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How to Irrigate a Garden

By Alexis Lawrence ; Updated September 21, 2017

Irrigating a garden can help the plants receive the necessary amount of water at their roots where it is most essential. The irrigation process can also prevent overwatering and the wasting of water when it is done correctly. If you would like to try irrigating your garden, there are a few different ways that it can be done.

Install a sprinkler system. There are overhead systems and in-ground systems available. Overhead units are easy to set up and to move around, while in-ground systems must be partially buried. Sprinkler systems generally waste quite a bit of water unless perfectly aimed, but can be used on nearly any terrain, whether flat or sloping.

Use flood-style irrigation in large gardens and in extreme summer heat. Create a wooden dam around the perimeter of the garden or the yard that needs to be watered with 2-by-4 inch boards. Fill the entire box with water. The water will sink slowly into the ground throughout the day.This will work only on level land where water can spread evenly and when it is hot enough that all of the water will be absorbed in only a few hours.

Try furrow irrigation with vegetable gardens planted on sloping ground. Dig trenches into the soil between the rows of vegetables and fill the high end of the row with water. The water should run down the length of the row and slowly sink into the soil. If water sinks in before it reaches the end of the row, the soil is too porous and several separate ditches will need to be dug in each row instead of one long ditch.

Train plants to grow away from furrows when using the furrow system to keep the fruits and leaves from touching the water. If the plants touch the water, this could cause soil rot.

Create a drip irrigation system for flower gardens. Drip irrigation stems from an outdoor water valve and includes several components which are fairly simple to assemble. Attach a backflow prevention device to the valve, followed by a pressure regulator, an irrigation water filter, a tubing adapter and drip irrigation tubing. Place drip emitters along the length of the tubing at the base of target plants (or at intervals of 18 inches or greater for an overall system) and an end cap on the tubing’s end. As long as the water valve is open, water will be released through the emitters and into the soil continuously.


Things You Will Need

  • Sprinkler system
  • 2-by-4 inch boards
  • Garden hose
  • Outdoor water valve
  • Backflow prevention device
  • Pressure regulator
  • Irrigation water filter
  • Tubing adapter
  • Drip irrigation tubing
  • Drip emitters
  • End cap


  • Use flood irrigation on any type of landscape when alkaline waters have caused a build-up of salt in the soil. The flooding will flush the salts out.


  • Do not use flood irrigation with plants that grow rapidly or with newly growing plants. The flooding will deprive the plants of oxygen and kill them.
  • Do not use flood irrigation with ground-level fruits. Any fruit sitting in standing water will likely rot.

About the Author


Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.