While not every garden plant requires the extra attention, plants that need regular watering, like vegetables, or that need deep watering, like young trees, installing an inexpensive watering system in spring can save you time and money long into the year.
Two simple solutions, drip lines and soaker hoses, work for nearly every garden scenario; veggies by the row, shrubs at the back of the bed, containers and patio gardens.
Unlike a sprinkler, which throws water indiscriminate of whether it lands on lawn or cement, drip and soaker systems place water at ground level, wasting little and conserving more.
Lay out your irrigation system in spring, or at planting time, and rest assured that your most thirsty plants can get well-watered with a flick of the wrist! (That's turning the faucet, of course. Not waving a wand. I wish!)
Anything that grows fruit is going to need a good amount of water. Fruiting bushes use water to fill all those juicy berries and keep their leaves lush so they can catch the summer sun. That takes lots of energy, and lots of water.
GROWING GUIDE: Fruiting bushes will appreciate consistent watering from soaker hoses. Save yourself some hassle and lay out lines in early spring, before blueberries, raspberries and other fruiting bushes are fully leafed out.
Young trees benefit the most from the “deep” aspect of watering systems. Because watering systems are at the foot of the plant, water seeps and seeps into the same spot, allowing more water to travel deeper into the earth. Deep roots are less likely to be stressed from heat and drought than shallow ones.
GROWING GUIDE: Use a soaker hose during the settling-in phase so young trees are encouraged to grow deep roots.
Hydrangeas are woodland plants in their natural habitat. Humus-rich soil and a shady location is all the shrubs need. Oh, that and water. Lots of water.
GROWING GUIDE: Hydrangeas are susceptible to powdery mildew, a scourge made more likely by wet leaves and high moisture. Use a soaker hose to water them at ground level rather than showering from above. Keep the soil moist but not saturated throughout flowering and during dry spells.
It’s quite a broad category, but no less wanting of regular watering. Container-grown plants are in greater danger of drying out because they live in a limited volume of earth. Water evaporates quickly and once dry, those roots have nowhere to run.
GROWING GUIDE: Lay out a drip system that stretches over every container that needs regular watering. Place the dropper in the center of each pot.
Tomato plants produce a whole lotta fruit in a short period of time. Without regular watering you could end up with a number of different problems, including blossom end rot, cracked skin, dropped blossoms and more.
GROWING GUIDE: Use a drip system to water slowly and deeply. Drip systems work great in vegetable gardens because veggies need such consistent attention. Place a dripper at the base of every tomato plant and water regularly.
Broccoli and its cabbage cousins will enjoy a steady drink throughout the growing season. Given a cool location and moist, rich soil you will be rewarded with as many as four harvests.
GROWING GUIDE: Start broccoli from seed, or get ahead of the curve and use starts. Plant them an inch or so deeper than they’re planted in their pot. Use a drip system or soaker hose and don’t let the soil dry out the first four weeks in the ground.