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  • Writer's picturekelly

Irrigation for small gardens - maximising growth and protecting your investment.

Updated: Feb 8

Humans have developed automated mechanisms to water plants and crops since the 6th millennium BC (and most likely earlier!). The earliest form of irrigation likely involved people carrying buckets of water from wells or rivers to pour on their crops, which they must have quickly understood is time-consuming, laborious and inefficient!

These days, we might have taps and garden hoses installed in our backyards, but in our modern-day context, watering this way is as time-consuming, laborious and inefficient as ancient buckets!

Your garden is an investment of time and money, and the irrigation system is about protecting that investment and ensuring you get the best outcome.

A good irrigation system in a small garden promotes water efficiency, saves time, ensures consistent plant growth, and provides the flexibility to meet the specific needs of different plants, contributing to a healthy and thriving garden. We have not yet had a client who has regretted putting in irrigation, but we can't say the same for the opposite!

A well irrigated balcony garden in auckland
A well-irrigated garden will reward you with lush growth!

Why should I install an irrigation system in my small garden?

There are three main reasons why we strongly recommend including an irrigation system in your garden:

Efficient Water Distribution:

One of the primary advantages of installing an irrigation system in a small garden is the efficient water distribution. Traditional watering methods, such as using a hose or watering can, can lead to uneven water distribution, resulting in some plants receiving too much water while others are left thirsty. An irrigation system equipped with drip emitters or soaker hoses ensures a consistent and controlled flow of water directly to the roots of each plant, promoting optimal growth.

Optimal Plant Health:

Consistent and appropriate watering is crucial for the health of plants. An irrigation system provides a controlled environment that helps prevent underwater and overwatering, reducing the risk of stress, diseases, and nutrient deficiencies. Healthy plants are more resilient, better equipped to withstand environmental challenges, and are more likely to produce vibrant blooms or bountiful harvests.

Time-Saving Convenience:

In our busy lives, time is a precious commodity. Watering even a small garden manually can be time-consuming, and it's easy to forget or neglect this crucial task. An irrigation system allows for automated and scheduled watering, reducing the time and effort required to maintain your garden. With programmable timers, you can set specific watering intervals, ensuring that your plants receive the right amount of moisture without constant supervision.

Irrigation on a small balcony garden in Auckland
In this pot installation, we drilled holes and installed the irrigation tubes prior to planting.

What types of irrigation systems do you recommend?

Best irrigation for small gardens
A good quality soaker hose can be shaped to fit around plants and hidden at the time of installation.

There are two main types of irrigation we use on our projects:

Drip Irrigation - recommended for pots

Drip irrigation is a highly efficient method that delivers water directly to the base of each plant, minimising water wastage.  We highly recommend this type of irrigation for pot installations as the water is delivered precisely and exactly where it is needed, ensuring the longevity of your plants.

It's important to note that potted plants can dry out VERY quickly in the summer due to the reduced soil volume and will need watering much more frequently than a large garden bed.

Soaker Hoses - recommended for garden beds

Soaker hoses are porous hoses that release water along their length, providing a slow, even soak to the soil. They are easy to install and are laid out in specific patterns to match the layout of your garden beds. We highly recommend purchasing good-quality flexible hoses, as the cheaper options frequently crack and need replacing more often.

We highly recommend making the decision to install irrigation at the beginning of your project, as it will be much easier to install in the right place and hide the material.

How much will installing an irrigation system in a small garden cost?*

The set-up costs (including labour and materials) 

Small spaces - $800-$1,500

Large yards (multiple zones) $2,000 - $3,500

Small gardens can thrive with the right care and attention, and installing an irrigation system is a key step towards achieving this goal. From efficient water distribution and time-saving convenience to water conservation and optimal plant health, the benefits of irrigation systems in small gardens are abundant.

Our designers specialise in urban gardens, terraced housing, balconies, and decks. If you are considering transforming your outdoor space, don't hesitate to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.

*Please note that costs are approximate at the time of publication and will vary from project to project.

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