Self-watering planter boxes can grow flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Outdoor Planter Box Watering Devices

by Benjamin Shorter

If you do not have the luxury of a backyard garden or a community plot, you can still grow vegetables, herbs and flowers at home. Using planter boxes limits the number of items you can grow, but they can also be easily fitted onto balconies or patios. Using a planter box is also a convenient strategy for busy moms who want to garden but without the hassles of equipment.

Timed Irrigation System

Using a timer-run, drip irrigation system is an efficient method of ensuring your plants receive enough water, particularly during the heat of mid-summer, when planter boxes can dry out very quickly. A drip irrigation system connected to a timer can ensure you water your plants regularly, and at the optimal times. Watering early in the morning and just at dusk will ensure your plants receive as much irrigation as they require. Check the system regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Drip Irrigation Benefits

A low-pressure irrigation system, also known as a drip irrigation system is recommended for planter box gardens. You can purchase a full kit with or without a timer at many garden and home supply centers. The kit will commonly contain a pressure regulator, a backflow preventer, a filter and a variety of tubing and feeder lines that will let you choose between different forms of irrigation, from bubbles to sprays. You can purchase the timer separately to install it to your kit or you can purchase a kit with an included timer.

Self-Watering Planters

Self-watering planters now come in a range of sizes, and you can grow everything from tomatoes and snap peas to small patio herbs. Self-watering planters sit the plants, their roots and the potting soil over a reservoir that can be filled externally through a tube. A wick running from the reservoir to the soil keeps the soil hydrated as the soil absorbs water from the reservoir whenever the water levels are too low. Build your own self-watering planter or choose from a varied selection at home and garden centers.

Pros and Cons

Self-watering containers can be quite convenient, but you will need to check water levels on a regular basis, particularly during heat waves. When the reservoir becomes empty, the soil will still dry out and stress your plants. The benefit of self-watering containers is that they can be moved after the plants have been established, so that optimum growing conditions are achieved. Because of their bottom up irrigation style, self-watering containers reduce the likelihood of fungal and bacterial diseases from establishing as there is no water left standing on the foliage. This is especially beneficial for tender plants, such as tomatoes, that are susceptible to fungal infections.

About the Author

Benjamin Shorter has been a writer for publications such as the "New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal," "National Post" and the "Edmonton Journal" since 2001. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from McGill University, a Master of Arts in history from Central European University and a diploma in journalism from Concordia University.

Photo Credits

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