Skip to main content
Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

How much water does your garden need?

Originally published by Kelly Allsup on July 3, 2020.

Last week's high temperatures and our limited amount of rain is making gardeners' number one job watering.

Even though we have gotten some much-needed rain for the flowers and the trees, consistent watering throughout the season is very important. "Drought stress" occurs with limited water and very high temperatures. Plants are unable to make food and cool themselves. Drought stress symptoms are reproductive failure, slow and reduced growth, change in leaf color, browning of leaves, leaf drop and susceptibility to insects and diseases.

If plants get crispy, cut back half of the plant to reduce stress.

Vegetable gardens need attention daily. They grow fast and we are dependent on the flower and fruits. I sometimes check the soil after I have watered to see if the water percolated to the roots. I refrain from getting water on the leaves to prevent spread of disease and water in the morning when less water is lost to evaporation.

It is best to water heavier less often than to water shallowly every day. If you have watered a plant for less than 30 seconds, you are probably guilty of this. Deep watering encourages root growth. Plants need a thorough soaking if you want lush and vibrant growth.

Young trees and perennials usually need additional water in the first three years. In the first season, water two to three times a week, one gallon per inch of caliper. The caliper of a tree is the diameter at 6 inches above ground. If the diameter is greater than four inches, measure caliper at 12 inches above ground. For the remaining two seasons, water once per week. For mature trees, water during times of drought and high temperatures.

Water gardens one inch a week and increase to two inches per week when temperatures are above 90 degrees. What is one inch of water? One inch of water per square foot is about a half-gallon of water.

Depending on water pressure, a typical 50-foot garden hose releases about 25 gallons per minute at full stream. A 100-foot hose will releases about half that. If you wish to improve your watering precision, use a garden hose flow rate calculator.

To water a 200-square-foot garden one inch with a 100-foot hose, you will need 100 gallons. Water that area for 4-5 minutes.