Watering Cottage Gardens - Do You, How Do You, How Much

cindysunshine(5b)July 6, 2010

I have really expansive wide borders around the house and then we have several island beds plus the vegie garden.

I don't water very often - in fact when I was working out of town, the borders didn't get watered AT ALL. Ever. Most of the strong plants survived - there isn't a whole lot that I lost and what I did I think was more to weeds and overgrowth from other plants than drought.

My gardens are really dry - we sit on top a hill and most things are in full sun, with a bit of partial shade around the back.

I would love to have a sprinkler system - we even talked about running it up from the pond, but we don't have infinite water in there either and it doesn't refill that well.

For now when it feels realy important I haul my sprinkler around the borders and try to not do it very often - deep and infrequent.

We did run a long hose and spigot out by the vegetable garden and I have soaker hoses there on the tomatoes and peppers - we just turn them on and let them soak for several hours so easy.

I am debating on ordering some new sprinklers or investigating a real system around the house - we don't do the grass or the orchard or the trees or anything other than the year of planting to get them established.

It's just so much easier and more effective if it rains.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I usually fill two 2gl. watering cans and carry them to where they are needed. Time consuming and hard work in the heat. Sometimes I get the hoses out, but I find that just as frustrating! Ugh. Hoses get tangled, are heavy to drag, usually leak somewhere and are a pain to drag back in and roll up on the reel. Most times if I have the hoses out, they stay out for as long as I can stand to see them.

As to when to water, my Mom and I disagree about this. I say early in the morning, she says in the evening. Will the plants "boil" in the heat later in the day or get mildew overnight? All I do know is that sprinkling doesn't do any good at all - the plants need a good soak. That's alot of trips with the watering cans.

Soaker hoses sound like the best idea to me but I'm not sure how those would be installed in established beds. You do have to bury the hoses don't you? I suppose there wouldn't be that much digging up of plant roots.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well...I have a smallish garden, to be honest, but it too, is on a hill and can be pretty much impossible to water by hand once everything fills in. I've been installing one of those do-it-yourself drip irrigation systems that you can get at Home Depot (and most hardware stores). It's not terribly expensive...and you do the work yourself, so you can make sure the water goes exactly where you want it, so there is practically no waste. I'm sure if I added up the $$$ I've spent so far (and how much is left to do) it wouldn't be really cheap...then again, all I have to do to water is turn on the hose and let it run for an hour...and if you add up the water savings alone, it 's a good investment...and again, no wasted water and no water getting on leaves promoting fungal diseases. Also, a good, thick layer of mulch to conserve moisture and keep weeds down goes toward lessening the need to water frequently. I think even in the heat of summer I can get away with watering once a week...unless something is newly planted.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
natal(Louisiana 8b)

Hose and sprinklers. I generally water each section for 30-40 minutes, then move to the next. We have two Ames cast aluminum wall-mounted hose reels. They make quick work of rolling the hose back up. I think dh paid half the Amazon price at Home Depot a couple years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ames True-Temper hose reel

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lisa33(6b Bucks County PA)

My space is pretty small, so I do water fairly regularly. I seem to always have something new that is getting established or something that I direct sowed that requires regular water for a while. I also regularly rinse the birdbaths and of course there are the containers.... All of that adds up to having the hoses out most of the time. Like schoolhouse--they are usually out until I can't stand looking at them anymore.

I have been looking at drip irrigation, too. A neighbor who has a system swears by dripworks.com. I've been watching their videos in an attempt to gain confidence in what components would best suit my needs. I do have one stretch of drip irrigation for the new hollies I have planted and have included one for a new Weigela 'Wine and Roses.' It's nice, but right now it is set up so I need to turn hoses off, attach to the drip system and then undo it all when I'm done. I want something with less manual intervention.

The other day I did snake a soaker hose through one bed that I can't reach well with my regular hose. It isn't buried, but it gives me the ability to get water to a hard-to-water area. I wasn't thrilled with the uniformity of coverage, though. Seemed like the stuff closer to the beginning of the hose got drenched while the stuff toward the end of the hose got little.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have soaker hoses in 3 of my 4 flower beds (but unfortunately one got cut last year while installing a new sidewalk and I have yet to repair it). I put them in before I mulched and over time they did become "unburied" in a few areas but for the most part they work great. The few plants I could not get them close enough to I will water with the hose or watering can but I just feel like they are the most efficient way to water. When I use them I typically leave them run for an hour or so at night. If I use the hose I try to remember to water 1st thing in the morning especially on plants I know are prone to fungal diseases.

The bed without the soaker hose I've been watering every few days in this heat/humiity wave we're in this summer (no rain since June 16th at my house) and again I try to water at night and it takes about an hour or so to get all the plants. I focus in the newly planted one or plants that just haven't taken off yet.

In my opinion I think soaker hoses are the best way to water if you have tightly packed beds (won't waste water on bare spaces) and would put them down just before you mulch. In times like this I'd just lay them out and use them on top of the ground instead of watering by hand.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I tried soaker hoses but the brand available to me never did work well, for whatever reason. It was so frustrating that I removed them. Now I carry water from barrels until I can get the pump in the cisterns. Then maybe consider some other kind of irrigation system using the cistern water.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 1:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Never. Actually that's not true. I water when I put a new plant or seeds in. Other than that, it doesn't get watered.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We live in a dry area with only 20" average precipitation per year so I love when it rains! Recently we were away for 6 days and my garden only got a sprinkle of rain but it was cloudy on several days. The only plant that was wilting was an azalea that I planted this spring. I think I'll move it to an even shadier spot as we often go away and my garden must cope (even azaleas).

I don't believe in watering excessively because I want my plants to have deep roots. We also have clay soil which helps. Part of my garden is on a slight slope so it drains well. My new shade garden is wonderful as it stays damp so much longer. Unfortunately the rest is mostly in full sun and the new plants and transplants need frequent watering.

Right now, and probably all summer, I have hoses going all over. DH arranged them so I don't have to drag any one too far and even buried one of the 'feeder' hoses underground so it looks neater. We are redoing many beds and making new ones so there's constant watering this year. I also use watering cans especially when I water with diluted alfalfa tea, which I do regularly. I'm doing more spot watering this year and just fill the sprinkling cans from the hose and drench each new plant individually. Saves on water and keeps the rest of the new bed dry so I can continue to plant in it. Most of my beds are wide but either accessible from both sides or I use stepping stones. I do have quite a few pots on the patio this year which need watering daily or every 2 days.

I tried soaker hoses and they didn't seem to last long and were expensive. A good underground system is the ultimate - I had that once and it was great. I set it to come on in early morning. It's crucial to plan it so there are zones and one must be careful of each plants' moisture requirements and not just later plunk the wrong plant in the wrong zone.

I try never to water late in the afternoon or evening altho when I was working I did. Now if I think a new plant needs water in the evening I'll pour it at the base and not get the leaves wet. I guess it depends on the humidity whether there will be problems or not. It's so dry here I've never had mildew on anything.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Luckygal- I think we have the same type of summers :)

I have to water at least every third day...and once it gets hot, every other day. We normally have very low humidity and not much rain in July through September. I usually water in the evening, with a hose (no attachment) and walk around talking to my plants and giving them a good soak at the base. (Yes, I do talk to them and tell them how pretty they look LOL)

The kitchen garden and little garden under the trees I do with the sprinkler. The tree garden, I water in the afternoon, while it's shady. The kitchen garden, usually in the late afternoon/evening. So far, no mildew, but I think it's just too dry here. The only plant I have had a problem with is one Zephirine Drouhin and I planted it much too close to the wall. Since I moved it out a foot, it's much better and the mildew is gone :)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have soaker hoses in most of the cottage garden, but only one line out to the bottom of the rain garden--nothing at the top with the more xeric plantings.

I've not turned on the soaker hoses this year as they would be watering established trees and shrubs and not the new plantings. So, I drag hoses or haul water in the evening or the morning -- depending upon my energy. I'm to the point where I think evening is better with this heat as my garden gets sun from 6:30 am and I can't get it watered before it heats up out there.

100 degrees right now. It was 103 out on the highway when we returned from errands.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lots of good discussion.

Well, I'm headed out here in a bit with my watering cans. I'm sure I'll be drenched in sweat by the time I'm done, but I couldn't get around in time to do it this morning. If I get a burst of energy, I'll give in and drag the hoses out.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been moving the sprinkler all day - I did the east side this afternoon when it had some shade - all day the hoses have been running. I'm doing behind the deck now and there is really no reasonable alternative other than turning on the rain shower on the hose nozzle and moving it along about 5 ft at a time.

I really hate watering. Watering and mulching are my two most unfavorite garden tasks.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
neverenoughflowers(6 SEPA Downingtown)

My vegetable garden is at the top of our property, but the flower gardens are close to the house. Yesterday we hauled the hose and watering cans up to the veg garden and spent 2 hours deep watering individual plants. We only water 1x a week in the early morning so that the roots absorb the water and it doesn't evaporate. I found that watering in the evening promotes disease.

The only flowers I have watered are those that were planted this year and my containers.

We are on a well and I don't want to run the risk of running out of water. Today it was 101 here and scheduled to be the same tomorrow. I have to admit, my vegetable garden actually looks pretty good. We just hope to get some rainfall later this week.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 8:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting discussion esp. this time of year! It's so hot! DH and I spent most of 3 day w/e watering. We water with sprinklers and watering cans for the pots. We use rain barrels (we have 2, made very cheaply) which hold 60 gals each. We use that for the pots. The front yard/gardens are watered with the yard meter, we pay for water only. The back yard, which is much more extensive, we water from the house and pay for sewer also. It is a big job to run hoses from the front all thru the back yard, and constantly going to front to adjust hose setting. The connection is in the ground and it is hard to bend down and connect it etc. and that's why we use the back hose. But I hate to see the bill! Watering is not fun! We try not to water, and some established shrubs and trees can do without, until it rains, but new plants or veggie garden need watering. We waited as long as we could until things looked wilty and even the grass, which I rarely water, needed it. It had been about 2 wks since rain. Well, today we got a little sprinkling. I tend to like to use sprinklers, altho they are probably somewhat wasteful but I can just see the plants getting cooled off and feeling refreshed on their leaves. It's like rain, so I do it. I don't see more fungus or mildew, in my opinion. Rain comes day, nite, anytime, so why worry too much about watering, unless dealing with a prized rose bush or something. Even when I lived south of New Orleans I didn't see more fungal problems. Anyway for what it's worth!
Not only is the rain welcome for watering, filling my rain barrels, but just to cool things off and give some cloud cover.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 8:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

In case you couldn't tell- the hose is my nemesis. I hate the hose. The hose hates me, too. You can read all about it on my page.

Here in SoCal most people water their lawns every day. I water twice a week and it takes me all day long.

I have battery-powered sprinklers, hand operated sprinkler valves, automatic electric sprinklers, hose-end sprinklers, drip systems, soaker hoses, and I spit a lot.

My garden is still barely getting enough water to survive.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

I'm a newbie and I'm really still getting the hang of watering my plants.

in fact, I've killed and almost killed several plants due to too much water or not enough water... and I'm not quite sure what in some cases.

at first I was watering for a few (like 8 minutes) each day,... but then my local nursery clued me in that that was wrong, especially when my large camellia started wilting and all it's leaves started falling off.
so now thanks to their recommendation, I still water the lawn everyday, but I don't water the rest of the plants/yard except about once a week, and then for 30 min to an hour depending on the planting area.
Most of my plants are roses, camellias, lavender... and the rest are mostly drought tolerant or native plants.
Only the plants that I've just now planted need to be watered more frequently than the once a week long-water, it seems like. and I do check my rose pot ghetto almost daily to make sure they aren't drying out.

We have a sprinkler and drip irrigation system.

we have heavy clay soil and it's very dry/hot here. Though lately, it's been unseasonably reasonable (ie it's cloudy today and only about 68 degrees or so...)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 9:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Carol - I did my rain dance for Eastern, Pa yesterday - I washed my car :) That pretty much guarantees rain every time!

DH finally fixed my broken soaker hose tonight, my flowers will be so happy after their 2 our soak tonight :)


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 9:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I watered the garden for the first time yesterday, the weather we've had so far has been really easy on our water bill. Usually I have the hoses going in early may.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 10:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
neverenoughflowers(6 SEPA Downingtown)

Andrea, I had to laugh when I read your post, I just told my husband that its time to get the car washed, that usually guarantees rain. We must have been thinking the same way. By the way, my daughter's name is also Andrea.

Stay cool. Carol

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

So today I went out and watered :) WITH THE HOSE! That's the 2nd time this year! Normally I only use the barrels.
Later this evening I will finish the job. I have to work today and teach tonight - and we are limited on our watering hours for gardens. They are still discouraging watering of grass, but we can water every 2nd day (except Sunday) according to our house numbers even/odd from 10pm-10am. Watering of food is unlimited. Watering with alternative water sources is unlimited.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My soil is very, very sandy, so I have to water everyday when it's in the 90's and no rain within the last few days. If I don't, everything wilts, including the phlox, daisies, I've even had portulaca wilt.

I just use a hose with one of those 'shower" attachments. Works well for me. I occassionally use the sprinkler, but I don't know, I like to water with the hose and see all my plants!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Right now, I need a sump pump...and I live on a hill. More rain in the forecast, too. The weather pattern has changed here - normally an El Nino year means severe drought in Oklahoma. Not this season anyway.

With our normally semi-dry to dry summers, I use the garden hose to water EVERY day in most areas and every other day in other areas that prefer dryer conditions. We have our own well, so I can also use the sprinkler without ill affects on my plants. It is just like rain water. The birds, butterflies, bees and amphibians love it too. When I hand water, the birds follow me from tree to tree, so I spray up into the trees and they chirp and sing for me. The occasional tortoise will come out of hiding for a long, cool drink, too. I set the mister on the tropicals and water-loving ferns etc. to keep them happy.
This takes all day.

I use soaker hoses under my veggies when it is very hot and very dry to prevent scorching and so the water will get down deep where the nutrients are and encourage deep roots.

For under my Phlox and roses, &etc., I screw on a fan sprayer and let it run slowly, gently and deeply under them to prevent leaf-scorch, and do this as often as needed.

I even water in the winter if it is a dry winter. Soil heave (freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw) is terrible here in Okie, and in dry winters this will kill plants and even small trees and shrubs.

And of course, potted plants need a drink just about every day in the summer.

That is how I have to do it here to keep mine alive year round.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Annie- I love your description of watering with the birds and tortoise...it sounds like something from a Disney movie :)

I've had a few robins following me around lately, when I move the sprinkler around the kitchen garden and they love to sit on top of the metal arches I put in the fairy garden. Once the clematis gets to the top, I think they'll like it even more. It's a great place to see everything without the barn kitties seeing them!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a normal course of action, the only things that get watered at my house are my veggie garden and containers. This is the first year I'm doing annuals and use a watering can to get at them. But my yard is very shady and so the dew doesn't even evaporate off the lawn until about 2pm...as a normal course of action. No watering required....usually

This week - with temperatures feeling like 42C (~108F, in the shade) I've put the hose on twice....both times, I've watered for about 30 minutes per area at about 7pm (I figure that it can't be damper with the hose than it usually is without and with the extra heat....no issues)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
christinmk z5b eastern WA

Funny, I was just talking to someone about this topic. So interesting to find out how often other people water their garden.

I live somewhat near LL, so our summers are pretty much the same. This year has been unusually rainy, so I haven't had to do that much watering (except for the very dry areas/areas that are under trees).
In "normal" years I have to water daily in the hot and dry months. If you don't things just wilt and die. Doesn't help that the soil is so well draining. Naturally most of my flowers and plants are not the drought tolerant sorts either, LOL.

Often I water in late morning to afternoon. Never had any trouble with boiling plants ;-) Think they are probably used to rainy days followed by hot ones! I hand water. It is a pain to lug the hoses around, but things mildew easily here, so I don't like using the sprinkler. Can't complain too much. The garden takes care of itself for the most part (and gets a good deal of neglect during times I don't feel like weeding, deadheading, etc). Least I can do is water it!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We don't water grass (2+ acres of it), just the new plants. The "old" plants have to make it on their own.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

In coastal CA there is no rain in the summer at all. Zip, nada. In the 40 yrs I've lived here there have been three serious droughts - and we don't call a drought 'serious' until the third successive year.

Although lawns are nice to look at, here they are wasteful of water and fertilizer (fertilizer-laden wastewater from the Delta has been shown to be destructive to the marshlands in SF Bay). I'm glad to see more and more homeowners converting to less-thirsty designs. In some counties it is mandatory for new construction to have drought-resistant landscaping. Some friends of ours have a 7-acre property with a single, very small rectangle of lawn about 9x12'. Lots of plantings with color and greenery, but nothing thirsty.

We planned our landscaping to be water-thrifty. The soil was improved with compost, I mulch every year, and use soaker hoses. Other local gardeners are amazed at how little water we use for what is a large urban garden. My beds are all crammed with shrubs and flowers; they are evergreen and flowering year round. Some beds need no water at all, living on runoff from other beds. Our temps are moderate, I usually water once every 2-4 weeks. All watering is done on timers.

I collect excess kitchen water in buckets (rinsing salad greens, etc.) and water my few containers with it. I am trying to eliminate most container plantings; they use up too much water compared to plants in the ground.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 7:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's easy for me to forget that usage of water in a lot of areas isn't as simple as it is for me. since Lake Erie is just down the street it seems like my water is endless. But then I think about people like you in CA, and I think, how on Earth can they have a good garden? It just goes to show you how used to our own situations we get.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I congratulate Jkom's routine. That is the most conscious of water conservation.

In my neck of the woods,Ontario Canada, despite our proximity to the lake and the large number of aquafiers in the area, we still practice water conservation. So I get to water my yard every other day and only for a few hours.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:12AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Wanting to sow my wild flower seeds, have questions
Recently a gas line was installed in front of our house...
Lilyfinch z7 mid tn
Weekend Trivia: Sunday
Good morning cottagers! Do you remember how I was bemoaning...
cyn427 (zone 7)
Received my seeds today
So psyched !!! Can't wait for spring !!!!
echinacea pink double delight
6 plants propagated from a single stem late last nov....
Building my Irish Shed
Hi everyone, I've been admiring all the lovely garden...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™