Garden irrigation can be as carefree as you wish. Many modern gardeners use automatic irrigation systems, powered by timers or moisture sensors, to keep their gardens watered year-round. Other gardeners prefer a more hands-on approach, manually watering plants with misting nozzles or watering cans, rather than using automated irrigation systems.
Use drip irrigation systems for automatically and efficiently watering small garden plots. In a drip irrigation system, water drips out of perforated tubing, slowly feeding plants beside it. Drip irrigation does not spray water into the air like many sprinkler systems do, cutting down on water loss by evaporation. A drip system can also be laid out to specifically target plants without watering mulch, hardscape and other empty spaces between. Drip irrigation systems can even water hanging pots, using connector hoses to bridge the distance between terrestrial gardens and elevated planters. Drip irrigation is a good system for vacation watering, because it will work without any supervision. Add a timer to the drip irrigation system to give you more precise control of watering your plants.
If you want to water a large garden or broad expanse of lawn, use an automatic sprinkler system. Place graduated cylinders at varying distances from your sprinklers and turn them on. Then, measure the amount of water that your sprinklers distribute over your lawn. If you find water "holes" between your sprinklers where less water gets sprayed on the lawn, add new sprinklers to fill in the space. If your sprinklers do not distribute enough water or spray too much, adjust the timer circuit so they spray the correct amount of water. Run your sprinklers in the evening or early in the morning so that the ground will have time to soak up the water before the heat of the day. This will reduce evaporation, making your sprinkler system more efficient.
Self Watering Plant Containers
If you want to irrigate a small potted garden and prefer a low-tech solution, use self-watering containers. Self watering plant containers contain built-in reservoirs which automatically drip into the pot over time. These reservoirs keep the soil of the plant moist but not wet, keeping the plant watered for several weeks. Self-watering containers are a good choice for forgetful plant owners who might otherwise neglect a houseplant for several weeks.