square foot garden watering

Garden Watering System

How will you be watering your new garden? That’s a question you should be thinking of early in the process. Setting up a watering system is easier when you start you garden vs in the middle of growing season. A watering system isn’t necessary, but it certainly can make your life easier. You can choose to hand-water your plants; however, you need a backup plan if you’re away for more than a day or two. 

Inverted water bottles can be helpful and easy to set up, especially if you have pots; however, even that might not be enough if you, or someone else, isn’t available to fill those bottles up regularly. For planters, that might be harder to achieve as you’ll need many bottles to ensure all your plants get the water they need. Filling them up constantly could be time consuming. In my opinion, an automatic watering system is a great way to ensure that your plants will get enough water whether you’re around or not. Here is how we set up our system.


  • rain barrel
  • timer
  • two-way hose splitter
  • small garden hose 
  • 1/2 inch black drip hose
  • various angle and t-couplers
  • drippers
  • hose end caps 
  • ground stakes (to keep the hose in place)

Step one was to have the rain barrel installed. It doesn’t have to be a rain barrel – you can get creative with what you have. We purchased this rain barrel (at a great discount!) at a composting work shop – the company selling them retrofits them from imported olive barrels (great way to upcycle!). We just painted ours with gray spray paint. The rain barrel collects water in it from gutters when it rains. When it doesn’t (which is the case now, and it’ll be for a while here in SoCal), we fill it up with a hose. 

A two-way hose splitter connects to the hose spigot already fitted on the barrel. From there, a small garden hose connects to a timer. The timer can be set up at a certain time each day to open up the valve that allows for the water to flow through the hoses. The drip hoses follow next, cut into necessary lengths to cover the whole planter space. For angles, we used various couplers. At the end of each dripper hose, we attached caps. We made openings for drippers in each square and that’s where the water flows into the planter box. Both our boxes have the same watering system. 

The water flow goes like this: barrel -> hose spigot -> hose splitter -> garden hose -> timer -> drip hoses -> planter box. The flow happens daily at a set time and it’s automatic. It works great overall. Sometimes we use a hose in the evenings, mostly on really hot days, to supplement water for our plants. 

We’re using the inverted water bottles currently with our seven potted plants as we haven’t figured out an automatic watering system here just yet. We’re trying to address that and hopefully get something in place soon. 

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