Watering seed requires a multi-pronged approach, as no one method will get the job done for all situations. In a simple container garden, a basic watering can be used for watering seed and plants. In larger gardens or lawns, however, the most effective watering techniques often incorporate irrigation systems, and invariably stray away from the patchy success of manually spraying a watering hose over the ground.
Used properly, water irrigation systems are a great addition to any garden, and help conserve water by cutting back on watering time and better directing water towards its intended destination. There are two primary systems for watering seed by irrigation: sprinkler irrigation systems and drip irrigation systems. These two systems often work well when used together.
One advantage of sprinkler systems is that they can often be set to run automatically, with duration and frequency of watering cycles decided by the gardener. When a cycle begins, sprinkler heads pop up out of the ground and spray pressurized water over the garden. The amount and length of watering sessions should depend upon the needs of the garden, as certain seeds require more water than others. Another advantage of sprinklers is that they can strategically be placed so as to achieve complete zone coverage. There are numerous types of sprinkler heads; some remain fixed in one direction, while others rotate to hit a larger area.
Many sprinkler systems overshoot their mark or miss it entirely, either due to sprinkler heads being improperly placed or because the garden is simply too small to accommodate them. Another drawback is that, even in a well-placed formation, not all of the water shot from a sprinkler head will successfully end up watering seed, due to some evaporation before the water reaches the ground. Windy conditions can also make it more difficult for sprinklers to hit their mark. This is why it's often wise to combine sprinklers with the other major irrigating technique for watering seed — drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation involves running water tubes along seed lines. These tubes emit water by dripping or bubbling the liquid straight into the soil, so that the roots of a seed are directly impacted. Like sprinkler systems, drip systems can often be calibrated to cycle automatically.
By xeriscaping, one may even further improve the efficiency of his or her watering techniques. Xeriscape gardening derives from the philosophy of conserving as much water as possible by selecting region-specific plants able to flourish on minimal amounts of water. Xeriscape gardens not only help save water, but can greatly increase the success of a drip line or other plant watering method.
There are many places to obtaining watering equipment. Local gardening shops should be able to help a gardener locate and decide on the most useful watering supplies. Large home improvement retailers are also good venues to shop for watering systems. These also tend to be places where one may find local how-to gardening classes. There are also many gardening resources on the Internet with innovative ideas for watering seed.