Watering and Irrigation

Keeping your garden beautiful can be one of the most rewarding tasks – once you’ve planted that border or vegetable bed, watching your crops thrive and bloom is hugely satisfying. Watering your garden is essential part of maintaining the health and vitality of your plants, and encouraging good cropping of vegetables and fruits.

This guide explains how to make the most of hosepipes, sprinklers and irrigation systems, as well as providing top tips for maintaining different areas of your garden. Why not also consider installing a water butt to help conserve water and provide a ready source for watering right where you need it?

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Where to water

The best tools for watering depend upon the size of your garden and the plants you’re nurturing. Container gardening has very different needs to those of shady borders, so adapt your watering to your garden’s needs.

  • Pots and containers

    Bedding plants are thirsty and will require regular watering to keep blooming. As pots and hanging baskets are often located in sunny spots such as patios, the soil will dry out quickly. Use a watering can with spout to reach the roots, or try a telescopic wand attached to a hose to reach up to handing baskets. This Verve Watering Wand is perfect for the job.

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  • Borders and beds

    For larger areas that require watering, a hosepipe can be a great help, saving you from filling up watering cans time and time again. Choose a hose that is long enough for your garden, and choose from our selection of connectors to join two together if needed. Select a nozzle, sprayer or gun to attach to the end of the hose to prevent water wastage and direct the water exactly where needed.

    Growing young bedding plants? Spray lightly with a mist from the hose or using a rose on the watering can spout. This will help to reach all seedlings or plants but will be gentle enough not to damage the young leaves.

    Maintaining established plants and shrubs? Use the hose gun to direct a stronger flow of water to the base of the plant or use a watering can. These plants can be thirsty so apply quantities to the roots rather than watering the bed as a whole.

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  • Vegetable and fruit gardens

    Soft fruits and salad vegetables need lots of water to crop successfully, so time saving options such as irrigation systems can be a huge help. Young leaves and seedlings will require drenching with a hose sprayer or watering can with rose attachment. More established crops will need water directed at their roots, so use a nozzle attachment on a hose to water the base of plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and courgettes. More mature crops which grow close to the ground are best watered with a hosepipe spray – aim this as close to the ground as possible. This method is best suited to salad leaves, such as lettuce, rocket and beetroots, and strawberry beds.

    Greenhouses and raised beds are the perfect location for irrigation systems. Best installed with a timer to turn the water supply on for you, irrigation systems drip feed water to the base of the plant and make it easy to control exactly which plants are watered, and how much.

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  • Grasses and lawn

    On the whole, grasses tend to be amongst the most resilient species in the garden. However, recently laid lawns and those which have experienced a prolonged period of drought, may benefit from watering. In this case, it’s best to opt for a lawn sprinkler which can cover a large area of ground. Control this using a timer, or take care to monitor how long you water for as sprinklers can consume large quantities of water.

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Hoses and accessories

Hoses are essential garden tools which help with a huge range of watering and cleaning tasks. Using the right accessories will allow you to make the most of these and make garden care simple.

  • Choosing your hose

    There are three important things to take into consideration when choosing a hosepipe;

    • Length. Choose a hose that is long enough to reach where you need it to.
    • Durability. If you’re planning to use your hose frequently, opt for one designed for heavier duty use.
    • Storage. Hose reels provide an easy way to keep your hose tidy. If you’ve limited space or your hose is likely to be on show, choose a hose with reel.
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    Don’t forget you’ll also need a connector to join your hosepipe to an outdoor tap.

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  • Guns, Sprayer, Nozzles and Lances

    Make the most of your hosepipe by choosing the right accessories for your gardening needs. Guns, sprayers and nozzles allow you to control the flow of water from the user end of the hose rather than the tap. This saves you wasting water as you reach your beds and borders, and allows you to adapt from a spray mist to faster flow of water dependent on the plant type. Lances help you water plants that are out of reach – in hanging baskets, or the centre of beds and borders.

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  • Reach further

    Have a larger garden? We have a wide range of hose connectors which will allow you to join multiple hosepipes together. Or, if you’ve a helping hand in the garden, try using a connector to run two hoses from one tap – to get the job done twice as fast.

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Irrigation systems

Irrigation systems are the ideal solution for busy gardeners as well as those with larger spaces to water. Essentially an automated watering system, they comprise a series of links hoses, drippers and sprinklers, and are usually controlled by a mechanical or electric timer.

Once set up, an irrigation system will look after your watering needs, giving you more time to enjoy your outdoor space or keep your plants hydrated while you’re away.

Irrigation systems can be installed anywhere, so long as they are with reach of a tap. They are ideally suited to greenhouses and raised beds, but can also provide an efficient way to water vegetable beds or even groups of containers and pots.

If you’re new to irrigation, a starter kit can be a good starting point. We’ve a range to get you going.

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Alternatively, build your own kit from our range of components to provide a truly customised solution to suit your garden or greenhouse.

  • Irrigation hoses

    The skeleton of an irrigation system, irrigation hoses are narrower than regular hose pipes to help regulate the flow of water. Use connectors to extend your system by linking multiple hoses together. Hose stakes and wall clips help to guide the hose where you need it to target the base of plants.

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  • Drippers and sprinklers

    Drippers and sprinklers deliver water to the plants and soil from the irrigation hose. How many you need is dependant upon the number of plants you are watering – there are no fixed rules but consider the spacing between plants and the amount of water needed for the crop you are growing. Drippers are best suited to larger plants, whilst sprinklers are ideal for seedlings and salad crops.

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  • Timers

    The finishing touch! Irrigation systems offer the ultimate in convenience, and with a timer, you don’t even need to turn on the tap. Electronic and mechanical timers all do the same thing, although some are more sophisticated than others. Use to control when water flows through your system – set the timer for when you would like the water to come on, and for how long. This makes it easy to ensure your plants are watered at a cooler time of day, and when you are out. A well set-up irrigation system can even look after your plants when you are away from home or on holiday.

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Water butts

Whether you’re a keen gardener or starting out, installing a water butt in your garden is the perfect way to make watering easy, and minimise your impact on the environment.

Recent dry summers have shown how our gardens and green spaces can suffer without enough water, but with hosepipe bans and water meters it can be hard to look after our outdoor spaces. A water butt will allow to you collect rainwater and use this watering and other garden tasks. Easy to install and easy to use, they’re an essential addition to any home.

  • How to choose a water butt

    Which water butt is best for your garden depends upon the space you have available, and the appearance you prefer. Slimline water butts are a great solution for smaller spaces and decorative water butts with wood-effect finishes are a good choice if yours is likely to be on display. You can always add screening or plant the surrounding area if you’d rather it was hidden from view – just remember to make sure it’s still accessible.

    It’s a good idea to locate your water butt on a stand, so that it is easy to fill buckets and watering cans from the tap. We sell a range of water butt stands that are simple to use, or you could build your own from bricks or blockwork.

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  • How to install a water butt

    Water butts are connected to downpipes from the guttering on houses, garages, sheds or greenhouses, using a diverter that feed into the water butt.

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  • Water butt pumps

    Installing your water butt is only the firs step to making good use of your own water supply. They’re ideal if you plan to use water by bucket or watering can but often the water pressure is too low to use with a hosepipe. A water butt pump can help and enable you to use a hose to water areas further from your water butt, or even for outdoor cleaning tasks. This pump pressurizes water in the tank to use with a garden hose.

  • Water butt safety

    Always ensure that you use the lid supplied with a water butt make sure that it is fitted securely. Not only will this make this safer for children and animals, it also prevents vegetation and debris from landing in the water and tainting it.

Top tips

  • Target your watering

    Use a watering can, hosepipe or drip irrigation system to reach the base of plants. This helps in three ways; it allows water to reach the roots as quickly as possible, it prevents evaporation of water from leaves which can cause scorching in hot weather and evaporation from the soil is reduced as the base is shaded by the plant’s leaves.

  • Time your watering

    Water your garden at the right time of day where possible. Watering early in the morning or during the evening will help to give plants as greater chance of absorbing moisture as it is generally cooler. During the warmest part of the day more water will be lost to evaporation, reducing its effectiveness.

    Try using a timer to control irrigation systems or sprinklers, and set this for early in the morning.

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  • Plant wisely

    Choosing the right plants and crops for your soil type and climate will help your garden to resist dry spells. Drought-resistant species will require less watering and maintenance. Lavenders, Buddleia, Lilacs and Roses are all tolerant of drier conditions, and Alliums, Irises, Lillies, Osteospermum, Poppies and Sweet Peas look great in borders but don’t require intensive watering. In the vegetable garden, Mediterranean crops such as onions, garlic, courgettes and squashes thrive in warm, dry conditions.

  • Plan ahead

    Make life easy for yourself by incorporating watering into your garden layout. If you have a greenhouse, consider installing a water butt to collect rainwater from the roof, so you always have a water supply to hand. Plant ‘thirsty’ species and place pots and containers near to a tap or water butt where possible, and if you have a larger garden, consider installing an irrigation system to do the hard work for you.

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  • Water when you need to

    Don’t feel you need to water all your plants, every day. During milder weather, leave your plants a little longer, but remember that if it is warmer than usual the opposite applies and you may need to water more often. Young plants and recently re-turfed lawns will require the closest attention, as well as plants in containers and salad crops. The texture of the soil and general appearance of the plant should be the best indicator of whether watering is needed. If the soil appears moist and plant looks healthy, water the following day instead.