The environmentally responsible gardener - A short guide to watering methods

Arrosage manuel © Jardin botanique de Montréal (Jean-Pierre Parent)
The environmentally responsible gardener - A short guide to watering methods

For an environmentally responsible gardener, the choice of an effective watering method is supremely important. Water’s a precious natural resource, to be consumed in great moderation whatever the circumstances. During the summer season, the various outdoor activities we indulge in can double our consumption of water. A good part of that increase is attributable to the irrigation of lawns and gardens. It’s therefore essential to improve our watering techniques, especially when we take into account that the water being used this way is drinkable water, which has been treated.

Some advice:

1. Minimize your water needs

You can reduce those needs by taking the following steps:

  • Group your plants together according to their water needs. That way you won’t be obliged to irrigate your whole garden to make sure that the thirstier plants are getting enough;
  • Improve the soil’s water retention capabilities by adding compost when planting;
  • Use organic mulches to keep the soil cool and damp;
  • Opt for planting in open ground, rather than in containers;
  • Avoid planting near foundations and fences, as those spots don’t receive much water.

2. Improve your watering techniques

To lower your water consumption, choose the best watering techniques.

Sprinkler watering

The use of one or more sprinklers (static, rotary, oscillating or impulse) presents a number of disadvantages:

  • As much as 70 percent of the water is lost through evaporation;
  • It promotes the development of fungal diseases when done in the evening;
  • It isn’t well suited to small gardens (some plants may receive too much water);
  • It leads to compacting of surface soil.

This method should be reserved for watering big surfaces (putting in a lawn, or spring sowing in a large garden). Adjust water flow and sprinkler position so as to avoid runoff.

Manual watering through a hose

This method requires a lot of time, but is accessible and economical. It also allows for targeted watering, wherever there’s a need. It’s important to water the soil directly and not the plants. Avoid the formation of pools and runoff. To reduce the workload, spread the watering over several days, spraying one section of the garden at a time.


This is one of the best watering methods for optimal use of water, which is released to the soil only where necessary. Irrigation takes place gently, without compacting the soil; water loss through evaporation is limited; and plant foliage does not get wet, reducing the risks of fungal diseases. Analyze the needs of your garden carefully, and after making some adjustments, go for the most suitable method. And don’t forget that, here too, (water) moderation tastes better (for the planet)!

» For more advice

Have any questions relating to this blog?
Consult our Green Pages or visit the Jardin botanique’s horticultural information counter for personalized service. One of our experts will be pleased to provide you with more information..

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