Watering: For Your Plants’ Well-being and Your Own


Watering the garden. It’s a chore, right?

It certainly can be. A lack of equipment, the wrong equipment, the wrong attitude … any of those things can make tending your plants by meeting their need for water a real chore.


It might surprise you, but the very first tool I recommend isn’t a watering can or a garden hose: it’s a rain gauge. Knowing exactly how much rainfall your garden is already getting will save you from unnecessary watering and could nudge you out the door when your plants are thirsty. I use a simple plastic rain collector like this one that I pop right into my raised bed.

I’ve learned the hard way that a light-weight hose is the way to go. Lugging super heavy hoses around my yard is certainly a chore.

A watering can with a rose attachment like this one is a must for seedlings and other, more delicate, plants. I have also found that the long neck style is particularly well balanced, meaning it’s easy to carry and easy to pour.

Drip hoses or soaker hoses are available at large hardware stores and are fairly simple to set up in raised beds or borders. This is an efficient way to water, as less water is lost to evaporation or runoff, and may feel like a necessity for the gardener working in more arid conditions.

Because I live in a rainy place, my own garden doesn’t need constant watering. I have used drip hoses in the past, but after slicing them with my spade one time too many, I have realized I much prefer using a sprinkler for occasional watering. I can see with my own eyes what my garden is receiving, and sprinklers are easy to move around. I love this one (it rotates and is secured in the lawn or soil with a spike) because I can jab it right into the middle of a border crowded with plants.


Water more deeply but less often. This encourages plants to send their roots down deep.

Water early in the day or late for less evaporation.

As much as possible, water the soil, not the leaves of your plant.

A blast of water from the hose is also the first line of defense against many bugs and pests.


This may sound strange at first, but I have found that if I think of watering as a chore, it will feel like a chore. In other words, if it’s simply something to check off in the garden, something to finish as quickly as possible, then I tend to resent the time I spend doing it and I am always wondering if I’m doing it wrong: perhaps I should invest in some fancy irrigation system?

But if I think of watering as tending, if I acknowledge how pleasant it is to give thirsty plants a drink, then I can appreciate the way that watering re-introduces me to every plant growing in my garden. Watering becomes one of the most important ways I greet my garden.

Time spent appreciating the beauty of our gardens with a hose in our hand can never be wasted time. If it is a chore, it’s one that’s teaching me how to be still, how to be quiet, and how to pay attention.

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Posted on

May 19, 2020

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