There are many ways to apply water to a garden, and each method has benefits and drawbacks, depending on the region, climate, specific site, soil, and types of plants.
The simplest equipment for watering, a watering can and garden hose with nozzle or bubbler are suitable for small gardens. Buy the best hose available to avoid the aggravation of hoses that refuse to unkink, break at their connectors, or simply don’t last.
Nozzles, bubblers, and hose-end devices called breakers should deliver water gently, not in a hard stream that can injure tender plants and erode soil. A reel or hanger will make it easier to store a garden hose. Other fittings, gadgets, and attachments that make garden hoses more handy include quick-connect devices, double hose shutoffs, gooseneck couplings, hose guides, and hose repair kits.
Designed like a probe, deep-root irrigators attach to a garden hose and efficiently deliver water down to a tree’s or large plant’s root zone. They can also help aerate compacted or heavy soils and even deliver fertilizer.
Soaker hoses can be an efficient solution to watering. Two kinds are in common use. Perforated soakers emit water from a series of holes that can be directed downward for soaking and upward for a fine spray. Another type, made of recycled rubber, oozes water along its entire length. Both kinds of soaker hoses can be snaked aboveground throughout the garden or buried under the soil surface to provide a more permanent type of watering system.
These come in many forms, some handier than others. Most common for home use are the oscillating and revolving sprinklers. Because of their limited range, they are less convenient than a permanent sprinkler system but also much less expensive. Impulse sprinklers, the kind most often used on golf courses and in plant nurseries, are good at delivering water exactly where it’s needed, once one has mastered the technique of adjusting the controls.
Underground sprinkler systems are convenient for big gardens with large expanses of lawn, or for regions with dry summers. With proper installation, even coverage is achieved with a minimum of guesswork. The system can be set to operate automatically at certain times of day for precise periods of time.
The flexible drip irrigation system, an aboveground water conservation method, includes lengths of small hoses with numerous small emitters to water each plant or distribute water over a larger area with mini-sprayers or mini-sprinklers. Because it can get complicated, it’s advisable to start with a small setup and build on to it.