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Environmental Horticulture (Gardening)


Adequate soil moisture is essential for good crop growth. A healthy plant is composed of 75-90% water, which is used for the plant's vital functions, including photosynthesis, support (rigidity), and transportation of nutrients and sugars to various parts of the plant.

There are several options for applying water to plants. These include:

  • watering can,
  • garden hose with a fan nozzle or spray attachment for containers, small gardens or individual plants
  • portable lawn sprinklers,
  • perforated plastic soaker hose,
  • drip or trickle irrigation, or a semi-automatic drip system for lawns and gardens.

Your careful use of irrigation techniques will help local streams and will ultimately benefit larger bodies of water in your surrounding area by reducing fertilizer and pesticide run-off and by conserving water.

Consider the benefits of drip irrigation!

Some Basic Techniques and Principles for Watering:

Adjust the flow or rate of water application to about one-half inch per hour to avoid causing run-off. To determine the rate for a sprinkler, place small tin cans at various places within the sprinkler's reach, and check the level of water in the cans at 15-minute intervals.

When using the oscillating type of lawn sprinkler, place the sprinkler on a platform higher than the crop to prevent water from being diverted by plant leaves. Try to keep the watering pattern even by frequently moving the sprinkler and overlapping about one half of each pattern.

Do not sprinkle foliage in the evening. Wet foliage overnight may encourage disease. Morning watering is preferred.

Perforated plastic hoses or soaker hoses should be placed with holes down (if there are holes), along one side of the crop row or underneath mulch. Water will slowly soak into the soil.

Frequent, light watering will only encourage shallow rooting, causing plants to suffer more quickly during drought periods, especially if mulches are not used. On the other hand, too much water, especially in poorly drained soils, can be as damaging to plant growth as too little water.

Your lawn can use an inch or more of water per week in hot, dry weather. The lawn should be watered when the soil begins to dry out, but before the grass actually wilts. Loss of resilience can be observed; footprints will make a long-lasting imprint instead of bouncing right back.

Critical Watering Periods For Selected Vegetables


Spear production, fern development

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower

Head development

Beans, Peas

Pod filling


Seed emergence, root development


Silking, tasseling, ear development

Eggplant, Tomato

Flowering, fruiting

Cucumber, Melon

Flowering, fruit development


Head development; moisture should be constant