4) Water Deeply but Infrequently
While it may seem counter-intuitive, watering less frequently but more deeply encourages roots to grow further down to find water when it’s unavailable near soil level. The alternative of frequent, brief irrigation sessions never encourages roots to seek water elsewhere since all they need (for now) is found at the surface.
The problem with this approach is that frequent watering makes plants less drought-tolerant. This is especially true with lawns. Typically, lawns are thirsty places. We often make the mistake of providing short sessions of frequent irrigation. Changing that approach to longer sessions less often promotes deeper root growth less demand for water.
5) Direct Water Right Where it’s Needed
The best way to conserve water in your ornamental and edible beds is to direct water directly to the soil and around the roots. The best way to do that is with soaker hoses and drip irrigation. And when you follow that up with a layer of mulch on top, nearly 100% of water goes exactly where it’s needed.
Soaker hoses are best when you need to get water to a general area, such as a vegetable or flower bed. Water seeps out of porous hoses slowly and evenly, eventually saturating the soil under the length of the hose.
Drip irrigation utilizes small, spaghetti-like tubing and plastic emitters at the end to deliver a slow, steady supply of water to a precise spot. They’re ideally suited for containers and also work well around shrubs. Drip systems are inexpensive, easy to use and offer the very best solution to keeping container plants hydrated with minimal water use.
In either case, I love using these methods combined with a simple battery operated timer. The combination allows me to deliver water slowly and precisely where roots can find and absorb it while doing so at the optimal time of day and with no need from me to turn it on or off.
It’s simply the best of all worlds when it comes to conserving water (and time) wherever practical to provide supplemental irrigation.