Knowing the best time to water a garden is critical to getting the best results. It's easy once you understand a few easy gardening concepts.The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.There’s so much to learn when you’re tending a vegetable garden — how to start seeds, how to care for your plants, how to prevent diseases…the list goes on.
But would you believe me if I told you that one of the most common mistakes that new gardeners make is one of the simplest to fix?
This article will give you an overview of when to water a garden, but more importantly will explain the why. Once you understand the why, you’ll never forget when to water again.
The Absolute Best Time To Water: As Early as Possible in the Morning
If you’re a morning person — unlike me — you’ll be happy to learn that the early morning is hands down the best time to water plants (or any garden, for that matter).
The reason is simple: when you water in the morning, the sun is barely up and temperatures are still cool. Water has time to actually penetrate the soil and get down into the root systems of your garden without being lost to evaporation.
Watering early also protects your plants from intense heat in the middle of the day (the worst time to water plants), as they will be full of water by the time the heat of the day actually hits them. This is much better than trying to “save” your plants on a hot day by pouring water on them in the afternoon.
The Second Best Time to Water Your Garden: The Late Afternoon / Early Evening
If, like me, you’re not much of a morning person, then water your plants in the late afternoon or early evening. The principle here is clear: you’re trying to do whatever you can to avoid watering in the middle of the day.
Do Not Water at Night
If you can avoid it, don’t water plants at night time, and avoid evening watering. The biggest reason why is what I mentioned above — you are dampening leaves and plant matter at night, when little to no evaporation will occur. You’re not giving the soil time to dry. This is a great recipe for diseases and rot, and not a good recipe for a healthy garden.
Tips for Watering Your Garden
Now that you know the best time to water a garden, let’s cover a few other mistakes that gardeners make when watering:
Avoid over-watering your garden at all costs.
Over-watering is one of the biggest mistakes that gardeners make. It’s incredibly easy to do and the results of too much excess water can be disastrous. Watering too often can kill vegetable plants and container plants just as easily as watering too little.
As a rule of thumb, giving your garden and container plants about an inch of water per week is a good idea. But this is just like any rule — it’s made to be broken. Some plants need a ton of water, while others barely need any at all. You should research the plants in your garden and get a good understanding of how much they need.
Try to water near the surface of the soil, not over your leaves.
When you water your garden, you’re trying to get it to the root system. Avoid haphazardly pouring it all over the top of the leaves. This is just wasted water that will evaporate off of your plants. You can irrigate at the best time to water, but lose precious H2O by doing this.
When you water, water deeply.
Instead of a light morning watering a few times a week, consider watering deeply once per week. This means staying on a spot until you’re sure that water has penetrated deep into the soil. The deeper the water goes, the less likely it is to evaporate out of the soil, and the more encouragement it gives your plants’ roots to spread deeper, developing a healthy root system.
Ways to Water Your Garden
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the best time to water plants, let’s discuss a few ways you can water your garden.
Soaker Hose and Drip Irrigation
Seasoned gardeners often spring for using soaker hoses in their vegetable gardens due to their ability to consistently water deeply. Ditch the garden hose! All you have to do with soaker hoses is place them around the base of your plants and turn them on when you want to water.
There are tons of passive irrigation methods out there that are sure to help you water your garden, and stay within municipal water regulations. We don’t have time to cover them all here, but let’s discuss a few!