How To Water The Garden Properly?

The importance of irrigation is difficult to overestimate. However, competent irrigation is not just a daily saturation of the soil with moisture, but also a reasonable approach, including the features of the culture and irrigation technology, providing, as a rule, saving irrigation water. It is the techniques that contribute to the retention of moisture in the soil. It is the combination of crops on the similarity in agricultural techniques. It is...etc.

How to water the garden properly?
Pouring the garden. © skh

Types of watering

There are various ways of watering. The choice of one or the other depends on the ability to plan and arrange the site, the type of soil and the crop. In general, irrigations are distinguished by the type of water supply, and allocate: surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, and subsurface irrigation.

Surface watering

It represents the watering of furrows, including circular (around the boles of trees or shrubs), as well as checks and bowls. It is expedient where the surface of the plot is leveled, and the soil has sufficient water permeability.

The watering along the longitudinal furrows

The watering along the longitudinal furrows, is the most common. It is applied at rectilinear planting of crops, and is best suited for beds which have a minimum slope (otherwise, water either runs off too quickly, not having time to soak the soil sufficiently, or stagnates at the beginning of the groove, again, not providing a uniform wetting).

Depth of furrows at such watering can vary from 10 to 15 cm. The distance between the furrows is from 50 to 60 cm on sandy loamy soils, from 60 to 80 cm on loamy loams, and from 80 to 100 cm on clay soils. These recommendations are connected with the fact that on light soils the water mainly goes to the bottom of the furrow, while on heavy soils it is evenly distributed in all directions.

How to water the garden properly?
Tubes for longitudinal irrigation. © multifrog

Washing in bowls or checks

Washing in bowls or checks is used in gardens and is the filling with water, enclosed by a roll of earth around a bush or tree trunk. It is expedient where the soil is characterized by low water permeability. The size of watering area in such case should be equal to the perimeter of the crown.


A no less popular method of watering. It consists in splitting of the water stream under pressure into drops, which is achieved by using different nozzles.

The advantages of such watering are faster and more complete saturation of the soil, the possibility of irrigating areas with a complex microrelief or a high slope, lower labor costs, water savings of 15 - 30% (compared to furrow irrigation), as well as the possibility of full mechanization. Water on clay soils does not penetrate well, and therefore forms puddles, runs down, provoking erosion processes. Another disadvantage is the ability to soak the soil only up to 50 cm on heavy soils, and up to 60 cm on light soils, which is significant when watering gardens and vineyards, requiring soaking the soil to 100 cm

How to water the garden properly?
Sprinkle irrigation

Dripage irrigation

Applying this type of water involves filing in the form of drops in the zone of a large concentration of plant roots and its gradual distribution in all directions. Such irrigation is carried out by means of special droppers, taking into account irrigation norms. The number of droppers is calculated on the basis of the irrigated crop, soil type, plant size and planting pattern (for mature trees it is usually several droppers, for young trees, bushes and vegetable crops - one per plant).

The main advantages of drip irrigation is the ability to use on uneven plots, terrain with a significant slope, the vast majority of soil types and for most crops. Savings of irrigation water under such irrigation are up to 80%. The main disadvantage of the method is a tendency to clogging the system with solid particles present in the water.

In-soil irrigation

This method of irrigation is still little known, but it is quite promising, because it is in the category of the most economical. It consists in the fact that water is supplied under the ground, directly into the root zone, through special pipes-humidifiers. It provides minimum water loss through evaporation, less weed growth (since most of their seeds are in the upper, not wetted layer), creating optimal conditions for plant nutrition.

How to water the garden properly?
Drip irrigation. © Beer-Sheba Project

Types of watering

In addition to the basic methods of watering, aimed at maintaining optimum soil moisture, there are also watering with additional functions. In particular: refreshing irrigation, irrigation with simultaneous fertilizing, watering (or under winter) and frost control.


The need for this type of irrigation occurs when temperatures remain high for a long time. During such periods the plants evaporate a lot of moisture, as a result of which the water content in their tissues is greatly reduced, resulting in difficulties of vital processes.

Refreshing watering during the hot season of the day by means of fine sprinkling (water spraying to a fog-like state) with the interval of 5 minutes every 1 hour. Atomization allows droplets not to drip, but remain on the surface of the plants, restoring their water content and gradually evaporating, cooling their tissues and the surface layer of air.

This type of watering is carried out either with special nozzles, or a sprayer (which is more labor intensive).

Watering with simultaneous application of fertilizers

This type of watering is more cost-effective than watering and fertilizing separately. The benefit is explained by the fact that the nutrients dissolved in water, quickly penetrate to the root area and are better assimilated by plants.

This type of irrigation by adding pre-dissolved or infused fertilizers to irrigation water. The depth of fertilizer is controlled by the time of their introduction: if you want to introduce fertilizer into the upper layer of soil - the solution is watered at the end of irrigation, if deeper - at the beginning.

What can be made simultaneously with the irrigation water? Fermented poultry manure, slurry, grass or compost tea, potassium, ammonium nitrate, etc. The ratio of organic fertilizers should be 1:10 (with water), and mineral 1:100, because in a stronger concentration plants will get burned.

Commonly watering with simultaneous application of fertilizers carried out by furrows or with a watering can. If by sprinkling, it is necessary to rinse the plants with clean water.

How to water the garden properly?
Pouring into special grooves. © FAO Kenya

The characteristics of irrigation water

Not all water has a positive effect on plants. Or rather, there are recommendations for irrigation water temperature and quality.

Extremely cold water, as well as too warm, adversely affects the vital activity of soil microorganisms and the suction capacity of the root system. In addition, watering with icy or hot water causes a temperature shock in plants, manifesting itself in wilting and sometimes dropping leaves. Such reaction is due to the fact that stress inhibits ability of root apparatus to work, while the process of transpiration (evaporation of moisture through leaves) remains at the same level of intensity.

Therefore, temperature of watering water should be oriented to optimal soil temperature, which is the most favorable development of plants, and therefore equate to + 15 ... 25 °C. Consequently, if water for irrigation is extracted from a well or borehole, it must be preheated in a specially designated container installed at the highest point of the plot.

The quality of irrigation water is no less important. Do not use water with a high concentration of salts (high salinity is usually found in groundwater and mine water), undesirable water containing an increased amount of suspended solids (dirty river or lake water). To know the quality of water can be determined by laboratory tests and on the basis of indicators, either to defend it, or purify it by chemical methods, or watering tap water, as it usually has an average value and the presence of salts, and on the contamination of suspended solids. But even here there is a "fly in the ointment" - the presence of chlorine and low enough temperatures, but again, sedimentation allows to cope with them. © Tanksalot

Optimal irrigation rate

Other dangers associated with irrigation are sparse watering and overwatering. The first does not allow the incoming moisture to saturate the root-containing layer sufficiently, resulting in a sharp increase in the concentration of the soil solution and the plants do not get the necessary amount of nutrients. In addition, regular wetting of only the upper layer of soil leads to the fact that the bulk of plant roots are concentrated at the surface, and as a result they do not get enough moisture and nutrition.

Overwatering supersaturates the soil, which also worsens the conditions for suction activity of the root system and causes plant depression. With excessive moisture the amount of oxygen in the soil decreases, the percentage of carbon dioxide increases, root hairs (which absorb water and microelements) are destroyed, and the risk of rot processes increases.

Persistent lack of moisture, as well as regular overwatering, reduce the suction surface of the roots, lead to chlorosis, leaf loss, inhibition of growth processes, reduction of quantity and quality of yield, and in berry and fruit crops even reduction of winter hardiness.

How to determine the optimal rate of watering? In agronomy it is calculated by special formulas based on the constant observation of soil conditions. In the conditions of the vegetable garden, of course, no one will do it. But it is possible to be guided by certain rules.

The simplest of them is to know on what depth should soak the soil under a particular crop. For vegetables it is 30 cm (during the seedling stage 5 - 15 cm), for strawberries 35 - 40 cm, for raspberries up to 40 cm, currants and gooseberries up to 50 cm, for fruit trees and vineyards - 100 cm.

In addition, the need for water in different periods of life in plants is not the same. Most of all the sprouts and flowering period need a stable moisture content, but the plants minimize water consumption to the end of vegetation.

How to water the garden properly?
Surface watering of vegetable garden from a watering can. © Denis Pogostin

Crop peculiarities

Watering the vegetable garden, you should also take into account the characteristics of individual crops.

For example watermelon, melon, pumpkin, corn, fodder grass, beans are able to extract moisture from deep layers of soil and belong to the category of heat-resistant plants. This group also includes the majority of spicy herbs.

Carrots and onions are especially demanding to water in the first half of vegetation, later excessive moisture spoils the quality of their harvest.

Cucumbers, cabbage, radish, lettuce, peppers, eggplants require continuous soil moisture. Potatoes must be watered during flowering. Tomatoes know how to adapt to lack of moisture and like root watering.

Differences in relation to moisture among varieties of one crop are also observed. Early maturing varieties are the most demanding, late maturing ones less so. Strawberries are the most sensitive to irrigation, followed by blackcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, plums, apples, pears, and cherries. Moreover, seedlings of fruit and stone fruits, grown with regular watering, need moisture more than those that initially had to adapt to its deficiency.

How to water the garden properly?
Watering the garden with a drip irrigation system. © gardeners

General rules of watering

If we reduce all watering rules to one list of recommendations, we get the following:

  • Water the plants better early in the morning (before the heat) or in the evening hours (during periods of cold nights, preference should be given to the morning);
  • Watering should be timely and regular;
  • Spring irrigations must be oriented to a shallower (about 10 cm) depth of soil soaking, as the moisture accumulated in the ground is still available for the plants during this period;
  • the higher the temperature regime, the higher the irrigation norm;
  • In cloudy weather the irrigation norm must be reduced, but the rain must not be completely relied upon;
  • The time from seedlings to flowering plants are most sensitive to the lack of water, so it is especially dangerous to neglect the regularity of irrigation during this period;
  • the higher the density of planting, the more abundant the watering must be;
  • more frequent watering is required for crops grown on sandy soils;
  • For the effective functioning of the root system the plants need not only moisture but also oxygen, for this reason it is necessary to prevent the formation of a crust of soil after the irrigation by softening it, which moreover helps to save moisture in the soil;
  • apart from softening, mulching also helps to save moisture in the soil.
How to water the garden properly?
Mulching helps to retain soil moisture

How to save water?

For watering to be economical, certain rules must be known and followed:

  • take care of snow retention, collect melted, rainwater in specially designated containers;
  • timely plant seedlings while there is natural moisture accumulated in the soil after winter;
  • water not often, but abundantly, so that the root system could develop deep into;
  • After irrigation, mulch the soil or loosen, destroying the capillaries of the upper soil layer (agro-fiber can be used as a mulching film);
  • choose the most economical for the given conditions type of irrigation: on flat terrain - by furrows, on a slope - by sprinkling, or relatively new technologies - drip, spot, subsurface irrigation.
How to water the garden properly?
Horticultural tree irrigation system

The application of all these methods in the aggregate allows reducing the consumption of water used for irrigation during the season to 50 - 60%, and with the normalized watering (for example, by means of drip irrigation) to 80%.

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