How Do You Irrigate Your Garden?

| 6/3/2009 2:20:46 PM

Tags: irrigation, watering, question to readers,
Conventional sprinklers, drip or soaker hoses, or ditches along the rows — tell us what works best for you and why? Please post your response in the comments section below.
lori haynes
5/17/2012 2:03:02 PM

Olla (clay pot) irrigation. Fill the ollas every few days. Significant water savings. Less time spent watering. Fewer weeds. Easy to use my collected rainwater. My plants love it! The water conservation is primary for me because my whole house is on rainwater (not uncommon in my area of Texas) and that leaves very little water for irrigation. Perfect solution.

sharon ilg
6/30/2009 7:22:57 PM

I forgot to mention my husband does drywall so I have tons of buckets. with gypsum in it great for the garden, I also add sheetrock to my garden it's all natural and that has lime(calcium) in it.

sharon ilg
6/30/2009 7:19:46 PM

I use 5 gallon buckets in my garden I drill holes on the side where the plants are I fill the buckets with 1/4 sheep manure and rest water that I collect off my roof into pickle barrels.. I don't put a lid on the bucket I catch chipmunks too!

rose marie
6/29/2009 6:43:51 PM

We live in south Texas, and it can get pretty hot. Ten years ago, we decided to Green up our watering. When we bought the house, it had a drain that empties in the back yard. The water comes from the kitchen sink and washing machine. To use this free water, we just re-do a small ditch every year, about 4" deep, 6 feet or so long. I plant my tomatoes on both sides. I fertilize with sheep poop, and I have enough tomatoes to last until the next season. We do a load of laundry every three days so the garden gets plenty of water.

6/22/2009 5:33:54 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. Because we have no outdoor spigots, we've had to hand carry water from our basement out to the flowerbeds. After seven or eight trips with a watering can, we are getting a good workout. This year, Hubby fastened a length of clear tubing to the outside of the window AC and now we are catching the -- free! -- water in a 32-gallon plastic trash barrel. So far it's filled twice. We just take off the lid, and dip out the (very warm!) water. It's just a few feet from the garden beds, so it doesn't take long for all the flowers to get a drink.

jim walts_2
6/21/2009 4:30:35 PM

Since I don't have a water source that is close to my garden I dug a 6 foot deep about 30 inch diameter well, put a frame with a pitcher pump over it and a 55 gallon drum set up with a hose bib. When it rains I pump the water into my barrel. So far I have had more water than I need!

brian j
6/17/2009 2:32:16 PM

Is there a concern with using runoff water from the roof that chemicals from the shingles leach into the water? Is it safe to use roofwater on food crops?

6/11/2009 7:11:33 PM

Awesome work George! If anyone else is looking to get into rain catching, I suggest looking into Greenhome teaches you how and carries specific products to make rain catching simple. Then you can recycle the rain to irrigate! Greenhome also has water-saving soaker hoses, a good add-on to a rain catchment facility. I like the Rain HOG:

walter galloway_2
6/9/2009 2:50:46 PM

If you are using a drip irrigation or soaker hose, you might want to check out This looks like a promising new product for low flow applications.

cindy scott day
6/9/2009 10:58:25 AM

My absolute favorite way to water my garden is to set my eight-year-old granddaughter loose with a hose and let her do it. It's play for her, and my garden always gets a good, hearty soaking. She's here more days than not, so until she loses interest, I'm going with Jadyn. Check out this post on my Garden Newbie blog: A child's view of my garden:

6/8/2009 9:13:09 PM

We use drip irrigation and have set up 2 rain barrels this year. We are lucky to have a good well and a separate cistern that refills overnight from an underground spring. We use a small sump pump to pump the water from the cistern. The garden is slightly downhill from the rain barrels and cistern so gravity takes the water to the garden and through the irrigation system. Thanks for the great ideas in the previous messages. We were wondering how to keep the bugs out of the rain barrels, we made lids but love the idea of minnow or gold fish. We are also going to try the plastic jug method of watering~thought that was a clever idea. This is the 5th year for our garden, seems to get bigger every year and 2nd year of canning. We both have somewhat stressful jobs and working in the garden has therapeutic effects as well as providing safe food to eat and share.

veronica lee
6/8/2009 9:03:07 AM

After preparing the soil for planting and determining the length of the row to irrigate, I cut or connect pvc pipe to the desired length and drill holes down one side (approx 1 inch apart) with a drill (small bit) which will be the bottom of the pipe when laid. I close off one end and on the other end attach an elbow and then connect a 2 ft pipe (this end will be out of the ground and must point opposite the holes previous drilled in the pipe. I trench the row, lay the pvc pipe (holes down) and then pull the dirt over for the row. The two foot pipe will be extended in the air for the water to enter into the underground pvc pipe. This has encouraged the roots of the plants to grow deeper and when it is really dry and the ground becomes hard, water is still getting to the roots, using less water. Also a good place to add liquid fertilizer. Remember to place a loose cap on the extended pipe to prevent insects from entering in between waterings.

kristina norrad
6/7/2009 7:30:41 PM

i have 5 -45 gallons barrels so far collecting water..right now we siphon drain the tub in summer from bath to bath and water by hand...last fall be made a 30 by 30 foot pond that is full of tad poles..and i mean full..we will pump water from this pond to water the lower garden we are putting in that will raise veggies and greens for the hogs, chickens and phensants...where i make my own soap it keeps the surface hugging bugs in the barrels down....a added bonus..mind you there is not many suds when washing but things are still clean.

alvin bush
6/7/2009 11:52:38 AM

I grew up in south Louisianna in the 60s and for small vegetable gardens having a carpet garden with holes in it for the plants is the best. An old cajun named Rex Hanna who lived near my old home carpeted his entire garden and watered by hand with catchment water dureing times of no rain. The carpet keeps evaperation down and helps with weed control. Later in the 70s I ran across a Mother article "Carpet Your Garden" by John Krill. I now live in north Louisiana where we have periodic droughts. I'm still useing the carpet method but use a new/old twist to water. Milk jugs with ice pick holes punched in the bottom placed by each individual plant. This idea came from a creole friend of mine named Lenny Bonnette who said his grandmother had used it effectively for years. I'm getting together the items for a catchment system but I'm currently useing well water for my watering needs.

6/6/2009 2:03:44 PM

I put a catch basin into my kitchen sink. When I'm waiting for the hot water to warm up I catch the water. When I'm rinsing out cans to recycle, I catch the water. Water from flower vases, rinsing out the coffee pot, and water leftover in my water bottle go into the basin. In fact Any water that doesn't have soap in it goes into the catch basin, and then out into the garden. Not only does my garden get watered but my water bill has also gone down! I didn't realize just how much unused water went down the drain.

6/6/2009 12:44:58 PM

I have ducks in my backyard so I have learned to keep their wading pools by my garden and every few days I dump the pool into the garden. A double whammy since I also fertilize with "duck poo" water. Sounds gross but seems to work just great!

johna delano
6/6/2009 10:16:48 AM

My husband & I use soaker hoses with sections of old "regular" hose in areas where we don't water. We also have a system of interconnectected rain barrels to offset extensive times of no rain(our well can't handle house & garden).Just remember to use mosquito dunks in the barrels if you don't have goldfish.

tom marsh
6/6/2009 2:09:28 AM


richard craig_2
6/5/2009 6:56:53 PM

i have for a number of years used drip irrigation,i started with drip tape w/12" spacing for the little water holes in the drip tape, but later found out that i could get drip tape with 8" spacing, for me this is a lot better, you can water your compete row with out wasting water, and in a shorter time, i use big rows, 48", and depending on how dry it is i can irrigate my garden in 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. i use a timer that sells at Wal Mart for around 10 bucks, i might also say that my drip calls for a 10 lb.pressure regular, which i got from the same Co. that i got the drip tape, i reuse this tape year to year,one needs to get some spare parts when he goes to drip tape,such as parts to splice the tape should you cut it or need to add on, bottom line it is a little costly getting in to drip tape but once in it sure makes your job a lot easer, another plus for drip tape is that you water just your row and not the middles to go more weeds, and you can walk in your garden while and after you water

6/5/2009 6:41:48 PM

String a Soaker hose around plants and place wheat straw or what ever is available (Grass clippings)over the hoses creating a mulching affect. I have mine on a seven day timer ran by batteries. I water 15 Min. every night. My water bill goes up very little The mulch keeps the weeds down so very little work is involved. I put out 24 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants watermelons cantaloupes cucumbers, Turnips etc. I spend very little time in the garden and it does real well. Hope this helps someone. Scotty.

linda werner_3
6/5/2009 6:24:08 PM

I like to hand water with a watering can. It works for me because I have a small kitchen garden, five raised beds of various sizes, and usually get almost enough rainfall here in Beaver, Oregon (south Tillamook County on the Oregon Coast). I have a rain gauge and keep track of weekly rainfall. When my raspberries need watering, I'll set up a sprinkler attached to the top of a fence post and give them a good shower, but that's only once or twice a season. Once any newly planted landscape plants (annuals or perennials) are reasonably established, I'll hand water with a hose pretending to be an oscillating sprinkler! All my watering is done in the morning after I've had my tea and the cats, birds, and goat have been fed.

rebecca hewitt-walraven
6/5/2009 3:06:26 PM

Here in East Texas, we have sand down to 40 feet, so our garden dries out very quickly. For years, we have used gray-water from our washing machine and it flows to the garden via PVC pipe. In the sections of pipe that are in the garden, my husband drilled drain holes for the water to soak into the soil. Our next project is to figure out how to take all of the gray-water from the house to reuse in the garden and yard.

6/5/2009 2:24:32 PM

Any new items that make drip irrigation easier? Thanks in advance.

6/5/2009 1:59:28 PM

I do mostly container gardening, but I've used the same system with my regular garden and it works well. I set up an automatic waterer to a garden hose and sprinkler, and have it turn on once a day at the same time, for 20-25 minutes. I find this practical since we travel a lot, and I don't have to worry about everything drying out while I'm away.

6/5/2009 1:25:02 PM

I bought a small pond or fountain pump and tubing at a local hardware store (it cost around $20). It is small and I run the gray water out of my sink after washing dishes or when waiting for the water to turn hot. We are vegetarian and use biodegradable dish detergent. I use this water for grass and flowers. It does not look great but I sat up a nicely as possible. I am waiting on someone to invent a more ascetic gray water sink pump. I can send a pic of how it is set up

jessica olsen
6/5/2009 1:17:22 PM

I installed gutters and a rain barrel on my shed right in the garden. I attached a short hose with a watering wand to it so that it has just enough pressure for me to get water to all the vegetables. It takes a bit of time, but I don't have to lug water across the yard as often.

mary ann miller
6/5/2009 12:38:00 PM

I use gallon jugs to water my larger vegetables, such as tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I make a couple of small holes in the bottom of the jug and place it near the plant to be watered. When filled, the water seeps into the ground, hydrating the plant slowly and without getting the leaves wet. It has worked very well.

lisa d.
6/5/2009 11:44:47 AM

We engineered a series of ditches along our rows and allow gray water from our washer to water our garden.

alan jones_1
6/5/2009 10:59:44 AM

Soaker hose, not the kind with the little holes, the kind that kind of sweats. We have 11 200' strawberry rows, and run the hose right down the middle and let it soak for 4-6 hours, and move it to the next row. Gets water right where it is needed and doesn't waste a lot.

jim johnson_1
6/5/2009 10:12:20 AM

We live in northern WI. Lots of sand and very little top soil, I use drip irrigation in zones, with everything set up on timers to run each zone 3 hours every other day. That may seem like a lot of water but we dry out extremely fast. We get our water from our house well, next year will be putting in a well just for the garden, I will drive a well point as we can get water at a depth of 12 - 14 ft so the cost won't be bad. It takes a bit to get everything set up we have 2 - 30' x 60'spots, 8 - 4' x 12' raised beds 60' of 2' raised beds plus the berry patch. This works great for us and saves a bunch of time.

alice rockey_1
6/5/2009 8:30:07 AM

I use a rain barrel, and place two minnows in it to eat the mosquito larvae, then release them to the pond at the end of the season. I "plant" 1-liter soda bottles with the bottom cut off, next to each plant and fill with water from the rain barrel as needed. This way, water goes directly to the roots.

teddy deane
6/5/2009 8:14:32 AM

We live on an island in Washington State at the Canadian border and have a well that pumps slowly and goes dry a couple of times each summer. Contrary to what many of you probably think, it's very dry in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, it hasn't rained for 20 days now. So we have a rainwater catchment system that gathers water from the roofs of our two buildings, stores in a 15,000 gallon tank, then pumps back to the house and garden. We have a big vegetable garden that wouldn't be possible without this system. We use drip irrigation to water the vegetables and also one flower bed. It's so inexpensive and simple to install and adjust, anyone could do it. I supplement with hand watering a little bit but the big watering comes from the irrigation. Try it, you'll like it. You could put the irrigation on a timer and water while you are at work or away from home, I've done that too.

george works
6/5/2009 7:44:15 AM

My wife and I live on a tiny Caribbean island where water is scarce. We collect rainwater from our roof during the rainy season and store it in a concrete cistern under our house for the dry season. For this reason we must be very careful in how we irrigate. Three years ago my wife and I installed drip irrigation in our garden, which has worked extremely well for us. We grow lettuce, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, okra, black-eyed peas, Suriname (yard-long) beans, sweet potatoes, papayas, pineapples, coffee and occasionally cucumbers and melons.

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