How to Make Watering Your Vegetable Garden Easier

Use these tips and tricks to make watering your garden easier and more effective.

Use these tips to make watering your garden easier and more effective. Find out how much water your garden needs, how to take care of your hoses, and how to avoid wasting water. Here's how to water your vegetable garden.

How to make watering the vegetable garden easier

The heat and thick humidity of summer have arrived in Oklahoma, and even the morning and evening hours are hot and extremely sticky.

Years ago, I would sometimes just quit watering the garden because it was too hot and awful to stand out there in the oppressive heat. 

By then, the weeds had probably overtaken my garden rows and perhaps bugs had wreaked havoc on my plants. No wonder I'd give up.

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Fortunately I've learned a few things since then. I thought I'd share my tips for making it easier to water the vegetable garden - and any flowers you might have growing too.

In this article you'll learn how much water your garden really needs, some tips on watering and some products that might be handy and helpful.

My best tip: Use a water timer

The Chief and I are both guilty: we tend to leave the water on when we fill the water troughs. Sometimes overnight. Sometimes even longer than that.

I was desperate to stop wasting water and money! I finally bought a water timer and now I'm constantly recommending it to people. 

Honestly, I hate admitting that I was so careless as to leave the water running like that, but if I can help one person save money with this tip it's worth confessing.

That water timer has saved me so much money over the past couple of years!

When I turn on the hose I set the timer to 30 minutes. Hopefully I've remembered to shut off the faucet by then, but if not, the timer is my back-up insurance. 

If I stuck the end of the hose in the horses' trough, walked off and forgot about it, and went in the house without turning off the water, the timer will automatically close the connection to the hose after 30 minutes.

Is that perfect or what?

Amazon carries several water timers; this is the one I use. It has lasted for more than three years and I'm extremely happy with it. 

I even have a replacement timer (the same brand and style) in the shed just in case the original quits working.

Nothing lasts forever, but I'm prepared.

UPDATE: It lasted four years! It finally died this summer (2021) and I replaced it with the other water timer I had on hand. 

Personally, I never turn the water timer dial to "off" if I finish watering before that 30 minutes is up. Instead I turn off the faucet and let the timer run out naturally. 

I also remove the timer from the water spigot during the winter. Maybe these two tips are why mine has lasted so long.

I did have to clean out the inside of my water timer at one point by removing the washer, flushing it out and then reassembling it. It's really been a water-saver and a money-saver for me.

These 8 tips will make watering your vegetable garden easier, and save you money too.

How much water does your garden need?

So how much water does your vegetable garden need, anyway? The generally-accepted answer to that question is one inch of water per week. 

But that's a generalization; it's different for every garden. 

Young plants and container plants require more water more often. High temperatures and wind can wick the moisture out of the ground.

Soil type also affects how much water your garden needs. Sandy soil needs more water. A garden that is rich in organic matter will require less water. 

(Compost will add organic matter to your garden soil, and it's so easy to make your own. Find out more about composting here.)

Mulching your garden helps prevent evaporation and keeps your soil moist and cool. 

I use whatever I have available as mulch: dried grass clippings, autumn leaves, straw (beware of weed seeds in hay), and leftover bags of the wood shavings that I use as bedding in the chick brooder. 

Wood chips are a great mulch, but not all wood chips are created equal. Learn more about using wood chips as mulch here.

A two- to four-inch layer of mulch is the most effective for keeping your soil cool and moist. Keep the mulch at least one inch away from your plant stems.

When and how to water your garden

The best time to water the garden is early in the morning or in the evening when the heat is less likely to evaporate the water. 

If you water in the evening be careful to keep water off the plant foliage. Damp foliage is more likely to develop fungal problems.

Sprinklers and spray nozzles make watering easier, but using a soaker hose or watering by hand with a hose or watering can will also help prevent damp foliage and fungal issues.

Watering deeply but less often encourages plants to grow deep root systems, which increases drought tolerance.

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Use rainwater

Plants like rainwater better than water from a hose. Maybe that isn't a scientific fact but that's what I've noticed in my own garden. 

Well water is also better than city water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.

Save rainwater if you can to use in your garden. You can put a rain barrel under your downspouts, for instance. 

I use the rainwater that collects in buckets, the horses' feeders and the wheelbarrow to water my garden.

Water reservoirs

Water reservoirs will help get you out of the heat faster and put water right at your plants' roots where it's needed.

Cut the top off of a two-liter soda bottle and punch small holes in the sides and bottom. Bury this reservoir next to a plant and fill it with water. 

The reservoir will allow the water to drip out slowly right at the plants' roots where it's needed most.

It's a great way to give more water to plants that need more while not drowning others that might like a drier soil.

Water reservoirs work especially well in containers, dispensing water over a longer period of time than a hose or watering can would. 

Water tends to run right out of containers, but reservoirs allow the roots more time to drink it up.

Make watering your garden easier this summer with these 8 tips.

Take care of your hoses

Hoses are expensive! Keep them out of sunlight when you're not using them. Don't drive your car over a hose. Put them away in the winter.

If you have a split or broken hose - or if your dog likes to chew on hoses - here's a tutorial on how to repair a leaky hose.

Use a soaker hose

Soaker hoses are a great way to water your plants slowly - which they love - and to minimize the time you have to spend in the summer heat.

Use a soaker hose in your garden to help your plants thrive. This article contains 8 tips to make watering your garden easier.

Sunlight will weaken a soaker hose quickly. They'll last longer if you cover your hose with several inches of mulch. 

Keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the stems of your plants.

Make it easy to water your garden

Your garden should be located in a spot that's near your water source. My first garden was a total, complete failure because I ignored this very important fact.

There are ways to move the water closer to your garden though. 

For instance, we had two 50-gallon plastic barrels next to the barn, where they collected rainwater from the roof. The Chief added a water spigot (hose bib) to each barrel, about four inches above the bottom.

The barrels sat on concrete blocks to raise them off the ground far enough that we could fit a bucket underneath the spigot, or we could attach a hose to the spigot. 

If you have a rooftop nearby, a rain barrel like this is a great way to bring water closer to your garden.

We lost the barrels when the barn burned down, but the Chief came up with an alternative, using what we had on hand.

These 8 tips will make watering your garden easier, and perhaps even save you money.

We moved this 250-gallon tank from the horse barn and set it near the garden on top of two rows of concrete blocks. 

The Chief rigged up a "funnel system" to catch rainwater and fill the tank. He set a small black rubber trough on top of the tank, cut a hole in the bottom of it and glued a funnel in the hole.

If there isn't enough rain and we need more water, we fill it with the hose.

I can water the garden from this tank without having to lug the hose across the yard in the heat. (Be sure to put a tank or barrels up high enough off the ground to have good water pressure coming out of the spigot. Let gravity help you.)

Using these tips and tricks, I've kept my garden watered through the hottest part of summer and have been rewarded with a plentiful harvest each year. I hope these tips are helpful to you too.

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Do you struggle to keep your vegetable garden watered? Learn how much water your garden needs, and use these tips to make it easier.


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