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The right way to water your garden and lawn



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Make a smart water plan to get the most out of your garden.


Alina Bradford / CNET

Your garden needs less water than you think. Whether there is a drought in your area or you just want to save on your water bill, there are many ways to use less water and still maintain a healthy garden.

Here is a smart water plan to get the most out of your garden without wasting.

Water less, but deep

Many people think you need to water your plants every day to keep them healthy, but that's just not true. Give your plants at least 1

inch of water for one week of watering. If it's raining recently, you can water even less.

The key to watering once a week is to water "deeply". It means watering slowly so that it has a chance to sink into the ground instead of running or evaporating. Deep watering also encourages root growth, making the plants more resistant at high temperatures.

To achieve a deep watering, use soaker hoses or set your automatic sprinklers to run for a short while, pause to let the water sink and then continue to water. (If it sounds too complicated, go down to the section on smart, automated solutions.)

Be sure to measure. As I mentioned earlier, you want at least one inch of water to sink into your plants. With sprinklers, place a simple rain gauge in the middle of your garden to measure the amount of moisture your plants get during a time water session. Adjust your water time accordingly. If you hate several times to control the rain gauge, get a digital version, such as models from AcuRite, Oregon Scientific or La Crosse Technology, that sends readings to your phone.

When using a soaker hose, you may have difficulty guessing how much water your plants get. There is a simple solution. Put the soaker hose out for one hour. Then dig into the soil to measure how far the water penetrated. If the water has not reached enough depth, keep watering and control. Every type of land and planting site will be different, so continue experimenting until you meet the sweet spot.

Save drinks until the morning

Early mornings are the best time to water your plants. There is less sun and wind to evaporate the moisture before your plants are nourished, saving water in total. Watering in the morning also provides the plants with fuel that they need to bloom throughout the day.


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Getting rid of weeds

Daily venting can also save water. Weeds steal moisture from your plants so they need to be watered more often, according to the University of California.

If you hate weeds, consider covering the soil around your plants with water permeable landscapes, such as those made by ECOgardener or GardenMate. These fabrics block the growth of weeds while still allowing the water to reach the roots of your plants.

Let the technology do all the hard work

If you are convinced that your vegetables or flowers need more than one watering per week, invest in a moisture monitor, eg. sPlant Soil Tester or Flower Care 2. These monitors will warn you when the soil around your plants becomes dry, either via an app or a warning system. You can be over-watering without even knowing it.

You can also set up a smart sprinkler system that spreads your sprinklers according to weather changes to prevent over-watering, completely taking out the guesswork. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller Generation 3 and Blossom 8 are both good choices. Systems that here will also take into account the many factors – soil type, soil quality, weather, sun exposure and even landscape type (for example, one side of a hill) – which affects how your garden grows.

They automatically adjust your sprinklers to water when your plants need it. In addition, you can track watercourses using an app on your phone or through smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.

Do you want to make the water easier? Here is the CNET guide to creating your own automated grass irrigation system .

Originally published March 30, 2018.
Update, March 21, 2019 : Published for spring 2019.


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