Raised garden beds are a simple way to grow flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc. But the health of the plants will depend on how you water them. If you are new to raised garden beds, it is important to know the watering essentials.
Generally, the raised bed needs to be watered every day or every other day in summer and 1-2 times a week in the winter. The frequency will vary due to the amount of rain, vegetable type, and temperature. You can water raised beds using garden hoses, watering cans, sprinklers, or drip lines.
This article will discuss different factors and ways to water a raised garden bed. Let’s go further into the details.
Different ways to water raised garden bed
There are different ways to water your raised garden bed.
- Manual watering
- Garden hoses
- Drip lines
Let’s discuss each of them.
1. Manual watering
It is the simplest, cheapest, and easiest way of watering a raised garden bed.
You can fill water in a bowl or bottle container and then pour it all over the raised beds.
While pouring, you can use your hands to reduce the force of the water.
This will help break the water into small drops to avoid sudden stress in the raised beds.
You can also use a sprinkling can to water the plants instead of using containers.
By manual watering, you can easily control the amount of water you want to provide in your raised garden bed, but at the same time, this technique can be energy and time-consuming.
Manual watering needs individual efforts, like changing your schedule, waking up early in the morning, and making other necessary arrangements to provide water to the plants.
2. Garden hoses
The garden or soaker hoses is a flexible rubber or plastic tubes that carry water and are used to water the lawn or garden.
The water moves slowly through the nozzle at a particular flow rate in garden hoses.
This provides plants with an efficient amount of water.
With the help of this technique, the moisture reaches the root system quickly without any excess water force.
Also, one more benefit is the water delivers directly to the roots, which helps to keep the leaves and other parts of the plants dry and decreases the chances of fungal diseases or infections.
If the plant is very sensitive and young, don’t place the garden hose directly on its face.
Also, use a nozzle with proper holes and provide a low and gentle pressure so that it will not damage the plants.
You can also keep the hose on the soil to allow the water to drain into the raised garden bed.
Sprinklers are a type of device with holes that provides water in a rainfall-like system.
Here, the water is evenly distributed through a pipe in small drops.
Sprinklers are mostly for large raised garden bed as it helps to distribute water over a huge distance.
But there can be some disadvantages to using sprinklers.
They can waste a lot of water, like 50-60%, because the water evaporates quickly in summer and windy climates before it gets to the roots.
Also, due to wet conditions, they help many fungal diseases and infections to thrive on wet leaves and can be easily spread to other parts of the plants.
Make sure to adjust the position of sprinklers frequently to provide the water equally in every part.
To ensure even watering, you can also use more than one sprinkler.
4. Drip lines
Drip lines allow water to drip slowly to the roots through pipes or tubes attached to nozzles or emitters.
Drip line irrigation requires proper planning to set up, but once it’s done, they have a lot of advantages.
A drip irrigation system not only helps to distribute the moisture at equal levels but also helps to provide an even shape and design by creating proper divisions in the raised garden bed.
The water through the drip irrigation system slowly into the soil, which helps to prevent excessive loss of water.
It is especially suitable for those places where the water gets restricted frequently.
The drip line irrigation system is set up by using flexible tubing with small holes, which helps to drain out the water from there slowly on the bed.
Keep the drip line near your plant so water reaches deep into the roots. Provide water through drip lines for about 15-30 minutes every time you start the watering session.
Make sure not to overwater the plants, as this technique provides continuous water at a slow rate.
This is one of the oldest techniques to water the crops in the raised garden bed.
Furrow is a type of irrigation where trenches are dug between the crops.
If you want to make your gardening life easier, you can dig a furrow or trenches in your raised garden bed that connect all the crops or plants.
When you pour water on the furrows, the water will run all over the dug-out channels to different parts of the plants.
One of the main advantages of this method is that it is lower in cost and provides water evenly to all plants, reducing the stress of excess moisture.
But they require a lot of labor, and it’s also less efficient than drip irrigation and sprinklers.
This method is mostly for crops, so if you are thinking of growing such in your raised garden bed, this is the most suitable technique.
When to water a raised garden bed?
The best time to water your plant in a raised garden bed is early morning and late evening.
But why? Let’s discuss this.
Watering in the early morning
This is one of the best time to water the plant as the water temperature and climatic temperature stays the same.
Therefore, the plant will not get stressed by a sudden shock.
Another reason is, at the start of the day, the plants have the highest ability to absorb water which helps them to thrive throughout the day.
Watering in the late evening
Throughout the day, plants absorb water from the soil.
And then the water is taken through the leaves through the process of transpiration.
During the evening, plants transform energy from water and sunlight to take in nutrients with the help of osmosis.
Without the presence of water, plants fail to take in sufficient nutrients, which is required.
So, it is necessary not to keep the soil completely dry at night.
When not to water your raised garden bed?
You should avoid watering during midday when the sun remains full until and unless you water the plant 3-4 times a day.
But if you are watering once a day, you should only water the plant during full sun exposure because the water will easily evaporate before it gets to the roots.
Also, the difference between hot climatic temperature and cold water during full sun exposure can cause sudden shock to the plant.
If you water during the afternoon, it’s better to use drip lines, sprinklers, and other automated techniques to keep the soil evenly moist.
How often should a raised garden bed be watered?
There are different factors on which watering is dependent.
Let’s list out all the factors:
- Plants growth and type
- Season or temperature
- Drainage quality
Plants growth and type
Watering requirements depend on the type of plant you are planting and its stages.
- Seedling stage: When you have just planted the seeds and converted them into seedlings, it requires moisture constantly. So, water them regularly. Try to keep the soil moist almost always, but make sure you only ever soak the soil. Also, avoid heavy watering as it can wash out the seeds before it reaches the seedling stage.
- Vegetable stage: When the plant has fully developed into a vegetable or fruit, it’ll need deep watering. There is no need to water regularly, but you need to make sure that the soil should be moist and not completely dry.
- Plants Type: How often you should water raised bed depends on the plants you are growing. Plants, for example, cucumbers and tomatoes, require more water than other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and potatoes.
Season or temperature
Different seasons have different watering requirements for a plant.
During the summer season, plants crave more water than on normal days as it becomes difficult for them to survive in extreme sunlight.
At least plants require 2-3 times more water in a warm climate than in a cold climate.
This happens because the evaporation rate increases to an extreme level during summer.
On the other hand, during the winter season, the plant doesn’t need that much moisture.
The region you are living in also determines the watering requirements.
The plant will need more water to keep the soil moist if you live in a dry region.
But if rain showers frequently in your region, you will have to water less in your raised beds and not regularly.
If the rain showers 1 inch per week, then there is no need to water extra to your raised beds, but if it showers less than 1 inch per week, you need to water your raised garden bed.
You can measure the rain with the help of a rain gauge.
If your raised bed drains water quickly, you must water them more frequently.
Otherwise, the soil becomes dry faster.
Soil quality also affects drainage.
If the soil retains more moisture, then frequent watering is not needed.
But if the soil drains water faster, you will need to water the raised bed regularly.
Should I water my raised beds every day?
You can water your raised beds daily if you are growing seeds or seedlings.
And in these cases, shallow watering will do.
But in any other case, you have to water thoroughly.
This will keep the soil wet for longer; therefore, you will not need to water it daily.
Watering mistakes to avoid while watering your raised garden bed
There are some common mistakes that you can make while watering your raised garden bed.
Let’s discuss this.
1. Unfamiliarity with the soil type
For healthy watering, you should know properly about the soil used in your raised garden bed.
Different soil has different abilities to retain moisture, so you must water accordingly.
If the soil drains water quickly, you need to water more, but if it doesn’t, you need to water less.
2. Underwatering or overwatering
People’s most common mistake is underwatering and overwatering, which should be avoided strictly.
Overwatering can threaten plants more than underwatering, as it can cause root rot disease and fungal infections.
To avoid underwatering, ensure the water goes deep into the soil.
At least water your plant slowly for about 25-30 minutes per week.
Always check the soil’s moisture using a finger or a moisture meter to avoid overwatering.
Also, wait until the soil becomes dry before watering.
3. Watering at the wrong time
People often need to correct mistakes by watering the raised garden bed during the harsh afternoon or at night.
The best time to water the plant is during the morning and evening as the evaporation rate is at its lowest.
The evaporation rate stays at its peak during the afternoon so that the soil can become dry quickly.
While it’s bad for plants to give water at night as this will make them sit on water overnight, which can invite many fungal diseases and pests.
4. Fertilizing before watering the garden
Fertilizing the raised bed before watering will not cause any benefit to your plant as all the fertilizers will drain away with water.
Make sure to water the plants first, then apply fertilizers to your raised garden bed after waiting a few hours.
5. Not mulching
Mulching is important to keep the soil’s moisture consistent.
For mulching, use materials that can easily break down and won’t restrict the water drainage or flow.
6. Not changing the watering schedule for the weather
According to the changing weather, you need to change the watering needs.
When the weather is extremely hot, raised beds require water more often.
In contrast, you should reduce watering if the weather is wet and cool.
7. Not looking for leaks
It is necessary to check for leaks if you use any irrigation system and hoses.
Leaks can reduce water pressure and also it will waste resources.
8. Not changing the watering requirements for the plant type
You should always change the watering requirements according to the different plants.
For example, deep-rooted plants like tomatoes need to be watered less than shallow-rooted plants like cauliflower.
Keep proper knowledge about the plant and adjust the watering schedule.
Plant health depends on how you are watering them. For maintaining proper watering, you need to understand the plant’s type, drainage quality, soil type, and time.
Remember, changing weather and season can greatly impact how often and when you should water your raised garden bed.
Watering the plant properly will give proper consistency and make it much easier for you to maintain plant health. So, choose the watering ways carefully.
Reference: ScienceDirect, American Society of Agronomy, Noble Research Institute, Soil for Raised Beds, Raised Bed Gardening.