How to water your garden containers

We share our top tips for watering your peat-free garden containers this summer


Watering your garden containers should be a simple operation. But as any gardener knows, a surprising number of difficulties can be encountered. It’s useful to remember that rainfall, however strong, rarely is enough to effectively water containers. In other words, don’t assume that you don’t need to water just because it rained.

The successful watering of any compost, whether peat-free or peat-based, is about making sure that the water you’re adding is staying within the pot rather than simply running out of the bottom.

If the compost is dry you will find that water runs through and out of the bottom and very little wetting has been achieved. If you water too much, the compost can be well-wetted but you will have leached away precious nutrients in the process.


SylvaGrow Melcourt watering tips for containers

Six tips for watering your garden containers

  1. Firstly, try to keep the compost evenly moist at all times – not drenched but not too dry. The turgidity of the plants can help to inform what ‘too dry’ looks like. In this way you can add regular amounts of water (or liquid feed) and know that nothing is being wasted.
  2. Use the weight of the container to check dryness. Even large containers can be lightly lifted and this gives a good indication of dryness. Learn the expected feel of your pots and containers. When they are nicely moist and use this to gauge the watering needs.
  3. Lots of water running out of the base of the pot, when the compost is already drenched, simply leaches away nutrients. Composts have a maximum water-holding capacity and once this is reached, no amount of further watering will matter.
  4. Do your watering in two stages. Lightly water the surface and leave for a few minutes – even half an hour. When you return the compost will be in a much better state to take the water in.
  5. You could try plunging the whole container in a bucket of water for half-an-hour to get it thoroughly rewetted.
  6. If the two-stage watering or plunging methods doesn’t work, add a few drops of washing up liquid to your watering can. This will help break down the water-repellence of the dry compost and get you back on track with regular, efficient watering.

And remember, even the best of gardeners find they have over-dry containers from time to time – you are not alone!