Start a discussion

The Bunnings Workshop community can help with your home improvement projects.

How to water your garden

Valued Contributor

Hero 01.png


Water is essential for a quality garden. As we strive to be more sustainable, how do we keep our gardens looking their best while also conserving water? It all starts with the equipment and using water wisely. This guide shows you how.


Check your watering equipment


A hose reel keeps your watering gear tidy and protected.A hose reel keeps your watering gear tidy and protected.Having a quality hose and fittings is essential. Your hose should be free from leaks and shouldn’t kink or knot. When you open the tap with the nozzle closed it shouldn’t swell when under pressure. If it does any of these things then it’s time to repair or replace it.


If your hose is in good condition apart from a leak, you can buy a joiner, cut out the damaged section and repair it.


While your tap is fully turned for maximum water pressure, look closely around the fittings on the hose at both the tap and nozzle end. Are there any leaks where the fittings and the hose meet or are they well-sealed? If they are leaking, there are a few likely causes that are easily diagnosed:


  • Look inside the fittings, are any of the little lugs bent back? If so, use a small screwdriver to gently tease them back out.


  • Is the hose end cut square? If not use a pair of cutters or a trimming knife to make it so.


  • Look at where the fitting crimps the hose. Was the hose pushed all the way into the fitting?


As you put your fittings back on make sure the lugs don’t get folded over, that the fitting pushes all the way on and that you screw the collar on straight and as tight as you can. Don’t be tempted to use tools, just hold the fitting and collar with a cloth to give you extra grip.


With full water pressure, look for leaks where the fittings connect to the tap and the nozzle. If it’s leaking, look inside your hose fitting to make sure there are no damaged or missing parts. If so, replace the fitting.


Look at the black O-rings on the adaptor fitting screwed onto your tap and tail-end connector on your nozzle or sprinkler. If they appear loose, damaged or perished then replace them. Just use care when removing the old O-ring. Do this check and replace O-rings on all of your nozzles and sprinklers at least once a year.


Selecting watering tools


Your hose-end nozzles and sprinklers are your watering tools. There are a few things to consider when selecting:


  • Turn trigger guns off between plants.Turn trigger guns off between plants.Make sure hand-held nozzles have a trigger-off function or that they can otherwise be closed completely.


  • If you have an old favourite hand-held nozzle without an off function, you can get hose-end fittings with a mini on/off valve built-in.


  • If you have a lot of pots or hanging baskets, or if you plan to hand-water garden shrubs, look at investing in a long-handled watering tool.


  • Avoid using mist settings anywhere except in a greenhouse or with seedlings as it tends to lead to a lot of water wastage.


  • For general watering, use a setting with large droplet sizes as these tend to be more efficient and reduce wastage.


  • For broad area sprinklers, such as for the lawn, select a sprinkler that has an adjustable pattern and throw so you can set it to avoid watering pathways and other hard surfaces. Make sure it has a large droplet size too.


Watering in the morning

Watering at the end of the day, especially in hot and dry weather, may seem like the best idea but it can be inefficient and problematic. Hot soil or garden areas, even lawns, are less able to absorb water. This means you’ll lose water to run-off.


Some water will also be lost to evaporation caused by the combination of hot soil and mulch, and the air temperature. As it evaporates it increases the humidity around plants. Having plants sitting in a warm, humid environment overnight allows a host of fungal disorders to take hold.


Watering early in the morning will see plants and soil more able to take up moisture, replenishing and charging themselves up for the day ahead.


Watering well and wisely


The objective when watering is to get the right level of water to our plants, but all too often we spread an awful lot of water between our plants. To ensure your watering has maximum impact, make sure water is falling where the roots are. With most plants the largest concentration of roots that are seeking water will be around what’s called the drip-zone. This is the area below the edge of the foliage canopy where water falling as rain would naturally run down to. Of course this isn’t applicable for each and every plant in your garden. Some strappy-leaved plants, such as agapanthus, clivia and bromeliads, will channel water down their leaves, back towards the core of the plant. To be efficient with your watering it pays to know a little about the plants themselves.


Water you garden well and wisely by following these tips:


Basic tap timers are an easy way to manage water use.Basic tap timers are an easy way to manage water use.

  • Target water by hand rather than taking the approach of blanket watering by sprinkler. Lawns are an exception.


  • Fit a basic mechanical tap timer to your tap and use it when hand-watering or running sprinklers. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t over-water or forget and leave the hose running.


  • Apply water around the area that best suits the plants. This may be their drip-zone or directly to the plant core. If in doubt water evenly over the plant and water will find its way to the right places.


  • Water slower, for longer. Having a quick whip around the garden running on full bore does little for your plants. Water will be unevenly distributed and unlikely to penetrate soil or mulch. Take the time to water each plant in the best way for that plant. Develop the habit of counting slowly to 20 or 30 when watering each plant.


  • Water your plants, not all the areas in-between.


  • Go around twice. The first watering may not soak in as well as you want. To get the best water penetration, go around the garden once then start at the beginning again for a second application.


A sprinkler with adjustable throw makes watering more efficient.A sprinkler with adjustable throw makes watering more efficient.

  • When using sprinklers, set the pattern or adjust the flow to get best coverage with minimum wastage that can result from overspray onto hard surfaces.


  • Use sprinklers on lower pressure over smaller areas and move them around, ensuring you get all sides of plants to avoid dry spots and underwatering.


  • Don’t run sprinklers on windy days or turn them on so hard that the output mists.


  • Always be aware of and stick to any local water restrictions.


Improving water efficiency


One of the most important parts of watering is making sure that wastage is avoided and water is targeted to the right areas. The tips above will help with how you deliver water to your plants and garden but how do you keep the water where you want it?


Mulch is a key part of watering well.Mulch is a key part of watering well.

  • Feed your soil, not just your plants. Regular applications of biostimulants such as seaweed tonic and pro-biotic additives, whether they be commercial liquids or your own worm or compost tea, will improve the soil biome leading to improvements in soil quality. This improves the penetration of water and retention of moisture in the soil.


  • If your soil doesn’t seem to absorb water, apply a soil wetting product at the recommended intervals. These products, available in granular, liquid concentrate or hose-on form, will dramatically improve water penetration.


  • Mulch your gardens and mulch-mow your lawn. Mulch helps retain moisture and also slows water movement, reducing runoff and increasing penetration. As it breaks down, it will feed the soil, naturally improving it. In garden areas always water before and after applying mulch.


Getting the most from your garden hose


For more tips, check out Getting the most from your garden hose.



Sponsored Post

Why join the Bunnings Workshop community?

Workshop is a friendly place to learn, get ideas and find inspiration for your home improvement projects