How to Water a Perennial Garden


You've laid the foundation for a beautiful perennial garden. You've got plants galore with flowers appearing at regular intervals for continual blooms throughout the growing season. Coupled with the pride in your perennial garden lies the knowledge that your plants may not survive the hottest part of the growing season without your assistance. Learning how to water a perennial garden involves evaluating the soil quality and its ability to hold water. The best soils should retain water to a six-to-eight-inch depth for optimum root development. Since perennials reappear every year, root development should be your primary concern. Let's look at how to water a perennial garden.

Step 1

Schedule watering sessions for perennial gardens early in the morning during the hottest part of the summer. Watering during the cooler times of the day helps prevent excessive evaporation and also protects plants from exposure to the hot sun.

Step 2

Test the soil to evaluate how much water your plants really need. Stick a trowel four-to-six inches down into the soil. If it's damp, you don't need to water. Light, dry soil requires watering. Never water muddy or soggy gardens.

Step 3

Make sure your perennial garden has a three-to-four-inch layer of mulch to keep roots cool and promote water retention in the soil. Mulch also keeps weed growth under control since plants compete with weeds for soil nutrients and moisture.

Step 4

Water at the base of each plant for about 20 to 30 seconds, preferably without a nozzle. Wetting the leaves can waste water since moisture evaporates from the leaves and flowers quickly. Most plants require at least one inch of water each week, with up to two inches per week during the hottest months of the year.

Step 5

Set up a soaker hose by winding it throughout your perennial garden. Turn the spigot on to a very low flow for 30 minutes. Soaker hoses allow water to seep slowly and deeply into the ground without much wasted water.

Step 6

Use a sprinkler sparingly. If this options appeals to you, make sure to set the sprinkler to distribute about one inch of water over your perennial garden. Set out an empty tuna can in the sprinkler path and measure to a depth of one inch in the can. Keep track of how long it takes the sprinkler to fill the can one inch. This will help you time how long you need to run the sprinkler.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose and water
  • Mulch
  • Soaker hose
  • Sprinkler
  • Empty tuna can


  • Washington State University
  • University of Vermont Extension
  • University of Alabama
Keywords: watering perennials gardens, garden watering, caring for perennials

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with over three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.