How to Water Gardens


Water and knowing how to water are essential to successful gardening. Simply pouring water over plants will not work. There are methods of watering, proper levels of water to maintain and methods of conserving water. Watering procedures also depend on the time, labor and size of the garden involved. You may choose a watering can, garden hose, drip irrigation system or automated sprinkling system.

Step 1

Calculate the amount of sand and clay in the soil. Sandy soil doesn't retain water, while clay soil is compact and may not allow the water to go deep enough. Use the jar test to determine the composition of your soil. Put 2 inches of soil in a mayonnaise jar. Fill the jar 2/3 with water. Add 1 tsp. of table salt. Shake the jar well and let the mix settle. Measure the depth of the layers that form over the next few days. Three levels will form: sand, silt and clay. The layer with the greatest amount is the primary type of soil you have.

Step 2

Choose the watering method. You can set up a sprinkling or drip irrigation system with self-timed underground watering, soaker hose or watering can. Use a more automated system for larger gardens, whereas small plots are content with a spray nozzle from the garden hose.

Step 3

Add the organic mulch, which will help the garden retain water in the roots. Use material such as leaves, pine straw, bark, wood chips or hay. Lay out a 2-inch layer of mulch over the garden after planting the garden. Mulch will help sandy soil hold water and clay soil to gain air and loosen up.

Step 4

Water the garden in the morning, so water gets into the root system before evaporating. Water the soil and roots, not the leaves, to allow the water to get into the root system. Watering the leaves can cause leaves to burn or freeze, depending on the air temperature and season.

Step 5

Water the soil to a depth of at least an inch. Use a glass Mason jar to measure rainfall. Measure 1 inch from the bottom of the jar. Mark the measurement with a line. If rainfall reaches the line, watering is not needed. Set a jar into each garden as rain may not reach every garden with the same amount, depending on shading, wind or drainage.

Things You'll Need

  • Mayonnaise jar
  • Mason jar
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Sprinkler
  • Garden hose
  • Table salt


  • Saturday Evening Post: Watering Your Garden
  • University of Minnesota: Soil Type Test
Keywords: watering a garden, soil watering methods, garden watering methods

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.