Article by Mina Phillips
Watering your garden correctly isn’t difficult. However, being able to recognise when your plants are overwatered, underwatered or being watered incorrectly can significantly increase the look and health of your garden. We guide you through efficient ways to keep your garden hydrated and vibrant, year-round.
How often should I water my garden?
“Usually when the top of the soil (about an inch) is dry”, advises Zones landscaping project manager Tracey Barker. “In the hot summer months, it can be daily. We were given advice, from our lawn contractor and nurseries contractor, that the best thing to do is water deeply about three times per week rather than every day. In winter you don’t need to water as often due to rain. Just check the dryness of the soil.”
Always try to water your garden early in the morning, as the warmth of the day will prevent fungal growth on the soil. Watering in the middle of the day, especially during the warmer months, can be damaging to plants as they can get burnt by the sun.
Keep in mind that different plants will have different requirements. Seedlings need moist soil to grow and should be watered daily. Once your plants are settled you can begin a watering regime; watering them well, a few times a week, rather than every day.
Irrigation systems are an ideal way to water your garden, as they are consistent and conserve water. Automated control systems make it especially easy to use an irrigation system; with timers and sensors providing optimum watering scheduling.
Keeping up with the varying needs of different types of plants can sometimes get confusing. If you require assistance in keeping your garden healthy and accurately watered, a Zones maintenance specialist can help.
How do I know when to stop watering my garden?
Brown leaves, wet and wilting plants, yellow leaves, slow growth and root rot are all signs that your plants may be getting overwatered, according to Tracey.
Overwatering potted plants is easy to do, as they are in an enclosed habitat where there is a small amount of soil for water to spread through. Ensuring your potted plants are in light, good quality soil, and have good drainage, will prevent overwatering.
Checking the dampness of the soil will help you to know when your plants are ready for water. The use of a water metre is another way to keep track of how much water your plants are receiving.
If your plants are already suffering from too much water, you might still be able to save them. Gently remove potted or garden bed plants from the soil and inspect the roots. Trim away any soggy, smelly roots - leaving only the strong healthy ones. Ensure you also trim the top of the plant so that the roots are not under too much pressure. Replant in new soil, giving bedded plants time to dry out beforehand. Potted plants should either be planted in a new pot, or the original pot should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before being used again.
What is the best irrigation system for my garden?
Irrigation systems are a great way to maintain the health of your garden, especially if you are on a busy schedule. Irrigation systems give you the opportunity to water your garden at optimal times, without having to lift a finger. They can also provide a more direct watering, which is better for your plants and water conservation. However, with so many styles available, it can be difficult to know which style is best.
The garden hose
While it might seem the easiest option, a garden hose is not the best option when it comes to watering your garden. According to Shane Brady from Advanced Irrigation Systems, there are many reasons to choose an irrigation system over the garden hose. A garden hose will not provide the even distribution you will achieve with an irrigation system, nor will it conserve water to the extent of a drip irrigation system. Unlike irrigation systems, a garden hose won’t water your plants for you when you can’t be home.
Drip irrigation is an effective and aesthetically ideal garden irrigation choice. Drip line irrigation delivers water straight into the soil, feeding plant roots directly. The irrigation pipes can be hidden in the garden bed, keeping your garden looking attractive. Having the water delivered directly into the soil also protects plants from being scorched by the sun. Drip irrigation is easy to repair and is long-lasting.
Drip tape, another form of drip irrigation, delivers irrigation through a thin tube. This style, however, is not designed to last as long as drip-line irrigation.
According to Shane, drip line systems are the most efficient choice for home gardens. Drip irrigation not only feeds plant roots directly, they provide little risk of wasting water in other areas, as they are under the garden.
Micro sprays are a common garden irrigation method. Shane states that while they are easy to install and cost-effective, micro sprays can easily be impacted by the wind. Unlike drip lines, this type of watering happens above ground - a less aesthetically pleasing option.
Soaker hoses are an irrigation system which can be placed along your garden. Unlike a normal hose, the entire length of a soaker hose seeps water into the garden. Similar to drip irrigation, soaker hoses feed water directly into the soil and save on water usage. While most soaker hoses are made from rubber and polyethylene plastic, there are BPA-free models available on the market.
With proper maintenance, irrigation systems can last at least 10 to 20 years. Getting your money’s worth comes down to using quality materials and ensuring the irrigation system is designed and installed properly. This includes opting for high quality piping, which will help in long term maintenance.
How do I install an irrigation system?
Whatever irrigation method you choose, Shane emphasises the importance of planning your design and working with a specialist. He suggests working with a landscape advisor in considering the requirements of the plants in your garden, the soil being used and your budget.
Irrigation systems, especially drip line irrigation, require careful planning and installation. Working with a specialist will save you time and money in the long run. To begin a design and installation project that works best for your garden, get in touch with a Zones landscaping specialist.
How much does an irrigation system cost in NZ?
Irrigation system costs vary significantly depending on the irrigation system itself, the size of the garden as well as the complexity of the design and installation. While some irrigation systems are more affordable than others, sacrificing on quality and design could cost you long term. Working with with a landscaping/irrigation specialist is the best way to save on costs and enjoy a long-lasting irrigation system.
Drip irrigation vs. sprinkler costs
The cost of drip line pipes alone can range from $50 - $200+ per 100 metres. On top of this you will need to consider the costs of additional materials, such as adapters, fit pipe connections and T-bars. Other cost considerations include design, installation and automation systems. While drip lines do require more parts, they provide high-quality irrigation. Alternatively, soaker hoses can range from $35 - $60+ and sprinklers from $20 - $60+. A specialist can recommend the best option for your garden and budget.
Irrigation systems on a budget
The most affordable form of irrigation, in the short term, is probably microjet irrigation, according to Advanced Irrigation Systems business manager Shane Brady. However, he warns that there are disadvantages to using this type of system. Firstly, it doesn’t target the roots of plants like drip irrigation does. Secondly, micro jet irrigation puts plastic on display within your garden, a less than ideal garden aesthetic. Micro-jet irrigation is also easily affected by the wind, reducing watering efficiency and conservation.
To keep your budget down, Shane recommends starting with a plan. Having a scale drawing of what you want to order, as well as a measurement of your available water supply, will make it easy for your specialist to provide you with a cost estimate. From there, he advises working with an expert to design your project. If it’s not designed well from the start it is less likely to be water efficient and will increase the system running costs.
“Expert advice in design will save money”, advises Shane.
Irrigation on a mid to high-range budget
If your budget allows for it, Shane recommends opting for a high-quality drip line installation. High-quality materials reduce the chances of expensive repairs later on and are far more likely to give you the garden results you are seeking.
The cost of automated irrigation systems
Automation systems can make watering your garden an incredibly easy process. Timers are available for $130 - $200+, many of which include wifi features, seasonal adjustments, customisable settings and notifications.
Rain sensors are another irrigation automation option and are great at reducing water wastage. Rain sensors shut off the water flow of irrigation systems when it begins to rain, and begin irrigation schedules when garden soil is dry. Some rain sensors include freeze sensors, which will pause watering schedules when they sense lower temperature settings. Rain sensor prices range from $30 - $220+
Installation and maintenance
For optimum garden health, it is important to regularly carry out maintenance on your irrigation system. A lack of maintenance can result in inadequate water efficiency, runoff pollution and a shorter lifespan for your system. Zones landscaping maintenance professionals provide irrigation maintenance services, including; automation checks, wire checks, battery checks and overall garden maintenance and care.
If you would like to discuss your irrigation needs with a landscape designer or maintenance professional, get in touch with the team at Zones landscaping. We have specialists across New Zealand who can work with you to install an irrigation system that fits within your budget.
*Please note: These prices are an estimation only. For a cost estimate that is accurate to your project, please consult a specialist.
How to save water during summer gardening
With people throughout the world becoming increasingly conscious of water usage, there are simple changes we can all make in the garden to conserve water - and the bills that come with it. From monitoring your water usage, to installing rainwater catchment systems, we offer our top tips on saving water.
What are the best ways to save water during a drought?
Zones landscaping project manager, Tracey Barker, recommends the following steps to save water during the summer heat.
- Adjust your sprinklers so you are only watering the lawn or garden, and not the house or surrounding driveway and paths
- Check the absorption of water in your lawn and/or garden. See if the water is running off the lawn easily and, if it is, you can split watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption, as opposed to wasting water with run off
- Look for moisture before watering, as the plant may not need it.
- Use mulch around the base of plants/trees as this helps to keep moisture in
What features could I install to lower my water consumption in the garden?
Rainwater harvesting systems
Rainwater harvesting systems are a natural and safe way to water your garden. Rainwater harvesting involves collecting, storing and using rainwater for gardening, cleaning and, when filtered correctly, for drinking. Rainwater collection systems require the installation of a rainwater tank and need regular maintenance.
Expect to pay $15,000+ for a rainwater harvesting system. If you are interested in installing a rainwater harvesting system get in touch with a specialist, as it can be a complicated process.
Another option is to install a greywater system. Greywater is household wastewater, which may be water from your shower or laundry. Greywater systems redirect and reuse this wastewater. It can be used to water your garden through the use of an irrigation system or storage tank. The cost of installing a greywater system can range from $4,000 - $20,000+.
While a great way of reusing water, greywater systems do require, sometimes complicated, installation and maintenance. Greywater should not come into contact with humans, so wearing gloves is recommended when dealing with it.
When watering your garden with greywater, it should be designed to water the plants under the soil. Greywater should not be used to water edible plants.
Automated irrigation systems
Installing an automated irrigation system will ensure your plants get the water they need without any excess water being wasted. Automated timers and sensors manage irrigation so that plants are watered at ideal times. For more information on irrigation systems see (LINK: What is the best irrigation system for my garden?) above article.
What plants are a good choice if I want to save water?
Succulents are a great choice for anyone who wants an easy to maintain garden. Succulents are sturdy plants and require minimal amounts of water. A succulent garden can provide an attractive, desert-style landscape. They also can be attractive, easy to manage indoor plants.
Some succulent ideas to try in your garden:
- String of pearls
To begin the design and plan of your next garden project, or for rainwater harvesting or greywater system installation and maintenance, get in touch with a Zones maintenance specialist.
How do I water my garden while on holiday?
Modern technology makes it easy to keep your garden healthy while on holiday. With irrigation systems being the most efficient watering option, installing an automated control system makes it even simpler to care for your garden anytime, from anywhere. There are a range of automatic control systems available that include wifi timers, rain sensors, freeze systems and customisable settings.
What automation systems can I choose from?
“A big part of water efficiency is automating the system”, emphasises Shane Brady from Advanced Irrigation Systems.
Whether you are at home, or on holiday, installing an automatic irrigation control system is a clever way to care for your garden on the go. It also takes away the risk of accidentally leaving the garden hose on for an extended period of time or returning home to a wilting garden. Advanced Irrigation Systems offer Rain Bird irrigation control systems, including:
Wifi & Smart Timers
Rain Bird’s wifi/smart timers provide customisable, easy irrigation control. They boast features such as adjustable watering schedules, notification alerts and multiple timer control options for those who have more than one property to manage.
Fixed Indoor/Outdoor Timers
Rainbird indoor/outdoor timers offer easy to use settings and the option of creating different settings for different areas of the garden. Other features include rain delay commands, seasonal adjustments, short circuit warnings and watering halt and memory storage.
Battery Operated & Hose End Timers
Rain Bird battery run garden hose timers can be used for sprinkler, soaker hose or drip irrigation. These robust timers are designed for year round outdoor use and include override buttons that can instantly water or halt watering, regardless of pre-settings.
Rain & Freeze Sensors
Rainbird rain/freeze sensors ensure your garden won’t be overwatered. These sensors halt irrigation watering schedules when it rains and when the temperature falls beneath the entered setting. These battery run controllers are a great way to conserve water.
A great way to maintain garden health and conserve water, moisture sensors pick up on the moisture levels of your garden soil. Watering schedules are controlled by the levels of moisture detected in the soil.
When is the best time to set my irrigation timer for?
Shane, from Advanced Irrigation Systems, recommends watering your garden between 2-3 AM, as there is usually, “no wind, no one else using water, no evaporation issues and it prevents fungal issues.”
What is involved in installing an automation system installation?
Depending on the automation system you choose, you will likely require the assistance of a specialist, qualified builder or qualified electrician. If you choose to hardwire a wall mounted control system, you will require the assistance of a registered electrician.
Can Zones maintain my garden while I am on holiday?
Zones provide maintenance and cleaning solutions for any and all landscaping and garden needs. If you want someone to manage the presentation and health of your garden, as Zones maintenance provider can be scheduled for weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or annual visits. For a detailed list of the maintenance services Zones provide, click here.
If you would like to find out more about how a Zones specialist can assist you in caring for and maintaining your garden, whether you are at home or away, get in touch here for a free consultation.
For more information on sustainable landscaping and creating your own living roof, get in touch with Zones to arrange a free consultation.