When is the Best Time to Water Your Garden?

Ed Wike
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The Absolute Best Time: As Early as Possible in the Morning

If given the chance to make tea in your garden, you and I would choose a time when the sun isn’t out yet; when there isn’t a cloud in the sky and when we wouldn’t get rained on. But, unfortunately, you can’t water your garden by asking these conditions to happen at a particular time of day.

But just because these conditions can’t be controlled doesn’t mean you can’t control your watering schedule.

Our bodies are designed to work in cycles. Most of us get up early (certainly before the sun rises). It’s the most energy efficient way for our bodies to function. Our hearts beat fast. Our breathing is shallow. Our body temperature rises. Meditation helps our bodies get into rhythm with this new energy.

It stands to reason our bodies would want us to do things that help be in rhythm with the cycles of nature, too. And it also stands to reason that if we’re in harmony with nature's cycles, we’re more likely to be healthier.

That’s why the best time to water your garden, if you have a choice, is early in the morning.

The Second Best Time to Water Your Garden: The Late Afternoon / Early Evening

Sending irrigation water into a sun-warmed garden makes its way into the ground much faster than water applied to a cool winter garden. Watering in the late afternoon also helps soils to cool down quickly once the sun goes down. This reduces the following day's soil temperature spike and the early onset of soil/vegetative plant tissue temperature spikes that can cause crop damage.

The downside to watering in the late afternoon is less crop production is accomplished. Water that hits the garden in late afternoon will have less than 4 hours to evaporate into the air before darkness stops evaporation over the garden.

Soil moisture measurements from a recent study [1] by mine and Dr. Wayne Lewis at Washington State University show that some crops grown in the early and mid-afternoon (i.e. strawberries, blueberries) can get enough water from irrigation done in the afternoon, while some crops (peppers, tomatoes) need water applied in the early morning. Crop water requirements for other crops and micro-climates may also produce different results than those in the study's data.

Overall, it pays to take your own soil moisture and temperature measurements and put them into a spreadsheet to determine the best irrigation event frequency and times for your garden's micro-climate.

Do Not Water at Night

The frequency of watering is another important factor. Frequent watering can cause the roots to rot. Under waterlogged conditions, roots will usually die first leaving the plant to wither and die.

It is important to understand that when watering your plants, drainage is an important factor. If your plants are in the ground, the excess water will drain away from the roots. However, if you are using containers, the drainage holes can fill with dirt and block the water from escaping. This can lead to the potted plants leaves turning yellow, wilting and then eventually to death.

Well, these are the basics when it comes to watering your plants. When it comes to the frequency and timing of your watering, make sure that your plants have the appropriate amount of water while keeping the root system healthy and strong.

Tips for Watering Your Garden

If you’re like millions of other Americans, then probably every day when you come home you check your mailbox, pet the dog, and water your garden.

And while doing that you think, what kind of this thing is. What species is it? What does it need? And how much. It is much easier to water a plant that looks good, but with some basic information it is also easy to help a plant to look good.

Checking your plants and watering appropriately is one of the most important things you can do to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Not all plants need the same amount of water, so naturally, you’d want to water the plants that need the most water most often, and the plants that need the least water less often.

If you have a smart phone and use a plant-watering app, you can monitor the needs of all your plants and adjust your schedule accordingly to suit your garden.

Some plants, like strawberries and roses, need more water, while some plants, like cottonwoods, need very little water. Plants have developed these varying relationships with water to maximize their chances of survival.

Here is a basic guide to help you keep your garden growing healthy.