Drip irrigation typically is the best method for plant watering. This includes watering windowsill containers as well as for plants in the ground. It usually is a bit more complicated than other methods, but it typically is much better for soil health than any other form of plant watering.
Instead of using a sprinkler to spread water over plants, drip watering is done via a plastic tube with holes in it. The tube is hooked up to a water source and is placed either on the ground or under the surface, usually near the roots of the plant. A major benefit of drip irrigation is that fertilizers or fungicides can be put into the water source and then be administered directly into the soil.
There are a number of problems that usually are associated with sprinklers or watering cans. During the hot months, a lot of water can be lost through evaporation, even if watering is done at night. Because drip irrigation takes place under the surface or directly on the ground, evaporation usually is not considered to be much of a problem. Additionally, if the soil is not healthy, water usually will not drain well unless drip irrigation is used. By eliminating these factors, a grower generally can be sure that they are delivering a consistent amount of water to plants without wasting a single drop.
Although setting up a drip irrigation system typically can be relatively expensive to install, the investment usually will pay dividends both in time saved and in soil health. Unless mulching an entire garden, sprinklers eventually will compact the upper layer of soil. This usually will adversely affect drainage in the long run.
If there are tight rows of plants that need differing amounts of water, it can be hard to balance watering amounts with a sprinkler system. With drip irrigation it can be easy to even things out. The irrigation system usually can be controlled by individual row if need be.
Smaller drip irrigation systems can be hooked directly to a water source if being used for small container gardens, such as on a porch. Plant watering becomes as easy as turning a knob. The time saved from switching to a drip system quickly can add up. An enormous amount of back strain can be saved as well by not having to bend over to water every single plant.