Watering Your Plants While You’re Away


Summer has been a scorcher this year in St. Louis. With the excessive heat and little rain, it’s even more important than usual to frequently water your garden.

That’s easy enough when you’re at home and able to turn on the hose for your plants every day, but what about when you’re leaving town for a summer vacation? You can always ask a friend or neighbor to stop by while you are away and water your garden, but if you’re looking for a less intrusive option, you could consider an irrigation system. 

Photo by Claire Cohen

Previously available only to landscape professionals, automated-watering systems are now sold at most mass-market home improvement stores. These devices are easy to set up and can be controlled from your phone or programmed to turn on and off at specific times.  

Irrigation systems can range from simple 25-foot drip lines (also known as soaker hoses) to expansive computer-controlled sprinkler systems. Every irrigation method has its pros and cons. Think about your gardening needs before deciding what’s best for you.

Sprinklers are popular because of their ease of use, but they can be wasteful.  More water is lost to runoff and evaporation compared to drip lines. Watering the leaves of the plants can also encourage disease.

Drip lines water plants through tubes running from a water source straight to the plant’s roots, so they waste less water than sprinklers. You can find more information about the benefits of drip irrigation here. Some of the most notable perks can be faster plant growth, less disease, and fewer weeds. The slope of your garden should be taken into consideration when setting up a drip line, as water does eventually flow downhill.

For more information about watering your garden, you can visit the Missouri Botanical Garden’s frequently asked gardening questions pageYou can also find seasonal gardening tips, a monthly calendar of gardening tasks, and other helpful advice, on the Kemper Center’s Gardening Help page.


Catherine Martin
Public Information Officer

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