Busy gardeners don't have time to stand and spray their landscape with a garden hose and sprayer, and in times of drought, it's a wasteful way to water. Instead, try using efficient watering methods, including a few recycled items, soaker hoses, drip irrigation and other creative techniques while keeping your trees and garden happy and healthy.
Gardeners familiar with xeriscaping know that drip irrigation provides the correct amount of water to the roots of each plant -- without soaking the entire garden unnecessarily. The tubing extends from the spigot through the garden, winding past each plant, where one or more emitters sprays water onto the thirsty rootball. With a timer attached to the spigot, a gardener doesn't even have to be home to ensure that the landscape and garden receive sufficient water to thrive without wasting a precious drop. A layer of mulch hides the tubing and also helps conserve water, slowing the evaporation of moisture from the soil.
A large flower or vegetable garden is easily watered using a soaker hose. Soaker hoses are often flat, with a series of holes in the top, or made of recycled materials that allow water to ooze out along the length of the hose. When wound along a row of flowers or vegetables, the soaker hose slowly waters the plants' rootballs.
Gardeners can cover the soaker hose with mulch or bury it under 1 or 2 inches of soil to ensure that the water soaks into the soil before evaporating. This method prevents water from spraying up onto the plants' leaves, which can promote disease. A timer ensures that the garden is watered on time, every time, even if the gardener is at work or on vacation.
Whether homemade or purchased from a garden center, self-watering planters provide an efficient method of maintaining a container garden. Most self-watering planters have two sections: the upper planter where the soil and plant reside, and the lower reservoir filled with water and fertilizer. Depending on the design of the planter, the water is drawn up into the planter by a wicking action, or the plant's roots grow down into the water and nutrient solution. A drain hole drilled into the side of a homemade reservoir, just above the desired water level, prevents you from drowning your plants with too much water. Add more water and fertilizer as needed to keep your container garden green.
Five-Gallon Watering Buckets
Several 5-gallon buckets with four to eight 1/4-inch holes drilled in each buckets' bottom can water a tree while you do other garden chores. Trees require approximately 10 gallons of water for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a tree with a 4-inch diameter needs 40 gallons of water per week. Place four 5-gallon watering buckets equidistant around the tree and inside the drip line, filling them with water. Fill them a second time with more water when they are empty. This ensures that your tree receives sufficient water for the week.
During severe drought conditions, you can also save and reuse the gray water from your morning shower or the final rinse from the washer. When the watering is finished, stack the containers you used in a garage or shed, out of sight until the next time you need to collect water.
A fancy water globe or a recycled, long-necked wine or water bottle pushed into the soil of a container plant, provides water over several days. Fill the water globe or bottle with water, or a water-and-fertilizer solution, and push the neck deep into the soil. The water slowly seeps into the planter, watering the plant's roots. If the water seeps out too quickly, drill one or two small holes in the bottle cap and place it on the bottle before inserting the neck into the soil.
Ollas are unglazed pottery jars, traditional in Spanish culture and adapted to gardening by Native Americans. Buried in the garden with only the top of the jar showing, the olla is filled with water. The water slowly seeps into the garden soil, watering the surrounding plants. The narrow neck of the jar prevents excessive evaporation even in hot weather. In mosquito-prone areas, some gardeners cover the opening with a piece of window screen or a rock to prevent the mosquitoes from using the olla as a breeding ground.
All the Regular Stuff
Other methods of watering include all the regular watering tools found at any garden center, home improvement store or discount store, including garden hoses, hand-sprayers, spray nozzles, sprinklers and watering cans. Water timers are readily available, allowing you to set the date and time for the water to turn on and off. Some water times have several outlets so you can attach more than one garden hose and sprinkler to the same timer.