Twelve little hoses let you focus your watering efforts. The nozzles can be aimed to water plants that need a drink and avoid those that don’t.
While I consider the swish of an overhead sprinkler the signature sound of summer, I’ve come to realize that literally every drop of water counts, so I try to use it with care. And for the needs of a garden bed, an overhead sprinkler is just not the ideal way to go. That’s not to say it doesn’t work. It’s fine for a lawn, where broad areas share an almost identical thirst.
The trouble starts with mixed plantings, where varied water needs can’t be met by a “one size fits all” approach. And that’s what overhead sprinklers provide: equal-opportunity irrigation that delivers as much water to parched plants as to sidewalks, pathways, and plants that aren’t even slightly thirsty. Worse, artificial rain soaks the foliage of every plant it touches. Some of that water is rapidly lost to evaporation, but the rest might act like mini magnifying glasses, focusing the sun’s rays enough to burn spots in the leaves. Worse yet, damp foliage creates the perfect environment for fungal diseases such as mildew and rust.
One of my main gardening aims is to welcome Darwinism into my garden, letting natural selection play a role in its design. I don’t coddle plants and prefer those that thrive with no more water than nature provides. So I limit watering to new plantings while they are getting established, to plants in containers, and to small populations of especially thirsty plants, such as hydrangeas.
I’ve experimented with different watering gizmos, studied how plants use water, and adapted the best practices to my landscape. I’ve found three commonly available accessories that deliver water efficiently without a lot of time and effort: the Noodlehead sprinkler, a watering wand, and a soaker-hose ring.