Watering Garden Correctly: When, How Much, How Long & How Often

You’ve planted your own garden, or maybe you got yourself some plants for the balcony. Now you’re probably wondering how you should water the plants properly to get the best yield or the most beautiful bloom and that your plants survive as long as possible.

Then you’re in the right place, because I’ll tell you when to water the garden, how much is best to water, how long and how often to water the garden!

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To water your garden properly you should follow these basic rules:

If possible, always water the garden early in the morning before sunrise between 4 and 6 a.m.
Water less often, but if more at once (e.g. water vegetables every other day with 10 liters per square meter, instead of every day with 3 liters per square meter)
Water only until the soil is well soaked but not yet waterlogged

When to water the garden?


It is best to water the garden early in the morning, ideally before sunrise, between 4 and 6 a.m. because in the morning the soil is still nice and cool due to the previous night and is able to store a lot of water.

Early in the morning, the watering water can be better absorbed by the cool, perhaps still slightly damp soil and penetrate to the roots without water evaporating.

In addition, by watering early, the plants can already provide themselves with enough moisture for the coming, partly warm and sunny day and convert it into growth together with the warmth and sun.

Should you water in the morning or in the evening?


You should always water your garden in the morning if possible in the summer, as a lot of water evaporates in the evening on warm days and the damp soil overnight can lead to mold and attract slugs.

If time does not allow you to water the garden in the early morning hours, you can water your garden in the evening in the spring or late summer or fall in a pinch.

This is not ideal due to evaporation and possible slug infestation, but it is a better alternative than watering at noon.

At what time of day should you water the garden?


During the summertime, you should water the garden between 4 and 6 a.m., as long as the sun has not yet risen. This will ensure that as little watering water as possible evaporates and as much as possible is absorbed by the soil and plants.

Although watering so early may not always be possible, make sure the garden is watered no later than 9 a.m. in the summer. Otherwise, the sunlight and heat will be too much, which will cause a lot of the watering water to evaporate directly on the surface of the soil and, in the worst case, burn the plants.

Is it possible to water the garden at noon?


The garden should not be watered over midday during the growing season, i.e. spring and summer, because at this time watering is least effective and the potential damage from burning the plants is highest.

At noon, plants are in the full midday sun and the soil and leaves are the warmest. So if you were to water at this time, a great deal of water would simply evaporate directly or, in the worst case, the leaves or other parts of the plant would burn from the combination of water and sun.

Can you water the garden in the evening?


If it is not possible to water the garden in the morning, you can switch to the evening in case of emergency, although a lot of water will still evaporate in the evening due to the warmed up soil.

In addition, watering in the evening risks rotting and attracting slugs:

Watering in the evening can lead to rot, because some of the watering water cannot dry properly during the night, so if watered incorrectly, the plants may be wet all night long
Wet or moist soil attracts slugs because they can move much better on moist soil than dry soil as well.

When should you water vegetables?


Vegetables, just like the rest of the garden, are best watered early in the morning between 4 and 6 am, while the soil is still nice and cool and receptive.

By watering your vegetables in the morning before the sun comes up, you ensure that all of the irrigation water gets into the soil and to the roots, and doesn’t evaporate like it would at noon or in the evening.

Another benefit of watering vegetables in the morning is that the vegetables will have adequate water throughout the day, as their reservoirs are filled in the morning. Along with sufficient heat, growth can occur during the day.

When is the best time to water flowers?


Vegetables, just like the rest of the garden, are best watered early in the morning between 4 and 6 am, while the soil is still nice and cool and receptive.

By watering your vegetables in the morning before the sun comes up, you ensure that all of the irrigation water gets into the soil and to the roots, and doesn’t evaporate like it would at noon or in the evening.

Another benefit of watering vegetables in the morning is that the vegetables will have adequate water throughout the day, as their reservoirs are filled in the morning. Along with sufficient heat, growth can occur during the day.

How much to water?


Regardless of various factors that determined your garden’s overall water needs (e.g., soil texture, rainfall), you should average about 15-20 gallons of water per square foot per day.

How much you should water depending on the plant and soil type I have summarized in the following table, which you can read, for example, as follows:

If you have a sandy soil in your garden you should water a square meter of vegetable bed with 5-10 liters of water and every second or third day.

If you want to water your flowers properly and you have a clay soil in your garden, you should water 7-10 liters per square meter two to three times a week.

To calculate the total amount of water required, I used a calculation from 2017 by the Institute of Vegetable Crops at Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences.

In addition to different types of vegetables, a distinction was made between sandy and clay soils.

The investigation showed that an average higher supplementary water requirement is necessary for sandy soils. The factor was around 1.2.

That is, for every liter of water needed for clay or loam soils, 1.2 times as much is needed for a sandy soil.

The water quantities or frequencies are, of course, only average values. That is, depending on the weather conditions or different types of vegetables or flowers, the water requirements may also vary somewhat from the average values.

In addition to these averages, you should also use empirical values or the naked eye (dry soil, limp leaves, etc.) to determine whether your garden needs watering.

How much water do vegetables need?


If the vegetables are planted on a light sandy soil, they should be watered with 5-10 liters per square meter every second or third day, since light soils can store water less well.

However, if there is a heavy clay or loam soil, vegetables should be watered with only 4-8 liters per square meter every other day, as heavy or denser soils can store water well but not so much at a time.

How much water does lawn need?


Lawns growing on light sandy soil need to be watered only once a week with 15-20 liters of water per square meter, while lawns on heavy clay or loamy soil should be watered 2-3 times a week with 10-15 liters of water per square meter.

Lawns on lighter soils, such as a sandy soil, should be watered with more water but less often. While lawns on heavy soils should be watered with less water but more often.

Overall, regardless of soil texture, you end up with similar amounts of water that are just distributed differently in time, depending on the soil.

Note, so as not to allow false conclusions!

Turf should normally be watered only after seeding and during the germination and initial growth stages. After that, mature turf usually doesn’t need to be watered at all, but handles precipitation very well.

If you still want to water lawns in a very hot summer, don’t use tap water for this, which is scarce in some places in very dry years anyway, but if anything, use rainwater to water your lawn.

How much water do flowers need?


Flowers need an average of 10-15 liters of water per square meter 2 times a week regardless of soil conditions.

More specifically, flowers growing in a sandy soil should be watered 1 time per week with 15-20 liters of water and flowers growing in a heavy clay or loam soil should be watered 2-3 times per week with 7-10 liters per square meter.

How much water do fruit trees need?
You can also water fruit trees in a hot summer, depending on the weather. On average, fruit trees on sandy soils need 50 liters of water once a week, while fruit trees growing on heavy soils should be watered 2 times a week with 30 liters of water.

Note, so as not to allow false conclusions!

Fruit trees should normally be watered only after planting and in the first stage of growth, that the roots can form and the tree grows.

After that, fruit trees in home gardens and for private use usually don’t need to be watered at all, but handle precipitation very well.

If you still want to water your fruit trees in a very hot summer, then you should not use tap water for this, which in very dry years is scarce in some places anyway, but if at all, then use rainwater for watering your fruit trees.

How long to water?


You should water your plants until the soil is well soaked and no waterlogging or puddles have formed yet. As soon as small puddles form that do not immediately disappear, the soil is initially saturated with water and cannot absorb any more.

If you stick to the average amount of water needed by different plants, such as 5-10 liters of water for vegetables on sandy soil, you should feel after watering the entire amount that the soil is saturated and cannot absorb any more water.

However, when watering, make sure you water evenly and don’t dump the entire amount on the beds at once. Watering evenly allows the water to soak into the soil better and makes it easier for you to estimate how long you need to water the garden.

How often should you water the garden?


When watering, the key to success is “water less often, but when you do, water more!”

Very specifically, this means that it’s better to water just a little bit more every other day or every third day, rather than just a little bit every day.

Evaporation, in particular, plays a big role in how often you should water. If you watered your beds every day, water could evaporate every day and not seep into the soil as much.

But if you water your beds only every second or third day, but then with double or triple the amount of water, all of a sudden more water per square foot gets into the soil and less water evaporates overall.

Another very important reason why you should water less often is to develop the root system of your plants. The goal should always be for your plants to develop roots as deep as possible so they can take as many nutrients and water as possible from deeper soil layers.

If you water frequently but only a little, then only the top soil layers will be soaked and the roots can hardly grow deeper. But if you water less often but much more, then deeper soil layers will also be soaked and the roots of the plants can develop further.

How often to water in summer?


Especially in summer, the rule of thumb is to water less often, but more at once, so that as little water as possible evaporates. More specifically, if possible, you should water lawns, flower beds and fruit trees only once a week in the summer, while vegetables should be watered 2 or 3 times a week.

But beware, if it is a very hot summer with dry days, you may need to water your garden twice or three times as often in some cases, i.e. vegetables every day and lawn, flowers and fruit trees 2-3 times a week.

If you water less often in the summer, always make sure you give enough water to your plants so that the water gets deep to the roots and soaks the entire soil, not just wetting the surface.

How often do you have to water a raised bed?


As a rule, a raised bed should be watered twice as often as a normal bed, because the temperatures in the raised bed are on average 6 degrees higher than in the normal bed and also a direct, lateral sunlight leads to more evaporation.

This means that vegetables in raised beds should be watered every day or every other day at normal temperatures in summer, and at hot temperatures in summer the raised bed should be watered up to like times a day.

When watering the raised bed properly, you should always include your feeling and experience and not just water it blindly.

Make sure that there is no waterlogging and no puddles and that the water always seeps properly into the soil.