Effective watering techniques - drip watering, soaker hoses, rain water barrels

A landscape has different areas which all need watering in summer to keep them healthy. The different areas though, such as lawn, vegetable bed and perennial bed, all need water to be delivered effectively which requires different water techniques for each. Critical to all watering is to get water to the root zone of the plants rather than just the surface. If this is done effectively, by watering deeply each time, you reduce the number of times you need to water.

Overhead Watering: This is the simplest system and is good for large open areas such as a lawn. Each blade of grass needs to receive water and the fine spray of an overhead or circular sprayer works well. Unfortunately if you water at midday in full sun, much of the water you send out to the grass evaporates before it hits the ground, so try to time your water for early in the morning, or at the end of the day. Using this type of watering in the perennial or shrub garden gets water onto the leaves of the plants rather than the root zone where it is most beneficial. The prime benefit of these systems is that they are portable and can be taken from the lawn to the vegetable bed or perennial bed in minutes.

Soaker Hoses: Soaker hoses, or leaky hoses as they are sometime called, rely on water seeping though the porous wall of the hose. The slow leak allows water to be delivered along the length of the hose, plus the surrounding few inches. These hoses are great for perennial beds where you have a mass of plants all needing water but they are in a random pattern through the garden. The hose is flexible and can serpent through the bed delivering water to the root zone of the plants along the way. The soaker hose can be buried under mulch to keep the garden looking neat, and is attached to a regular hose and faucet so can be set to run on a timer. Remove and check the hose at the beginning of each new garden year to see if you have holes gushing water along the hose. A few holes can be mended with duct tape, but eventually you will need to replace the hose.

Drip Irrigation: Soaker hoses are great when your annuals and perennials which are close together but if you have shrubs and trees you need something that delivers waters to each one and not necessarily the ground between them. Drip irrigation allows you to send water along a sealed hose until it gets to the area where your plants are. A side shoot takes water just to that one plant. This is particularly good for shrubberies and containers where the items are well spaced.

Hose and Wand: Hanging baskets and containers that are spread widely apart are best dealt with by using a simple hose and wand arrangement. The hose delivers the water to the wand which has a trigger action. Flow of water can be adjusted from a light mist to a stream of water depending on what your plants need.

Mixing the watering techniques will ensure that your entire garden is watered effectively without any excess or waste.