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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.

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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:


Jennifer

Friday 7th of October 2022

I am watering my seeds at 6am and 6 pm for 3min with the garden grid to ensue they stay moist. After a week I now have seedlings. Since I have seedlings now should I start lengthening my water for longer so the water goes deeper? Also I intend to plant more seeds every two weeks what do you suggest I do to keep them moist and not overwater the other plants? I have a 4x8 raised bed.

Angela Judd

Thursday 13th of October 2022

Yes as the seedlings get larger you can stretch out the time between watering and water more deeply. If you plant more seedlings I would use a hose to handwater them until they sprout.

Marty

Sunday 28th of August 2022

Hi Angela, just started gardening and have been told not to use municipal water due to the amount of chlorine the city adds. What water source do you use?

Angela Judd

Monday 29th of August 2022

I use city of Mesa water.

Michelle

Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

Mid August 2022 - I’m curious what your settings are for your raised beds this time of year. And what do you change it to in our valley Winters. I’m North PHX w/ new 8’x2’ raised beds. Brand new inspired gardener here. Anyhow, I just installed drip tubing (1/4 .52 GPH). Using my Hydrawise timer, I have it set to 10 minutes every other day 5am. w/ cycle and soak. Is this a good starting point to experiment with. I’m looking for a safe ballpark.

Angela Judd

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

Right now I'm watering every 2-3 days for about 10 minutes total (mine is "cycle and soak" as well) The grids I use water very quickly.

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.