How to Water your Garden

Although the British summer never seems to disappoint where rain is concerned, we do have dry periods when watering plants is essential. Here's our guide to the correct way to water your garden.

Created by David Coton on Wednesday, 30th of July, 2014.
Updated on Tuesday, 17th of February, 2015.


Regular watering is essential for good plant growth and will also minimize the risk of disease. However, there are certain methods that should be followed so that your plants fully benefit and the water is used efficiently.

Watering equipment

Watering cans are the most traditional and simplest way to water but, depending on their size, they may be heavy to handle. Haws Watering Cans are perhaps the best known make and there are plastic and metal ones from 2.25 ltr to 8.8ltr (1/2 gal - 2 gals) capacity.

Hozelock offer a wide range of watering solutions in their automatic watering system that includes trickle hoses and sprinklers that can be operated manually or controlled by a timer. Trickle hoses deliver small amounts of water continuously to plants and are particularly useful if you go on holiday. Easy to install, they are extendable to borders, containers and hanging baskets.

How and when to water

Water in the evening or early morning when the soil can absorb the moisture before it is evaporated

Rather than watering often and little it's best to soak plants regularly, ensuring the water gets to the plant's roots. 

When using a watering can, water gently so that the earth doesn't form a hard crust around the plant. Make sure the water goes to the roots by aiming your can at the base of the plant, you could fashion a reservoir around the plant, so that water is collected and slowly sinks into the soil.

Another method that delivers water to the roots is to cut a plastic bottle in half and position it upturned next to the plant, then fill with water which will slowly drain into the earth.

Baskets and containers, especially terracotta, need to be watered daily in hot weather. If the compost has shrunk away from the sides, sit the basket or container in a bucket of water for a while.

Although sprinklers can water a large area effortlessly, you will need to leave them on for at least an hour and watch out for leaf scorching on hot sunny day.

Make the most of your water

A water butt filled from a drainpipe is one of the most efficient ways of re-cycling water. Plants love rainwater and it will be at the ambient temperature, much better than cold tap water.

Although less easy to collect, 'Grey' water, for example from a bath, is perfectly good to use.

Water storing crystals and water retentive gel are useful in hanging baskets and containers, and when digging a hole for new plants add lots of organic matter that not only provides goodness but also acts as a sponge.

Keep borders free from weeds that compete for any available moisture. Weed control fabric is an excellent idea or alternatively at least 3ins of mulch made up of compost, cocoa shells or bark to keep moisture in the soil and lessen evaporation. 

It makes sense to use water wisely. Take a look at your garden now to see whether you should be watering in a different way or using the various products that are now on the market to maximize this precious resource's effectiveness.

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