Written by Colleen McKenna

Water is the essence of life. This includes the life of your plants. Therefore, how you water is critical. The amount  you need will depend on your soil, sun exposure, and type of plants.

Low to high water retention

  • Soil: runs from sandy to clay
  • Sun exposure: runs from full sun to full shade
  • Type of plants: from water plants to drought tolerant plants

Now, a word of warning: drought tolerant does not mean NO water. Even drought tolerant plants need extra water in the first year after planting so they can become established.

Plants need moisture, but not too little or too much. With too little, your plants will droop, dry out, and eventually turn crispy and brown, or what I like to call dead. Too much and your plants will wilt and the leaves will become soft and start to turn yellow, or what I like to call rotting. Yuck.

Plants need long, less frequent watering, to produce deep solid roots. Short, superficial watering sessions produce shallow root systems. This will produce a weak unstable plant.

Watering options:

  • Drip irrigation
    Pro: effortless on your part since the system is automatic
    Con: very expensive to set up, can overwater since the system is not dependent on weather
  • Soaker hose
    Pro: easy to regulate with an attached timer, medium cost to set up
    Con: need to set up every time to water if the hose is not left out permanently, can be unsightly in a bed
  • Sprinkler
    Pro: easy to set up, inexpensive for initial set up
    Con: affected by the weather (for example, wind can misdirect the spray and heat (~9AM-3 PM) can cause greater than 50% water loss)
  • Manual watering (hose or watering can)
    Pro: easy to regulate the amount
    Con: can be time consuming, especially with larger yards.

Choose the option that works best for you. I use a soaker hose, snaked permanently throughout my beds. I find that setting up a timer attached to the hose is a good system to ensure a thorough watering without wastage or overwatering. However, a friend of mine just moves her soaker hose around as needed.

Remember to water thoroughly and wisely.