Plants require adequate moisture to be healthy and vigorous. However, plants don't go on vacation when you do. Automatic watering, whether garden irrigation or for houseplants in containers, allows flexibility for when watering occurs and can often conserve resources. Plan properly before obtaining garden irrigation supplies.
There are several types of automatic plant watering systems. There are stand-alone types, such as pots and planters with water reservoirs, decorative glass globes that hold water and those that work by capillary action. If a more substantial system is needed, sprinklers and drip tubing attached to a timer are easy ways to water a garden. Some extensive sprinkler systems even use in-ground sensors to further simplify the process.
When deciding which type of system to use, cost, portability, plant-type water needs and varying soil types need to be considered. Extension offices are a recommended resource for proper growing information. Culture practices such as how much fertilizer is used, mulching, pruning, site location, climate and plant spacing all affect how much water is needed and which type of automatic watering system to use.
The benefits of automatic watering are plentiful--less hands-on time spent watering plants, healthier plants that reach their potential and fewer outbreaks of pests and disease. Also, automatic irrigation, when implemented correctly, will help conserve water. Less time watering plants means more time enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Basic automatic watering is fairly simple. The stand-alone types require a little more attention because of their limited water supply. Water is added to a reservoir which is slowly released to the soil as needed. Another basic stand-alone watering system is the probe type which uses tubes and ceramic cones to draw water from a separate container into the soil. These are useful on a small scale for houseplants or container plants.
Sprinkler systems and drip tube irrigation work well for a garden or greenhouse. These systems attach to a water supply, even just a hose, and then attach to a timer which is set for the desired time and duration of watering. These systems work best if timing schedules are adjusted according to soil moisture content needs.
Automatic watering for plants doesn't need to be expensive or require expertise to set up. There are systems available for most every situation. Automatic irrigation isn't foolproof, however. Care needs to be taken to be sure the system you choose is adequate for your particular garden. Timers and sensors are very helpful, but the human element is important to ensure proper function, whether it's turning a timer off during a rainy period or refraining from watering during the hottest part of the day.