Standing outside with a hose or watering pot can be an effective and therapeutic way of watering your garden, but it’s often not enough to get the job done. And when it’s the middle of a baking summer, it’s not exactly what you want to be doing anyway!
Instead of doing the heavy lifting, why not go for something that’s a little more automatic? Irrigation systems are a little more advanced than your average DIY garden job, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s for professionals only. Here are 4 that you can employ yourself.
Before we go into the DIY projects, let’s go over some basic advice first:
- Mulch, mulch, and mulch! When it comes to moisture retention, mulch is key to your garden. It’s also key to reducing runoff, which can lead to a huge waste in water.
- Don’t stick to a formula. The amount of water your plants need depends on several factors; don’t stick to a specific formula, but instead keep an eye on the weather, the soil, the type of plant, and the season.
- Don’t overdo it. When you’re using a run-of-the-mill garden hose (which is absolutely fine!), remember not to overdo it. Limit water wastage by using a spray nozzle and butterfly valve, which will help regulate flow.
- Focus on the roots. It can make your job a little bit harder, especially when you’re doing things manually, but always focus on the roots. That’s where the magic happens, not on top of the leaves. It’s not only a waste to not do this, but it can also spread disease.
Method 1: Soaker Hoses
The basic soaker hose is affordable, effective, and easy to install. They’re usually made out of recycled tires with a bunch of tiny wee holes; water seeps out of them to drip into the root of your plants. Once you’ve hooked your system up to a faucet, all you need to do is turn on the water.
The downside? Because they wind around your entire garden, you will water areas that don’t need as much as others. However, soaker hoses are very efficient, using as little as 20% of water compared to your average garden hose method.
Method 2: Sprinklers
You’ve undoubtedly heard of the sprinkler system. They’re affordable, easy to install, and extremely effective. Attach them to a hose and you’re ready to go. You can buy advanced versions, which include oscillation, sweeping, arms whirling, and pulsating features. They can also be set to cover a specific radius, as well as setting timers. And who doesn’t love running through a sprinkler system on a hot and sunny day?!
In addition to the standard above-ground version mentioned above, you can alternatively install in-ground sprinkler systems. The heads aren’t connected to a hose, but to a pipe system installed underground. The advantage of this system is that it usually allows for a more advanced setup, and it’s also aesthetically subtle.
Method 3: Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation systems implement a network of pipes throughout your garden, with emitters positioned at each plant or flower ‘station’. The water is released slowly over time, which improves water retention and prevents runoff.
This system is perfect for vegetable patches, flowerbeds, and borders. Drip irrigation allows you to be very precise with the volume of water, ensuring your garden gets just the right amount.
Method 4: Buried Reservoirs
When I first saw the clay olla, I thought I was looking at an archaeological find. It certainly does not look like an irrigation solution! Nevertheless, it’s a very effective and simple way of irrigating your garden.
The idea is this: fill each olla with water and bury it in your garden (except for the top!). Over time, the water will seep into your garden from the porous olla. It works on the basis of soil tension and osmosis, and has been used in ancient China and northern Africa. I recommend using these as supplements to other methods, as they probably won’t be enough for your entire garden.
Final Words of Advice
We’ve given you a variety of methods, but that doesn’t mean you have to pick just one. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s possible to mix and match, and in the end, it’s also very much dependent on your specific needs as well as your garden setup.