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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. 


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. 
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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 there are individual holes 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.

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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.

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

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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:

Catherine E Ferreragrand

Tuesday 14th of June 2022

So far the best and most helpful site I have seen and been to! thank you!!!

Angela Judd

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Wow, thank you so much.

Kathleen Nickolich

Thursday 21st of April 2022

How do you protect zinnia leaves from rain if you shouldn’t get their leaves wet?

Angela Judd

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Of course, you can't, but rainwater has less salt content than what we water our gardens with. If you get frequent rain, disease may be an issue for zinnias.


Saturday 2nd of April 2022

How do these do with minerals? Our water is a little harder than Colorado river water as it is well water. I use drip line with inline 1/2gph emitters and I pretty much replace them once a year because they get clogged up. I’ve had my eye on these for awhile but because of the price and unknown effect of the minerals (calcium?) I haven’t tried them. I’ve tried the calcium filters and they help a bit but not a great difference. It’s discouraging. Thank you!

Angela Judd

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Hi Jennifer, I haven't had an issue so I reached out to Bryan at Garden in Minutes to answer your question. Here is his response: "Great question. Emitters are faster to clog with minerals and can’t really be cleared, it’s one of the main reasons we don’t use them. The holes for the water streams are closer to the size of a lawn sprinkler. While minerals can still build up, maintenance for the Garden Grid by minerals is very easy. You can rub up finger over any Garden Grid hole that has mineral build up to clean it off (similar to what you can do with a shower shower head), for faster maintenance you can run a brush over the tubing, and for very stubborn areas, inserting a safety pin will certainly clear the minerals. We have a quick video on Garden Grid care and maintenance here:

Dennis Thompson

Friday 18th of March 2022

Just following up on my earlier question about the Garden Grids. I reached out to Garden in Minutes and they let me know that the Garden Grids can be ordered "cornerless" to fit into rounded planting beds. Problem solved. Can't wait get get started.

Angela Judd

Friday 18th of March 2022

Wonderful! Thank you for the update.

Dennis Thompson

Friday 18th of March 2022

Hi Angela, I noticed in one of your videos, the Garden grid watering system on a metal raised bed with rounded corners. The corners of the Garden grid were raised due to the rounded corners. Does this cause problems with the watering at the corners? I'm asking because I just purchased 3 Vego Raised Beds and I was planning to use the 4'x8' configuration. I was also planning to buy 3 Garden Grids in the 4'x8' size. Will this be OK or should buy the smaller Garden Grid size. We are new to raised bed gardening, so your advise is very much appreciated. Dennis T.

Angela Judd

Friday 18th of March 2022

Hi Dennis, I went out and took another look to be sure and I've liked the grid in that metal bed. The corners do overlap a bit, but it hasn't been a huge issue. You could also reach out to the customer service at Garden in Minutes and tell them the type of bed you have and see what they recommend. They are very helpful. Hope that helps! Angela