5 Genius Tips to Make Garden and Plant Watering More Eco-Friendly

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How often to water vegetable gardens is one of the most common questions I get. Garden and plant watering is not complicated, but there are a few things you might want to know – especially if you are looking for eco-friendly ways to water your garden.

how often to water vegetable garden

5 Genius Tips to Make Garden and Plant Watering More Eco-Friendly

There are a lot of things that go into making a garden thrive. You need to make sure the soil is healthy, provide adequate water and sunlight, and choose plants that will do well in your climate.

One of the most important factors for successful plant care is regular watering. If you neglect to water your garden regularly, the plants will start to wilt and the leaves will turn brown. The roots will not be able to absorb enough moisture and nutrients from the soil, and the plant will eventually die.

There are a few things to keep in mind when watering your garden. Water is in short supply in many areas of the US and using it wisely is of upmost importance. In this post, we’ll take a look at how to make watering more eco-friendly, different ways to water your garden, plus creative ways to get water to use in your garden.

rain - best water for watering plants

1. Must Know Basics Garden Plant Watering

The first part of watering your vegetable garden with an eco-friendly mindset is to understand your garden’s needs. How often to water vegetable gardens depends on a few important factors. Here are general watering tips to keep in mind when watering your garden:

  • Water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Watering the leaves can cause fungal diseases.
  • If you’re using a hose, be sure to use a gentle setting. A powerful stream of water can damage the roots. Use a setting that mimics the way rain falls naturally.
  • Consider using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. These systems help reduce water waste and can save you time.
  • Mulch your plants heavily with organic matter to help retain moisture.

The Best Water for Your Vegetable Plants

The best type of water for your plants is rainwater. It’s generally free of chemicals and other pollutants that can harm your plants. And it also contains nutrients that you won’t find in drinking water. Collecting it is free and if you live in an area that gets rain, it’s also relatively easy. You can set out buckets, shallow pools, or even rain barrels to collect rain water.

You should avoid using city water to water your garden, as it can contain chlorine and other chemicals that can damage your plants. If you can’t collect rainwater, use distilled or filtered water. If you don’t have much of a choice but to use city water, do some damage control by putting water into buckets and letting it sit out for a day or two so that the chlorine can evaporate.

I do save leftover drinking water for watering my indoor plants. Our water is highly filtered and doesn’t contain chlorine. It’s so simple to dump water glasses in plants instead of down the drain.

best time to water garden

When to Water Your Garden

Certain times of day are better for watering your garden than others to reduce water waste. The best time to water your garden is early in the morning when the temperature and the ground are cooler. The sun is also not as strong early in the morning, so the water will have time to soak into the soil before it evaporates.

If you water in the morning, the leaves will have time to dry off before the sun hits them. This is important because wet leaves can get burned by the sun’s rays.

How Often to Water Your Garden

How often you need to water your garden depends on a few factors:

  • The type of plants you are growing
  • Your soil type
  • The weather
  • The size and depth of your pots or planters
  • If you’re growing in the ground or in raised beds 

Some plants, such as succulents, cacti, and drought-tolerant plants, need very little water. Others, such as annuals and vegetables, need to be watered more often.

In moderate weather, you should generally water your plants two or three times a week. However, during hot weather or if the plants are growing in pots, you may need to water them every day.

It’s a good idea to check the soil moisture before watering. Stick your finger in the soil up to the first joint. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist, wait a day or two and check again.

When watering your plants, try to use lukewarm water. Cold water can shock the roots and damage the plant.

How Much Water to Use on Your Vegetable Garden

In general, a vegetable garden needs about one inch of water per week. One long soaking is better than a short watering spurt every day. The deeper the water goes, the more it encourages plant roots to grow stronger and deeper – the goal for a healthy garden.

When watering your plants, it’s important to give them enough water so that the roots can absorb it. You also don’t want to overwater them, as this can lead to problems such as root rot.

Water until the soil is moist but not soggy. Once the water starts to run off the sides of the pot or pool on top of the soil, you’ve added enough.

If you’re not sure how much water your plants need, it’s best to start with less water and then add more if necessary. You can always add more water, but you can’t take it away once it’s been added. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes gardeners make.

To avoid overwatering, it’s a good idea to invest in a moisture meter. This tool will help you determine when the soil is dry and needs to be watered.

We also recommend investing in a rain gauge. It doesn’t have to be expensive – just a simple tool for collecting rain water so you know how much it rains. Make sure to download my garden journal so you can keep track of the rain you receive. It’s free for email subscribers! Click here to join my email list!

If you’re lucky, you might not have to water much at all.

collecting rain in a rain barrel

2. Collecting Rain Water for Your Garden

Collecting rainwater is an excellent way to get free, quality water. It is a very eco-friendly way to water your garden.

What can I use to collect rain water?

You can collect rainwater by putting out barrels or buckets to catch runoff from your roof. You can also buy or create rain barrels that are specifically designed for this purpose. These barrels have a spigot on the bottom so that you can easily hook up a hose and water your plants.

using a rain barrel to water a garden

How do I water garden plants with rain water?

Place your barrels on a higher level so that gravity can help you water your plants. You can use a gravity feed drip line directly to your plants, or put the rain water in a watering can or a bucket and use that.

3. Using Grey Water for Your Garden

If you live in a dryer climate where collecting rain water is not possible, grey water might be a solution.

What is grey water?

Grey water is any household water that’s been used for washing dishes, laundry, or showering. Usually it just goes down the drain, but you might be able to save and reuse this water for your garden.

To reuse grew water, you’ll need to install a grey water system. This can be as simple as connecting a hose to your washing machine and diverting the water to your garden. You can also buy more complicated systems that are designed specifically for grey water reuse. These systems will filter the water making it a good choice.

Can I use grey water on my plants?

When using grey water, be sure not to use water that’s free of chemicals such as bleach, salt, boron, or borax. These chemicals are toxic to your plants. You’ll want to make sure you use eco-friendly cleaning products that are free from harmful chemicals. Download this grey water compatible cleaning list from the Ecology Center.

What else do I need to know about watering with grey water?

In general, it is not considered safe to water root vegetables with grey water. You can water fruit trees and plants, but not the portion you eat. Some states also don’t allow grey water recycling, so you’ll need to check with the specific grey water codes in your state as well.

drip irrigation to water garden plants

4. Watering with Different Types of Hoses

Watering Your Plants with a Drip Hose

If you want to hook up a hose to your outdoor hydrant to water your vegetable garden plants, there are better versions and not so great versions. Drip hoses are an efficient way to water your garden without wasting water. A drip hose is a soaker hose that has small holes or emitters along its length. The water seeps out of these holes, directly watering the roots of your plants.

Drip hoses are easy to use and can be hooked up to a timer so that your plants will get watered even when you’re not home. They’re an excellent choice for gardens that are on a slope or in an area where water tends to run off, since the water will go directly to the roots of the plants.

Watering Your Plants with a Sprinkler

Water with a sprinkler is one of least friendly methods of watering your garden. While sprinklers are a popular choice for watering lawns, they’re not the best option for gardens. This is because much of the water from a sprinkler will evaporate before it has a chance to reach the roots of your plants.

If you do choose to use a sprinkler, be sure to water in the early morning or evening when there’s less sun and the wind is calm. This will help reduce evaporation.

5. Understanding Your Garden Soil

The soil your plants are growing in also impacts watering. Make sure you know your soil type so you can water most efficiently.

Watering Plants in Clay Soil

If you have clay soil, it’s very important that you water slowly as water runs off clay soil faster than it penetrates the soil. If your soil has a lot of clay, make sure to water slowly over a long period of time. A good way to do this is to use a soaker hose.

Watering Plants in Sandy Soil

Sandy soils post other problems because they don’t retain water very long. If you have very sandy soil, it’s best to water slowly, about two to three times per week. You should still aim to water one inch of water per week, you just want to spread it out over a few different days.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your plants stay healthy and hydrated and you can waste less water in the process. Do you have another tip for watering your garden in an eco-friendly manner?

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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