Plants are approximately 90% water and therefore it is essential that they get enough water to survive. Gardening is all about balance and that applies to the amount of water your plants need to stay healthy. Over watering can be as harmful as not giving them enough water.
The soil that the plants are growing in is a big factor in the amount of water that you should be giving them. If the soil is heavy and doesn’t drain well you will need to give them less water or they could get water logged and the roots can rot (and you should consider ways to improve drainage). If the soil is a lot freer draining then you might need to water a little more often.
Too much water can reduce the plants ability to draw oxygen and nutrients from the soil and this is as essential to their growth as the water is. Overwatering will suffocate the roots and the plant will die.
Gentle watering is better than heavy watering with a hose as the higher pressure of the hose can cause the soil to turn to mud. Once the soil dries out again it will become solidified. This compacting of the soil after heavy watering makes it more difficult for the plants to grow.
Soakers are a good and economical method of watering provided the flow of water is not too great. Soakers save water, slowly seeping water into the root zone while keeping plant leaves dry, and reduces water loss through evaporation.
Soaker hoses are also known as dew hoses and can be made of canvas, various types of of plastic or rubber. Some are more flexible than others and is a consideration when you need to weave in and out between plants. Hoses made of plastic can be hard to lay flat or bend around corners. Plastic and rubber soakers are resistant to fungal attack, so you can leave them laying out for longer periods of time with deterioration. Canvas hoses, although more eco-friendly, should be drained and dried after each use.
Soakers are also excellent when using a timed irrigation system so that the plants get sufficient water when you are away and particularly in the hotter months of the year when the soil tends to dry out more often.
If you are using timed irrigation you will need to adjust the timing and the flow of water according to the seasons and always make changes when there have been unseasonal changes to the weather that will require extra care for the plants.
Remember, the object of watering is to spread the water uniformly through the area being irriated. Each time you water, you need to run the system long enough for the water to seep through the soil. Frequent short waterings will lead your plants to having tightly bunched root systems. It is better to water less frequently but for longer periods, to encourage the plant roots to spread evenly and down through the soil.
Once again, plants need the human touch to maintain that balance.