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Best Way to Water Raised-Bed Gardens

Understand and follow correct watering principles, and find the best way to water raised-bed gardens to have a productive and healthy garden.

The best way to water raised-bed gardens provides consistent and even watering, is easy to use and maintain & is simple to install.

The best way to water a raised-bed garden will provide consistent and even watering, be easy to use and maintain, and ideally be simple to install as well.

Raised-bed gardens are a productive and simple way to grow herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables in your backyard. However, how you water the raised beds can mean the difference between a healthy, thriving garden or plants that struggle with under-watering, over-watering, and everything in between.


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7 Tips for Watering Raised-Bed Gardens Successfully


1. Spend time in your garden each day while watering

Whichever method you choose for watering, it’s important to pay attention to the system while it is operating. If you have an automatic watering system, program it to run when you are normally in the garden. 

When you are in your garden while it is being watered, you can spot problems (such as a dead battery or a broken timer, a leak in a line, over-watering, or under-watering) before the health of your plants is affected or water is wasted from flooding, etc. 


2. Pay attention to the weather

Plants require more water when it is dry, windy, or in the summer heat. During the summer in hot areas like Arizona, raised-bed gardens often need watering every day. Other times of the year, the raised beds may only need to be watered 1-2 times per week. Adjust the frequency of the timer for seasonal conditions.

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3. Be aware of the watering needs of your plants

Adequate moisture is essential for healthy crops. “A healthy plant is composed of 75%-90% water, which is used for the plants vital functions, including photosynthesis, support, and transportation of nutrients and sugars to various parts of the plant.” (Arizona Master Gardener Manual p.180)

Monitor plants for signs of under-watering stress (such as brown dry-leaf edges, slow growth, leaf curl, wilted or dropped leaves, or branch dieback) to help determine how often to water. Plants that wilt in the afternoon but recover by morning are suffering heat stress, not water stress. 

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Zucchini leaves that have lost moisture due to transpiration

Allow plants to develop some heat tolerance by not over-watering. Signs of over-watering include soft rotten roots, constantly wet soil, light green or yellow new growth, leaf curl and drop. Inconsistent watering causes problems. 

Transpiration

4. Water less frequently but more deeply

Water deep enough to moisten the plant’s entire root system. Shallow watering that does not water the entire root system discourages healthy root growth.

Do not overwater plants

Use a soil probe (any kind of long metal object such as a long screwdriver) after watering to check watering depth. If the probe moves easily through the soil, it is moist. If not, the soil is dry and you need to water longer. 

Let the top inch or two of soil dry out before you water again. It is a good idea to occasionally water twice as long to flush the salts out of the root zone and soil.

What does salt burn look like in plants


5. Water in the morning

Plants absorb moisture more effectively in the morning. Watering early in the day hydrates plants before the daytime heat. Morning waterings also help prevent waterborne diseases and pests that can occur if you water at night.

What is the best time of day to water plants

6. Water raised-bed gardens evenly and consistently

Some type of automatic watering system is the best way to water raised beds. Timers can be adjusted to water every day during the warmest months of the year, or less often depending on rain and other weather conditions.

Inconsistent watering causes seeds and seedlings to dry out and die, and it stresses established plants which invites pests and diseases. 

Watering can be an expensive part of gardening. Finding the best way to water raised beds will help conserve water and not waste it. 


7. Choose the best type of automatic watering system

Types of automatic watering systems include soaker hoses, sprinklers, and drip lines attached to a timer. I’ve used all three of these methods in my garden, and have found drip-line irrigation is the most effective way to water raised-bed gardens.

  • Soaker hoses often get clogged, crack, and don’t always water evenly.
  • Sprinklers in the garden can encourage and spread disease by getting the leaves wet. Spraying water results in excess evaporation and doesn’t always reach the soil and evenly moisten the root zone.
  • Drip lines water the soil, not the plant. Drip lines also provide water at an even rate, allowing the soil to absorb the moisture with minimal waste or evaporation. 
The best way to water square foot gardens and raised bed gardens #squarefootgarden #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

Which type of drip-line irrigation system is best for watering raised beds?

My favorite drip-line irrigation system is the Garden Grid from Garden In Minutes. I’ve added them one or two at a time to the raised beds in my garden, and the beds that have them benefit from this type of even watering. 

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Here are a few reasons why I think the Garden In Minute’s grid is the best way to water raised-bed gardens

  1. Because individual holes are pre-drilled along the tubing, each part of the bed gets watered. This system efficiently waters all parts of your raised beds evenly

2. It is simple to connect the system to an automatic timer.

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3. The grids come preassembled and can be installed in minutes (really!) with no tools.

The best way to water raised bed gardens #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

4. The Garden Grid system divides your garden into evenly-spaced square planting sections for square-foot gardening. Garden grids are the best way to water square-foot gardens.

The best way to water raised bed gardens #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

5. At the end of each season, it’s easy to lift the grid off the bed to add compost to the raised bed.

The best way to water raised bed gardens #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

6. If you add a flow valve to each bed, it is simple to adjust the flow of water into each individual bed.

The best way to water raised bed gardens #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

In my opinion, the Garden Grids from Garden in Minutes are definitely the best way to water square-foot gardens and other raised-bed gardens.  



If you enjoyed this article about the best way to water raised-bed gardens, please share it:


Pamela

Thursday 6th of June 2024

Hi Angela, I have worm bins in the center of each bed. The beds are 18" deep. At about noon I put an old small water bottle that I have frozen on top in the worm bin. It cools the lower part of the entire bed. The plants love it and the worms love it. In the evening around 6:30 I collect the water bottles and put them back in the freezer. So far so good. The blue lunch box ice blocks can also be used.

Angela Judd

Friday 7th of June 2024

Great tip! Thanks!

April

Saturday 5th of August 2023

I live here in Phx also and am wondering how often you are watering your beds? I'm struggling with how long I should water.

Angela Judd

Monday 7th of August 2023

Right now I'm watering every other day for about 10 minutes. My watering grids water very fast however.

Sherri Muncrief

Thursday 29th of June 2023

I live in tucson, on property with a well. Have you had problems with your garden grids getting clogged with hard water deposits over time?

Angela Judd

Saturday 1st of July 2023

This year I started noticing some of my older ones (4 years old) were getting clogged. I went around with a push pin and re did the holes that were clogged, that seemed to help. That's the first time I've had to do that since owning them. How often you do would depend on your water.

Adam Gardner

Monday 8th of May 2023

How is the best way to connect the gardening grids to your main irrigation/sprinkler system? Right now all I have is a 3/4 in pipe which is already attached to its own dedicated zone to the area of where our gardening beds will be.

Angela Judd

Monday 8th of May 2023

This video explains the process of how we did it: https://youtu.be/GXMsLnxkOEU

Andrea

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

So im using a few IBC recycled totes to make raised beds with and im having a hard time figuring out how to connect 7 or 8 totes with walkways with an irrigation system without losing water pressure. How could I do that with this system?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Running PVC to each individual bed is what I had to do to maintain pressure with several grids: https://youtu.be/GXMsLnxkOEU