Home & Garden

Here’s how to water your garden efficiently

Q. I need help understanding the different ways to water my gardens.

Jason D., Templeton

A. It’s important to take the time to design and install a workable irrigation system that accurately waters and minimizes water waste. Or, hire someone to do it for you. A hand-watering regimen is difficult to do accurately and efficiently.

In addition, hand watering is difficult to maintain without the help of friends and neighbors during vacations and other times we stray from home. Prevent the needless suffering in the garden and install an irrigation system.

Two choices work well in a landscape or vegetable garden.

One system requires an electric controller. The controller is wired to valves that are placed in a group or throughout your landscape. PVC pipe is connected to the valves and risers with nozzles are attached strategically to water a specific section. A typical landscape may include a lawn, rose garden, plot for annuals, row of trees, vegetable garden or some combination of them. Each planting area has a different water requirement and each controller can be programmed to designate the day(s), time, and number of minutes to irrigate each area.

The second system is drip irrigation. It may be considered the micro-manager system. Options include an electric- or battery-operated controller. Half-inch flexible plastic tubing can be used in place of PVC pipe. Include a pressure reducer because drip systems can’t handle the same amount of water pressure as PVC systems.

Adding a filter will prevent debris and sediments from plugging emitters. Strategically insert emitters into the tubing to reach the target trees and plants. The emitters are calibrated from one half-gallon per minute to several gallons per minute. When the water goes only where it’s needed, you’re minimizing the watering of unseen weed seeds, as is done with traditional sprinklers.

It is imperative to periodically troubleshoot your watering system. Power goes out, batteries die, nozzles and emitters will get plugged, risers get broken, fittings come loose, and leaks will develop. Turn on the system and inspect the tubing and each emitter to identify problem areas and repair as soon as possible.

Leonard Cicerello is a UCCE Master Gardener.

Got a gardening question?

In San Luis Obispo call 781-5939, Arroyo Grande, 473-7190 and Templeton, 434-4105. Visit us at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or email us at anrmgslo@ucanr.edu. Follow us on Instagram at slo_mgs and like us on Facebook. Informative garden workshops are held the third Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. to noon at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Garden docents are available after the workshop until 1 p.m. To request a tour of the garden, call 781-5939.