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Aside from the sun, water is among the most significant factors that dictate how well garden plants do.
Too little water and your plants are doomed to dry up and wither away in no time. But, over-watering your plants can be just as detrimental to their well-being as under-watering.
In this piece, we discuss everything you need to know about watering your own garden. That includes how much water the most common fruits and vegetables require.
How Much Water Do Garden Plants Need?
As a general rule of thumb, garden vegetables need approximately an inch (or two) of water each week. This amount of water can be delivered bit by bit each morning and evening, or through one or two watering sessions throughout the week.
However, this is not always the case as gardens are not all the same.
Depending on what your growing, as well as the climate, how much sun your garden gets, weather, and other important factors, your vegetable garden may require more or less water than the norm.
Keep in mind that many garden vegetables are practically nothing but water in the first place. Many vegetables are made-up of somewhere between 80 percent and 95 percent water!.
Keeping them properly hydrated is crucial for their growth and development throughout the gardening season.
How Much Water Do Fruits and Berries Need?
Fruits and berries, when it comes right down to it, aren’t much different than vegetables (other than in taste). Likewise, they require an almost identical amount of water as vegetables do.
For berry bushes, one and a half to two inches of water per week is plenty. In some cases, they may not require watering for close to 10 days.
Without proper watering berry bushes have a hard time kicking into veg-mode (when they start growing like crazy for the year) let alone beginning to form decent clumps of berries.
The best way to water berries is via a drip-line or by hand because you want to avoid getting the fruits wet. Wet berries are prone to rotting, watering only the roots helps to avoid this pitfall.
When it comes to fruit trees, specifically young ones, watering isn’t required as often. Young fruit trees should be watered up to two or three times per week. But, only when the first couple of inches of soil is bone-dry.
Keeping your fruit trees watered properly helps them to develop stronger and larger root systems. It also encourages them to support more flowering and produce tastier fruit.
How Much Water Do Flower Gardens Need?
Flowers require perhaps the least amount of water of all the common plants in your yard (aside from succulents, fully-mature trees, and a few other specific species).
One inch of water per week is enough to keep most flowers healthy and flourishing. This amount of water can easily be delivered in just one or two watering sessions.
If your flowers are located in quick-draining soil, you may even get away with just a single half inch of watering per-week.
For flower gardens with mulch, one good watering per-week should do the trick. Flower gardens with clay soil also get by with a single watering in most cases.
What Is the Best Time of Day to Water Garden Plants?
Most gardeners agree that watering gardens is best done in the early morning before the sun begins to heat everything up.
As the old saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” It is the same with gardeners; the early waterer gets the sweetest fruits and tastiest vegetables from their garden in the long-run (or so we keep telling ourselves as we climb out of bed with the sunrise each morning!).
At any rate, late morning is also a suitable time for watering (so long as you avoid wetting the leaves and/or tops of your garden plants.
Dusk is another popular time to water plants as the sun is fading and the temperatures are much cooler than during the day. Its also a great time to water your gardens if you wake up too late to get it done in the morning.
All things considered, the best time of day to water your garden depends on you.
What Is the Best Method For Watering Gardens?
Now that we’ve talked about how much water garden plants need, let’s briefly discuss the best garden watering methods.
Watering cans are as old-fashioned as it gets when it comes to watering garden plants. Simply fill the can with water from a water source of your choice and carry it to your garden. Tilting the watering can allows water to sprinkle out and onto the plants.
This method is one of the most labor intensive and therefore is typically reserved for small gardens, containers, and seedlings.
If you decide to go this route, keep in mind that it is best to avoid watering plants from top to bottom. Rather, you should aim for the soil at the base of the plants, avoiding wetting the leaves of the plants and instead soaking their roots only.
Using a hose is another popular method for watering the garden. Most people who use garden hoses stick a finger or thumb over the end of the hose to make it spray.
But, merely allowing the water to flow from the hose and onto the soil is also ideal so long as you don’t over do it. Keep in mind that using a garden hose is an easy way to overwater your plants if you’re not paying close attention.
Over the years sprinklers have become more and more popular of a garden watering method. This is due in part by the pure simplicity of the system. Just place the sprinkler in your garden, attach it to a water hose (connected to a water source), and turn on the water.
Sprinklers are even more tempting to use as a primary water gardening method because they require virtually no work on the gardener’s behalf.
That said, sprinklers are not highly suggested by many gardeners due to how wet they leave the tops of plants on a regular basis (every single time they “sprinkle”). This can lead to rotting plants as well as the spread of diseases.
Last but not least is the water-jet, also known as a hand-sprayer attachment. These bad boys screw right on to the end of your garden or utility hose. It doesn’t get much easier to water the garden than using a water-jet.
Using a hand-sprayer to water the garden can be more enjoyable than other garden watering methods as it requires little work. Water-jets also come with various settings that make them extremely versatile for watering a wide-range of plants.
Personally, water-jets are one of our favorite tools for watering our gardens due to the level of control they give you. We use one for fruits, vegetables, and trees, and have zero complaints.
Signs That Your Garden Plants Are Overwatered
Sometimes, we get carried away and give our plants too much water. Storms also have a funny way of showing up out of nowhere (especially right after watering our gardens).
Here are a few signs that your garden plants are overwatered:
- Wilting and wet plants that are still green
- Brown leaves on plant with wet soil
- Falling leaves, both green and yellow
- Blisters, lesions, and scar tissue (also known as Edema)
- Slimy brown or grey roots (also known as root rot)
Some gardeners suggest choosing plants that require less water, to avoid overwatering. We feel as if this sort of defeats the purpose of gardening, growing the vegetables, fruits, and flowers, you love.
Rather than choosing plants that don’t take much water, take the time to educate yourself about the various plants you wish to grow. Also, be aware that practice makes perfect – so don’t be afraid to make mistakes with your garden plants!
Signs That Your Garden Plants Are Underwatered
Just as overwatering causes typical indicators with your garden plants, letting you know that you messed up, so too does underwatering.
Here are some of the most significant signs that your garden plants are underwatered:
- Classic wilting leaves
- Completely dry soil
- Crispy brown tips of leaves
- Slow or no growth
- No response when watered
If you believe your garden plants may be suffering form underwatering, simply give them a refreshing bath. Plants that are indeed underwatered should bounce right back.
Plants that do not bounce back after being watered are more than likely being affected by a disease or some other factor rather than being underwatered.
Garden Watering Tips and Tricks
We’ve covered just about all there is to discuss about watering garden plants by now and hopefully your questions about how much water garden plants need have all been answered.
But, just in case, here are a few bullet points that recap most of what we’ve talked about, as well as some garden watering tips and tricks you should be aware of:
- Apply 1 to 2 inches of water each week
- Water your plants as early in the day as possible
- Avoid wetting the tops and leaves of plants
- Aim for the roots and water deeply
- Water as many plants by hand as possible
- Use mulch to help hold in the moisture
- Water water-hungry plants (such as tomoatos) with a hose
- Understand your garden’s soil type
- Remove damaged, dead, or otherwise unhealthy leaves
- Watch your plants and look for signs they are overwatered or underwatered
- Keep an eye on your soil’s moisture level (4 to 6 inches is ideal)
- Consider installing a rain gauge in your garden
- Use rainwater on your plants as often as possible
- Consider installing a drip irrigation system
A Final Word About Watering Garden Plants
As you’ve probably guessed by now, watering a garden, and gardening in general, has a lot in common with politics and religion. Everyone has their opinions (usually extremely strong ones) and tend to be set in their ways.
All things considered, there are no absolutely correct answers to the question, “how much water do garden plants need?”
The answers depend on you, your gardening style, soil type, the plants you’re growing, how much sun your plants receive, the weather, climate zones and so much more.
Keeping in mind all of the information presented here in our article, you should have no problem properly watering your garden plants.
Just make sure you avoid watering your garden in the middle of the day (when the sun is out in full force) as well as avoiding misting your plants and/or spraying their leaves/tops often, and you should do just fine.
Also, remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Do you have a watering tip or trick that you’d like to share with our audience? Or a question about watering your plants? If so, feel free to leave us a comment below!
Good luck with learning to properly water your garden!
Suggested Reading: How Much Sun Do Garden Plants Need?
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