How to choose  a watering system for your vegetable patch?

How to choose a watering system for your vegetable patch?

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

Guide written by:

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

57 guides

Watering your vegetable patch can be assured with a watering can, a garden hose, an automatic sprinkler or a drip irrigation system, among other options. If water conservation is a priority, you can add a rainwater recover or pump water from a well. Other factors like the frenquency and quantity used during watering sessions, along with what time you choose to water the plants will depend on the actual species and the climate in the region.    

Important features

  • Type of water
  • Type of watering
  • Quantity
  • Frequency
  • Time of the day
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Watering your vegetable patch: what's the best type of water

It is an unrealistic, especially in France, to expect your vegetable patch can thrive without regular watering. Fortunately, watering techniques have evolved leaps and bounds in just a few decades, offering a whole hosts of different formulas that gardeners can use. One basic example is choosing a certain type water so that your vegetables are not at risk from drying out over the summer.



Rainwater is ideal for the vegetable patch and completely free! This is the main reason that the recovery of rainwater has become very popular nowadays. Different storage tanks, referred to as rainwater collectors, either freestanding or underground, that can connect to the gutter are readily available by top manufacturers.



Groundwater is essentially composed of welland spring water. While the quality can vary, this source is very cold: it's best to store the water several hours on the surface before watering the plants. Fetching the water can be done with manual pumps, surface pumps or underground pumps.

Water from rivers and ponds


This is another source of water in which the quality is variable and depends on the crops and livestock in proximity. In addition, removing this precious resources from natural bodies of water is often prohibited or subject to strict regulations
It's best to be well acquainted with any applicable laws before getting started. Just like well and spring water, a water pump may be required.

Tap water


This water may or may not be overly chlorinated, but simply leaving it out for 24 hours will significantly reduce its chlorine content. It is then generally transferred to a watering can, an automatic watering system or a watering lance or spray gun.

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Automatic watering system

The different methods of watering


Small vegetable patch: manual watering

Manual watering is the easiest method to undetake. It can be done with a watering can, which may or may not be equpped with a sprinkler head, or a garden hose with a quick coupling to a watering lance or an adjustable spray gun (the best is an anti-twist hose).

Due to its design, a watering can allows you to water the plants' stem, which offers the triple advantage of saving waternot wetting the foliage and not promoting the growth of weeds around the plant. Some vegetables, like salads and cabbages, tend to fare better when  receiving rain-like watering.  This is also the only method that efficiently provides water to new seedlings.


Watering with sprinklers

These sprinklers are installed at the end of a hose. Among the various existing models, an oscillating sprinkler is the ideal choice for your vegetable patch. You can even find low-pressure models that specialize in diffusing fine droplets.



Water, supplied at low pressure, flows through a porous hose placed on the ground or, in the case of drip irrigation systems, by drip heads which secretes the water drip bu trip. This type of irrigation focuses on specific plants, providing them with water very slowly and regularly, thus saving you money.

Both of these watering systems can eventually be linked to a programmer, which is practical for evening watering, when you're out or away for a prolonged trip. Watering programmers are available in a diverse range of various models, that feautre several technologies, including rain gauge and smartphone applications, to name but a few.

Fully automatic watering systems can be expensive, especially if it is undergroumd.

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Drip heads

Watering the vegetable patch: frequency and quantity


The frequency and quanitity of water supply will of course depend on the climatic conditions but also on the type of vegetables and the nature of the soil.

As a general rule, sandy soils act as afilter so they therefore must be watered more often, but in smaller quantites of water each time compared to soils that are better at retaiingn water (clay soils).

Watering your vegetable patch too often will accomplish nothing, even in the heart of summer. Excessive watering can cause cryptogamic diseases, leaching of the soil (deep migration of nutrients), and the production of less tasty vegetables.

With the exception of  seedlings, that need to be watered more often, it is best to space out watering sessions, but use more water each time. This way, the water penetrates deeper into the earth, which causes the plants' roots to follow suit in order to reach the water. If the roots are deeper, the plant will be more resilient to the possibility of drought, which starts to affect plants at their surface.

Water at the best time of the day


It's best to water your plants in the evening, as less water will evaporate at night.

That being said, if ever you anticipate the possibility of a nightly frost, which can start to occur at the beginning or end of the season on elevated zones, it's better to provide your plants with water early in the day. No matter what time you choose, try to  avoid watering them in direct sunlight.

More Information

Your bountiful vegetable patch will not last unless it is properly watered. Although this may seem like a simple exercise, there are many nuances that need to be factored in. For more tips on keeping your garden or vegetable patch looking lush and green, follow the links below for gardening-related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 57 guides

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy.   At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood.   I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.

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