. Use the wand for small gardens or container gardens. Keep the shut-off valve on the wand to the off position and turn on the hose to a low flow. Point the wand toward the soil around the plant and turn the wand valve to the on position. Move the wand as needed to water all your plants.
The watering wand provides you with complete control over the amount of water you use for any given plant. It can also provide a directed spray should you need to apply water to a plant's leaves and stems. For example, a wand can be used to spray aphids or spider mites off of a plant.