Small Space Gardening
Water from the top

Small space gardening includes that task of ensuring our plants are watered when they are thirsty and need that wet moisture boost. Is there a proper method of watering that will be both efficient and protective of a precious natural resource? Let’s take a look.

Hand Watering

We can hand water our gardens. With larger gardens such as our in-the-ground garden and possibly our raised bed garden, we can run out the garden hose and apply water directly to our plants.

We can do this through an over spray or by holding the hose over our plants and directing the water flow directly to our plants. Hand watering will eliminate some waste since we have complete control over where to direct the water. However, there will naturally be some waste since the soil will begin to dry as a result of evaporation before all the moisture can reach the roots.

The primary disadvantage is that we, the gardener, must supply the hand and that takes time.

Oscillating Sprinklers

We can set our sprinkling system to reach our gardens, but controlling the placement of the water is not as easy as with a handheld method. We may not be able to reach our raised bed vegetable gardens and we may also be watering areas that we don’t want watered, such as paths and walkways. Sprinklers may also be watering areas that have already been harvested and not replanted. Consequently we have lost precious water to evaporation and to wind drift.

Drip Irrigation

Small space gardening can also include drip irrigation as a means of delivering water to our plants. This allows us to connect our drip water delivery lines directly to our water supply and place “emitters” at specific plant locations. The system can be connected to a timer providing low pressure water output at the desired time.

Unfortunately, timers don’t seem to have a means of telling whether the ground is wet from recent rains and will continue to perform their assigned task at the assigned time. This could result in saturation of the roots and potentially lead to disease and rot.

These systems can require a large amount of time and a large financial commitment but are convenient and can conserve water. Drip irrigation would be a great way to get convenient watering to our raised bed vegetable gardens.


The above watering systems work well in our small space gardening scheme, especially if we are doing in-the-ground gardening or raised bed vegetable gardening. However, these methods may not prove to be the most efficient method for our container gardening design.

For ways to provide water to our plant containers in our small space gardening, take a look at Small Space Gardening – Water from the Bottom.

Whatever our watering method is, hand held, oscillating sprinklers, or drip irrigation, we need to keep in mind what type of soil is in our garden area. With sandy soil, the water will go straight down to the root bed. With clay soil, water will tend to spread out horizontally and then be absorbed vertically.

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