Whenever I plant a new flower garden for one of my clients, I give the “watering talk,” in which I underscore the importance of watering during the first year. I note that standing at the garden’s edge with a hose and a sprayer (one hand on the hip), is not watering. Sure, it might feel good, but it’s not watering.
Watering is a slow process, best done by the drop. By using soaker hoses or drip irrigation, you ensure that water percolates to the root zone. I recommend adding a soaker hose to any new garden, putting it in place before the mulch goes down. Another good addition: a timer. That way, you don’t have to remember to shut the hose off. In many situations, I like soakers better than drip systems because they’re more temporary. It’s easy to move or reconfigure as the garden evolves and plants are added or moved. Although you can leave the soaker in place through the winter, I take the whole thing up in fall because it’s easier to do garden clean-up.
Even existing garden beds benefit from a soaker hose because it makes it easy to water efficiently and thoroughly. No need to set up a sprinkler and adjust its coverage. No wasted water due to runoff. Just hook up the hose and let it soak.
My most recent project was a 50 x 50-foot flower garden that’s on a 45-degree slope. Because of the 45-degree site, the garden looks magnificent, especially when viewed from the porch. At the top of the slope, the surrounding woodland forms a nice backdrop. However, the clients found it difficult to water the bed because of the size and the incline. Plus, the upper section of the garden is often dry while the lower section remains on the wet side. We solved the problem with four 50-foot soaker hoses. Near the top of the slope, I set up a four-way valve with a length of soaker hose connected to each opening. From there, I ran the hoses across the slope — not up and down, which would affect the flow of water. By having four zones, the clients can water the drier sections as needed. I used Earth Staples to anchor the soaker hose and then covered it with bark mulch.
These soaker hose gardens thrive because watering is easy and effective. Did I say that it’s easy? Now, if I could just get my clients to remember to feed their plants.