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 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.

The best way to water square foot gardens and raised bed gardens #squarefootgarden #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

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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 in the 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. 

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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Be aware of the watering needs of your plants

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. 

Signs of underwatering in plants

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. 

Signs of overwatering in plants
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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

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.

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. 

What does salt burn look like in plants

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.

Water in the morning

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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

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. 

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

Which automatic watering system is best?

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. 

Full disclosure: Garden In Minutes provided me with some of these grids in exchange for my honest review of them, but I like them so much I also purchase them for my garden beds that don’t have them.

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

This system efficiently waters all parts of your raised beds evenly. 

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

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

The Garden Grids are the best way to water square-foot gardens

An additional benefit of the the Garden Grid system is that it divides your garden into evenly-spaced square planting sections for square-foot gardening.

Having a grid is a crucial part of square-foot gardening.

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

These garden grids are definitely the best way to water square-foot gardens and other raised bed gardens.  

The best way to water square foot gardens and raised bed gardens #squarefootgarden #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

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The best way to water square foot gardens and raised bed gardens #squarefootgarden #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation
The best way to water square foot gardens and raised bed gardens #squarefootgarden #gardening #watering #driplineirrigation

27 Comments on Best Way to Water Raised-Bed Gardens

  1. Is it made from 1/2 inch tubing or micro tubing? Hard to tell from pics. Also, how small are the holes? With all the holes spraying at once it would seem like you would lose water pressure. Thanks!

    • It is made from 1/2 tubing. The holes for water are very small. Losing water pressure hasn’t been a problem the way I have them set up in the garden, usually no more than 2-3 grids connected at one time.

  2. Raised bed built land filled but now the soaker hose seems to provide too much water…runs out almost as soon as it’s turned on. Upset wire reinforced with narrow boards… cardboard before soil added. What to do.

    • You could try to reduce the water pressure so the water comes out more slowly and can penetrate the soil rather than running out.

  3. Thanks so much for your post! How long have you had the Garden Grids? Have they had any issues? I have drip irrigation in my raised beds, and I’m thinking about using the garden grids in my new raised beds for improved water coverage. I’m not sure they will be worth the investment though if they don’t hold up to our desert sun. 🙂

    • I got my first grids about 4 years ago and have added them slowly since that time. I haven’t had any issues with them deteriorating.

    • I retro fitted mine around trellises by cutting through the tubing and using connectors. You could try that. When they come in the mail they are not completely assembled, you may be able to put them around the plant before you push the ends together.

  4. How do you handle different watering needs for different plants in the same bed/grid? Or do you only plant varieties with the same needs together? Sometimes companion planting may not be conducive to that though.

    • Good question. I typically water the beds deeply each time I water and the plants all get the same amount of water. There are areas in the beds that get less water (sometimes on the corners) if the grids don’t go all the way to the edge. I plant lower water use herbs (like sage) in those areas. I do have a valve on each bed that controls the amount of water each bed gets so I plant lower water use / or higher use plants together.

      • I’m using grow bags (16 and counting!) on a timed drip system, but it’s challenging to meet the watering different needs of every plant. I just started gardening in February and your website has been a God-send – thank you very much!!!

        One more question: when you a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion, how do you work that into your watering schedule? Do you do it manually and skip a programmed watering so you don’t overwater? Apply it first and then reduce the timed amount?

        • When you fertilize it’s best to water well before, so the plants get extra water when I fertilize.

  5. Angela, Thank for your informative video on how to connect the grid to your own drip system. I am a visual learner and the video helped, At Garden in Minutes site the FAQ”s : “if you want to feed water to your Garden Grid from your sprinkler system or existing irrigation you can too. You will just need to ensure your system has a garden hose adaptor”
    How did you connect from your original main line of your drip system before feeding to each raised bed with the grid? Did you use a garden hose connector? Also when finishing it looks like you leave their white connectors on. I feel like I should understand all, but I am really a novice of setting up drip.

    • I had help from a friend who helps me with sprinkler repairs and installations. You have to connect the PVC to the dripline. If you are trying to connect it to your main watering system (not a hose) you may want to get help from a professional.

  6. I am ready to complete a large raised bed garden. It will use the square-foot system with 10 different crops in it. I doubt that I’ll have enough time for a drip or other system this year, so I was wondering how you feel about watering wands? They are not automatic, but cost less, take less time to set up, and I don’t need to re-configure them each season as we move the crops around (crop rotation).

    • I love watering wands. That’s my preferred way to hand water. It can take a while to do it by hand but they are effective.

  7. Is this a system that’s easy to remove to till the beds soil?
    I currently water by hand, there is an existing system hooked up to two beds but it doesn’t currently work. (new house, stuff was already here.) We added a couple beds but got carried away with tomatoes… So watering by hand takes a good hour or more. Cutting that down would be nice.

    • It’s simple to lift up and out (it’s still connected, but it is up on its side on the side of the bed). I don’t recommend tilling soil however, it’s better for the soil not to till.

  8. Hi Angela,‘I live in Phoenix also and have put in a complete new garden with 8+ raised beds. I love your website and all your incredible information for us desert gardeners. There are so few sights that really apply to our unique climate. So thank you!
    I took your advice and used the garden in minutes garden grids for all of the beds and so far I’m living them. My question is, how long do you typically run them and how often, in the hottest part of the summer and also in the winter? When I first put them in I was doing for way too long, I think, since the water was running right through. Oh, I also used your raised garden Az Worm Farm compost mix to fill them all so it was very loose soil. I’m currently running them twice a day, 7 min in the evening and another 3 min in the morning around 6 am. Is that too much?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Linda. I would try to water no more than once a day. Your watering times may differ depending on your water pressure. When it was less humid and 115 I was running them every day, but now that it’s in the low 100’s with humidity I’m running it every other day in the morning for about 8 minutes on most of the grids. I do have it on a cycle/soak setting so that it’s not 8 minutes all at once. It runs for 4 waits a bit and runs for another 4 minutes so it can absorb better. I also mulch the beds very well to help preserve the moisture.

  9. What is the most effective way to water wooden wine barrels? Unsuccessfully tried 1/4″ drip soaker & emitter tubing this summer, turned into an absolute failure. Have had to hand water all 10 barrels daily to keep plants alive. Looks like a 2′ x 2′ Garden Grid might work nicely. What is your experience with watering your wooden barrels, & recommendations? BTW…love the channel. Am learning so much! JK.

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