How To Water Your Garden To Get The Best Results

How To Water Your Garden To Get The Best Results. Tips you can use to water your garden more effectively. Another great tool to have in your library to use to start a backyard garden that will fill your pantry and freezer. 

You worked so hard getting things ready for your garden.

You prepped your soil, did the tests and adjusted things to get a good solid foundation. You bought good strong seeds and started them in organic soil.  

You then took those young fragile plants and planted them in perfect rows spaced exactly as suggested.

You finished it all up with a good organic mulch to ensure your plants have moist ground for their roots to take hold and grow strong.

So, you’re good now, right?

Unfortunately, no. Not quite. 

I cannot tell you how many times I would take care to do everything right only to ruin it all with my watering. Little did I know there is a right way and wrong way to water the plants in your vegetable garden and unfortunately for me back in the beginning, I was doing it all wrong.

I was watering my plants the wrong way and at the wrong time of day. 

a patch of zucchini. How to water your garden

Once I learned HOW to water and WHEN to water my garden took off strong and healthy. I now get double the produce from each of my plants. Not to mention the quality of my vegetables is by far the best I have ever had. Now, that I am watering correctly, diseases are infrequent and pests are easier to control

Yes, it’s all in the watering my friends.  

A simple yet crucial task that can be a game-changer if done correctly. On the flip side, it can also encourage disease and pests if done incorrectly.

How to Water your Garden Step by Step  

Step 1.  Know your soil.  

Not all soil is the same and knowing what you have will help determine how often you will need to water. It is always best to test your soil so you can adjust and prepare for an optimum growing foundation. If, for example, you have clay soil, more water will be held in the ground and longer. Sandy soil will hold less water meaning it will dry out faster.  

By knowing just what soil type you are starting with, you will learn to treat your soil and better prepare your ground to hold water long enough to give your plants the moisture they need without allowing your plant’s roots to sit in overly wet ground.

You can improve your soil by adding compost or other organic materials that will create a balanced PH giving your plants the very best growing conditions. 

READ: HOW TO COMPOST IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

Step #2.  Watch the weather.

I know, probably a no brainer, yet if you water blindly you will not get the results you want. Watch your weather and adjust things accordingly. If you have hot dry weather, you will need to water more frequently and for a longer amount of time. This is called a soaking. 

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If you see cooler temperatures, then you may want to cut back on your watering just a bit. If rain is in the forecast, you will still need to check things before adjusting how much and how often you water. 

To test the soil you can poke your finger into the ground at the base of your plant. You are looking for damp and cool rather than dry and hot. 

Step #3.  Know your plants.  

Not all plants need to be watered as frequently as others. Larger plants require more water as do young seedlings. Vegetable plants have shallow root systems so they too need to be watered more often than say trees or shrubs. 

I like to keep track of what I have planted throughout my garden so I can more easily set a schedule for watering. This not only helps me to remember what needs to be done when, but it also is quite useful for anyone that may be filling for me. 

The easiest way to do this is to use a calendar and write in what is to be watered, the time of day, and how much in minutes. Having this all down on paper it allows me to really stay on top of things. Sure, maybe a bit of overkill but for me, it is worth it. A lot of time and money goes into our vegetable garden and we rely on it to fill our pantry and freezer for the winter season. For this reason, it is important I get the best results possible. 

Step #4.  How to water.  

The best way to water your plants is at the roots and close to the ground. The roots are actually what need the water most so focus your attention there. Since most garden diseases originate in the soil, it is important to keep that soil off of the plants and leaves. When watering try to avoid splashing dirt onto leaves, this one tip will go a long way to helping your plants grow disease-free.

Water slowly and keep the ground down off of your plants for a healthier garden. 

watering a garden with a watering can

 

Step #5.  Mulch your plants.

Mulching is an easy way to keep moisture on your root systems longer. Not sure how? Read my post on How To Mulch Your Garden for tips.  This will help you to understand why you want to mulch and what materials are the best to use in your vegetable garden. Mulch acts as an insulator keeping the dirt moist for longer periods of time throughout the day. Mulching will also ensure the soil stays off of the plant when watering.  

I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping the soil off of the plant and it’s leaves. Rule of thumb: keep water at the base of the plant, do not water from the top down. If you must water from the top down, then have a layer of mulch around your plants to keep the ground put. 

To mulch, you can use any organic materials that are healthy for the ground around the base of your plants. Grass from your lawn, shredded leaves, even straw all work great to keep your plant from drying out. 

SLCG PRO TIP: Do NOT use mulch from other people unless you are sure of their garden and lawn care practices. One year I was given several bags of leaves to use as mulch in my garden. A good idea I thought at the time, however those leaves also came with a few pests that I did not have in my area. The following summer my garden was full of hatching larvae that turned into a full infestation. To be safe, only use purchased reliable mulch or mulch from your own property. 

Step #6.  When to water.  

Mornings are the best time to water since temperatures are cooler reducing evaporation. Watering in the mornings is also a great way to keep your leaves from getting mildew. This can happen if you water at night and from the top down. You want your leaves to remain dry to encourage a healthier plant.

If you must water in the afternoon make sure you focus the water at the base. This will keep the water from quickly evaporating in the hot midday sun.

Watering at night is never really recommend especially if you suffer from slugs as we do. The water attracts the slugs and they can do crazy damage to your plants in a short amount of time.  

Another weapon against slug invasion is a Chicken defense, but know what you are doing before attempting this sophisticated technique. Chickens can quickly and efficiently destroy a garden in no time flat. Read how I use my chickens in the garden to learn the best way how. The good news is there is a way to do it without risking your garden. 

 

Step #7.  How much to water.  

If you give a good water, say about 2 inches deep worth, you should only need to water once or twice a week in optimal conditions. This is called giving your garden a “soak”. Watering lightly and daily will only promote weak root systems and result in a poor harvest.

Please remember young plants and seedlings will need more frequent watering. When in doubt check the soil with your finger to see just how wet it is. You are looking for damp, not dry, or over sopping wet. 

Step #8.  What to use for watering.  

The best tool for the job is a soaker nozzle that will allow for drip irrigation.  Drip irrigation is a great way to give a good steady water to your garden that will be entirely focused at the base of the plant.

 

watering a gARDEN with irigation

 

Since we have a well and a large garden we are unable to use drip irrigation. Instead, I prefer to use this soaker wand and I have had excellent results. The long handle helps ensure that water stays down near the roots where it is needed. It also gives a good and heavy shower of water that helps me to give that “soak” I am looking for.

If you have a small garden you can simply hand water with jugs or a watering can and do the job just fine.

 

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BONUS STEP: How to Water your plants in containers. 

If you are a container gardener, then you will want to adjust things a bit when watering plants that are in pots. Too much water and you can drown the roots risking root rot, water too little and you risk the plant drying out. 

watering a plant in a pot

The trick to watering plants in pots is to do a little and more often. That means you are going to be watering your plants at least once if not twice a day. The time you water will still be the same as the tips I gave above but the amount will all depend on the age of the plant and the size of the pot. 

To know how much to water, simply stick your finger into the soil at the base of the plant. If it’s damp you are right on target. Wet means you will need to cut back a bit and dry means you will want to water more frequently. 

 

Knowing how to water your garden is such a simple yet important step new gardeners mistakingly overlook. If you know when and how to water you will not only ensure a bountiful harvest but you will lay a foundation for plants to fight off pests and diseases. Be proactive in your care so you can avoid having to resort to chemicals for help.

READ: ORGANIC GARDENING PEST CONTROL

garden watering tips

How to water your garden the right way. Yes it does matter!

18 Comments

  1. We are SO prepping our yard right now…unfortunately—and you’re going to love this, Tracy–but our HOA does not ALLOW gardens!!!

    Not sure what YOU do, but my middle digit pops up on my right hand and I do it anyway. So we’re sorting rocks, digging up lawn and building grow boxes!

    HAH!

    Take THAT, ya anti-veggie, dirtbags. Gonna get my onions and potatoes any way I can…
    (and BTW–I cut onions like a BOSS.)

    Water is in small supply here in the desert of Utah, AND we have clay, not soil. So I’ve got to find a way to actually create the soil to use I my grow boxes…

    Any suggestions, Tracy?

    Jaime Buckley
    Your BIGGEST Fan!

    1. Hi Jamie!

      We are also in “clay-ville” here in PA. It took me a while to build and create our soil but I am in a good spot now. I added manure, then I purchased a truckload of soil, mixed it all in with my clay dirt, tested then I added more compost, tested again, added more manure, finally tested once more. Now I am at a point where I am good and things are growing just great! Make your adjustments small, test after each and tweak again. You can also purchase your soil to get started mixing it in with what you have. I know it’s a pain but once you get the soil to a good point, you will have wonderful success! Hopefully you can container garden until you get things to a good quality. Good Luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  2. It’s a sunny day finally with a small amount of snow left on the ground. I cannot wait to start planting! My husband usually does the vegetable garden, and our kids stop to help some, but I do the trees, plants, and flowers! Can’t wait!!

  3. I’m going to try some container gardening this weekend. So helpful, Tracy!

    Sue

    1. Good for you Sue! I am so glad….wish I lived someplace warm that allowed gardening in March. But no, I must instead wait for the snow to melt before I can play in the dirt. 🙂
      Tracy Lynn

  4. Dearest Tracy,

    I LOVE gardening! I started my tomatoes and peppers last week and they’re already popping up! So exciting.

    Today I was soo tired and completely out of it, so to focus my mind I started my second batch of seeds. Up next: Kale, Lettuce, Zucchini, and Onions!

    My yard isn’t large and grass does not like to grow (probably because the mice destroy my yard every winter by borrowing) so I’ve given up on growing grass and I’m turning the entire thing into a garden. My next batch will be my squashes. Hehe!

    Thanks for the helpful tips, I think I’ll get my Mulch on this year.

    – Nadalie

    1. Hi Nadalie!
      I am so impressed with your seed starting operation. What a wonderful bounty you will have! How big is your garden?
      We don’t normally start kale, lettuce, zukes or onions. Might give it a try this year. 🙂
      Tracy Lynn

      1. Hi Tracy,

        Sadly it’s not very big, maybe the size of two folding tables?

        HOWEVER, this year I’ve given up completely on trying to grow grass so once the weather gets nicer I’m going out there to dig up all the “sad grass” and create rows for growing all my veggies!

        I’m so excited, it’s been a few weeks since my comment above and they’re coming along nicely!

        Kale is SUPER easy to grow. I think that only 1 plant survived because critters were dining on my seedlings, but we harvested from it at least 4 times.

        yay spring,

        Nadalie

  5. I am also anxious to get out in the garden, and it is warming up here in Ohio. Soon! I work with a lot of drought-tolerant succulents and like to conserve water as best I can. Here’s hoping for a great warm spring.

    1. Kim I am so anxious to get in the dirt I am rushing things a bit! Nothing soothes the soul like working in the garden, don’t you think? 🙂

      Tracy Lynn

  6. In N.Michigan, our sow direct date us June 10 we are a zone 4. I did start cantaloupe seeds inside yesterday. The end if the month will be more melon and lettuce. Can’t wait to start the rest. I do my own goat/horse/leaves and hay compost. Last year was mi first garden, going bigger this year.

    1. Hi Sherry!
      I am starting melons for the first time this year indoors. I have the WORST luck with watermelon and I hope having a good sturdy plant rather than a seed will give me a good headstart. Good luck with your bigger garden this year!
      Tracy Lynn

  7. Love your blog! This year is my first year for a garden. Its very small but I’m excited to grow some veggies and hoping to expand next year. Thank you for the tips!

    1. Hi, Davi!
      Aw, you’re so sweet! I started out small as well. That is by far the best way to garden. If you start out too big, you are just setting yourself up for headaches and heartaches. Trust me, I’ve done the legwork. 😉 I have much more posts for the gardening coming soon, make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any!
      Thanks so much for stopping by,
      Tracy Lynn

  8. Hi there,
    I just discovered your blog and so far I love what I’ve read. I’m in the beginning phase of preparing my garden for the 2nd year. Last year I went full force and planted quite a few different crops. Sadly alot didn’t make it. Mainly because I was in a last minute hurry and alot of the crops wasn’t in the best of spots to get everything they needed to thrive, such as too much or not enough sunlight and inadequate soil. So this year I’m moving practically the entire garden to the opposite side from last years and Im using multiple containers and raised beds so I can place different crops in different areas according to their specific needs. Ive been into growing flowers for many years now but I’m determined to become just as successful with my veggies. So wish me luck and Happy Gardening Yall!!

    1. Hi, Amanda,
      Boy, do you sound like me when I first started out! I must have moved my garden 6 times or so before I found the perfect spot. I am not saying that will happen to you, but I have been there. The beginning was a lot of experimenting but I am happy to say I am in a good spot now and my plants are thriving. Focus on that soil so you have a great foundation. Raised beds are perfect in areas where soil isn’t the best. I can’t wait to hear how you do, keep me posted!
      Tracy Lynn

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