Last updated on May 2nd, 2021
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Do you think that all the time you spend watering your plants can be better spent? An automatic watering system would free you up to relax on your patio more. No more having to remember the last time you watered your garden plants in pots, beds and borders. And you can go on holiday knowing that your plants won’t dry out and shrivel up.
In this Best Automatic Watering Systems review, we take a look at four different garden watering systems and two timers so it can be totally automated. Not all watering system kits come with a timer, and if you’re building a DIY system, you definitely need to purchase your own. In our review, we look specifically at ready-made drip watering systems. In the Buyer’s Guide, we present some information about the features of the best automatic drip irrigation systems so you can make an informed decision about which one to buy.
We have two Best Picks in this review
The Best Pick for an automatic watering system for watering pots is the Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering with AC1 Timer. This garden system waters up to 20 hanging baskets, planters, pots and really any small container you have your plants in. The kit comes with a timer. You can’t also get a 15 or 25 pots version too.
Our Best Pick for watering borders and beds is the Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders. This Hozelock model looks after up to 10m2 of beds and borders but you can collect several together to increase its watering area. This model doesn’t come with a timer so if you want to totally automate it you will need to purchase a timer which is where our runner-up comes in below.
Our Runner-up is the Orbit 94148 ‘Buddy II’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer. This is for those of you who want to build a custom watering system or buy a kit without a timer. The Buddy II timer has a large clearly marked dial and screen and has two outlets to hook up two watering systems or hoses at once.
Best Pick for Watering Pots
Best Pick for Borders and Beds
6 Best automatic watering systems are listed below
- Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering with AC1 Timer
- Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders
- GARDENA Starter Set Flower Pots M: The Micro-Drip System Starter Set for seven potted plants and three plant troughs
- Jeteven Micro Drip Irrigation Kit, 40M, DIY Plant Watering Kit
- Orbit 96781 ‘Buddy HF’ Single-Port Digital Tap Timer
- Orbit 96782 ‘Buddy II HF’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer
Best Automatic Watering Systems reviews
1. Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering with AC1 Timer
Best Pick for Watering Pots and hanging baskets
The Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering system with its AC1 Timer included will keep the plants in your pots, containers, greenhouse and vegetable beds well watered. This watering system allows you to water up to 20 pots and hanging baskets at one time. If most of your plants are in containers, perhaps on a balcony or in a small garden, you can automatically water them all at once.
This watering system has a 15-meter hose to reach quite a few containers. The hose is 4mm wide inside so it should work with most water pressures. Included in the setup, you also get a pressure reducer and two tap adapters. The dripping rate is 4 Litres per hour so most will need to water between 30-60 minutes to water there pots and containers adequately but it also depends on the size of the pots as well as water retentive your compost is.
Cut the flexible hose to the length to fit your arrangement of plant containers. The hose carries water out to the drippers you set along it at your chosen positions which are also super easy to attach. Twenty pressure-compensating drippers come with this irrigation system. If your water pressure is low, you may need to put two drippers in each pot or simply water for a little longer. You can also try removing the water pressure reducer. Just something to keep in mind.
The AC1 Timer with the Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering System runs on two “C” type batteries. Buy regular batteries as this product can’t take rechargeable ones. Online users report that the timer eats up battery power and the batteries don’t last as long as you think they will. With this in mind, we recommend using good branded batteries like Duracell and not cheaper alternatives.
The included electronic timer offers a range of timing options for watering from once a week to four times per day. Reviewers of this product state that the instructions need to explain more about how to use the timer and to set up the drippers in the correct way. If you want to water your plant pots immediately, use the manual button to override (but not delete) the programming. This timer is fairly basic, more of an entry-level model but it does the job to get you up and running but you may want to consider an upgrade in the future.
- Waters hanging baskets, patio pots, greenhouse plants and vegetable gardens, anything in pots.
- Set up this kit in minutes and water your plants straight away.
- Hose (15m by 4mm) is flexible so you can cut it to suit your arrangement of pots and containers.
- The timer is powered by two “C” type batteries (not included) so you don’t have to connect anything to the mains.
- Waters up to 20 pots and baskets at one time so you needn’t go from one to another to check whether their soil is dry.
- The timer is electronic and provides a variety of watering periods to suit all your plants.
- Drip watering ensures that the water reaches the roots of your plants where it’s needed.
- Add-on components make this system suitable for large areas such as your lawn.
- Set-up instructions could be better.
The Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering system with the included AC1 Timer lets you water 20 plant pots/containers/hanging baskets/etc at once.
Set the automatic timer for the days you want the plants to be watered and sit back. You can add more hoses to the 15m hose if your plants are spaced across your patio or garden. Adding extra components also makes this system suitable for large areas such as lawns.
We’ve made the Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering system with its AC1 Timer our Best Pick of automatic watering systems for pots.
Of all the watering systems reviewed here, this is the one for you if you grow many of your plants or herbs in containers or have a large selection of hanging baskets to water.
Read next: Best greenhouse watering systems
Read next: Best watering systems for raised garden beds
2. Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders
Best Pick for Watering Borders and Beds
The Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders, like the Hozelock watering system for pots, is designed for specialized areas. The plants in your beds and borders will never dry out once you’ve installed this system. This is a good alternative to using a soaker hose.
This Hozelock system is suitable for up to 10 m2 of garden borders and beds. The flexi hose is 15m long but you can cut it down to whatever size you need. If your growing spaces are larger than 10 m2, connect two or more of the watering systems together to cover more space. But make sure that the water pressure in your outside tap can handle the increased length of hose. Alternatively, divide the water system into two systems and have a water timer with a double outlet port so you can water each area separately one after the other.
Everything you need is supplied in this kit, including 10 drippers. The drippers can water up to 100cm around them so you can water several plants from one dripper. Its recommended that you don’t place more than 10 drippers (can buy these separately) per 15m of hose.
A timer is not included with this system. To make it an automatic watering system you must purchase a timer yourself. This does give you the freedom to choose the timer from any brand that best suits your watering needs.
- Drip watering system so water doesn’t evaporate before it reaches your plants.
- Waters beds, borders and vegetable gardens of less than 10m2 area for optimal growth of your plants.
- Set-up is easy and takes only about 15 minutes of your time.
- Flexi hose is 15m long and can be cut to size.
- Works with any water controller/timer to make it an automatic watering system.
- Connect kits together if you want to water more than 10 m2 of plants.
- Included in the kit are 10 drippers that can water up to 100cm around them for extensive coverage of your beds.
- Warranty is for two years.
- Doesn’t come with a timer.
The Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders can water up to 10m2 of beds and borders. Purchase additional kits to increase this area to perhaps the size of your garden. However, as its name suggests, this drip irrigation system doesn’t come with a timer; you need to purchase your own separately which adds to the expense. However, you can choose a timer from any brand and get the feature or number of ports you need.
The Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders is our Best Pick for Watering Beds and Borders. Being able to water extended areas by adding other hoses is a plus if you want to drip irrigate large flowerbeds.
It’s worth looking at this watering system if you want a separate hose system for your beds and borders than for the rest of your garden. Just remember to buy a timer as well or you will need to manually turn the tap on every time you need to water.
Read next: Best home greenhouses
3. GARDENA Starter Set Flower Pots M: The Micro-Drip System Starter Set for seven potted plants and three plant troughs
The GARDENA Starter Set Flower Pots M: The Micro-Drip System Starter Set straddles two growing situations: growing plants in pots and in troughs. If you have a variety of containers in which you grow your plants and herbs, this Gardena system delivers just the right amount of water to each.
This micro-drip system starter kit waters seven pots and three troughs (rectangular planters). It does this through seven adjustable endline drip heads and nine inline drip heads. Put each of the endline drips heads into each pot and put three of the inline drip heads into each planter. The endline drippers let water through at up to 10 Litres per hour; the inline drippers operate at 2 L per hour. A significant feature of this GARDENA watering system is that you can adjust the flow of water through each dripper. Set each dripper to the water needs of the plant in those containers, even if they’re all different. This system is more much premium than the cheaper Hozelock and similar alternatives.
The flexi pipe is 15 meters long that’s standard, but its 13mm in diameter. This is wider than most other hoses and so it lets more water through in a given time.
The timer is included in this starter set which is much better quality than the one included with Hozelock. It lets you plan several watering sessions and has a bunch of features. Water your plants frequently in the height of summer and less often in the autumn. Drip irrigation is not the only method of watering that this irrigation system provides. Buy extra components for spray, soak and micro-misting watering sessions.
- Waters seven pots and three troughs/ rectangular planters to handle your variety of plants.
- Easy to install using patented “Quick and Easy” connection technology so you can be up and running quickly.
- The flexi pipe is 15m long and 13mm wide, which is wider than some other automatic watering systems.
- Configuration can be changed easily and additions added with no hassle.
- Water quantity delivered can be adjusted for plants to give each of them the optimal amount.
- Easy control timer (included) and you can plan several watering sessions per day.
- Runs on a standard nine-volt battery that are easy to find.
- Extras include sprayers, micro-misters and other garden watering equipment.
The GARDENA Starter Set Flower Pots M: The Micro-Drip System Starter Set is one of the most versatile of the products in this review. This system gives you’re the option to grow your various plants in different sized containers and to water them all automatically at the same time.
It also provides the most methods of watering, so you can change drop drip to spray, micro-mist or soak depending on the plants’ conditions. The timer is simple to use and lets you tend to your plants several times a day.
If you have a variety of plants in a variety of containers of different sizes (perhaps in a city garden or on a balcony), the GARDENA Starter Set Flower Pots M: The Micro-Drip System Starter Kit is a great way to start your irrigation system.
4. Jeteven Micro Drip Irrigation Kit, 40M, DIY Plant Watering Kit
The Jeteven 40 Meter Micro Drip Irrigation Kit works well in gardens, pots, courtyards and greenhouses which should cover most of your growing places. It’s called a “DIY” plant watering kit because it doesn’t come with a timer. You’re on your own to purchase that but the overall system is very customisable and very affordable.
The diversity of watering methods that the Jeteven Micro Drip Irrigation Kit has is a big plus point. The hose is 6mm wide and 40m long – that’s 25m longer than with our other reviewed watering systems. As well as 15 drippers, the kit comes with 20 atomizing nozzles and five fountain nozzles. Plus 20 tubing holder stakes. You can use some of each kind spaced along the hose if your outdoor tap’s water pressure allows for it.
Each individual dripper has an adjustable water flow which you can also shut off. You can also adjust the water flow on the two-way connector. The nozzle has columnar and foggy spraying modes. The manufacturer recommends adjusting the drippers nearest the faucet to a light flow and the ones furthest away to a heavy flow. This should even out the dripping along the hose.
If you need several lengths of hose to reach all your growing places, cut the flexible 40m hose down to whatever sizes you need. All in all, this kit has a total of 189 pieces which can be a little daunting.
- Suitable for greenhouses, gardens, pots and courtyards so all your plants will be safe from drying out.
- The hose is 6mm wide and 40m long to go into the furthest reaches of your garden.
- Water flow to each dripper can be adjusted or shut off individually.
- Includes 15 individually adjustable drippers, 20 atomising nozzles and 5 fountain nozzles for a choice of watering modes.
- Cut hose into sections to go to different garden zones you want watering.
- One-year warranty for all parts.
- Doesn’t come with a timer.
The Jeteven Micro Drip Irrigation Kit can supply all the watering needs in your garden and comes with a large array of accessories.
The variety of watering methods – drip, spray and mist- should suit most plants. The 40m long hose gives you extended watering zone capacity. The drippers (20 are supplied) are individually adjustable to deliver just the right amount of water to each type of plant you grow. The DIY part of this system is that, because it lacks a timer, you have to purchase one separately.
If you want to use more than drip irrigation for your plants, the Jeteven Micro Drip Irrigation Kit is a good choice. By mixing and matching the watering attachments, all your different varieties of plants receive the best possible watering. What you can’t beat with this kit is the price, amazing value for money.
5. Orbit 96781 ‘Buddy HF’ Single-Port Digital Tap Timer
If you need to buy a timer for your drip irrigation watering system, the Orbit range of timers are a good choice. The Orbit 96781 ‘Buddy HF’ Single-Port Digital Tap Timer is designed to make it easy to operate – and it works.
The Orbit 96781 timer is single-port, which means that you can only attach one hose to it. It delivers a 20% increase in water flow over other timers which is what the ‘HF’ stands for, high flow. Two AA batteries power this timer and the manufacturer says that they will last for over 84,000 on/off cycles.
Programming this timer is easy. The clear functions on the dial and the large LCD screen are straightforward to use. Your basic watering choices are for the start time, duration of watering and the frequency of watering. Watering frequencies include days of the week or intervals of a number of hours. The watering duration ranges from 1 minute to 360 minutes. While six hours may seem a long time to be watering anything, it’s better to water deeply and less often than shallowly and frequently.
Online reviewers had reported that this Orbit timer is noisy to use. A solution presented by a seller was to remove the small mesh dome filter from the top of the unit, turn it upside down and put it back in. This should reduce the noise as you obviously don’t want to remove the filter.
A useful feature of this timer is the rain delay function. This saves you from wasting water watering when it’s raining. That’s less on your water bill to worry about. If you need to water your plants right now, use the manual watering function on the unit. This doesn’t overwrite the programming but just overrides it for the manual watering period. And the programming also stays there when you change the battery.
- High Flow timer produces a 20% increase in water flow rate over competitive brand of timers.
- The LCD display is digital with an oversized dial so everything is easy to see at a glance.
- The timer has easy to understand instructions on the dial and buttons on the body that makes it simple to operate.
- Watering time selections include days of the week or intervals (e.g. every 6 hours) for flexible watering schedules.
- Choose to water for periods of one minute to six hours depending on the weather and the state of your plants.
- Rain delay feature is from one day to seven days so you don’t waste water by using your irrigation system in the rain.
- Override, but not overwrite, the programming to manually turn your irrigation system on immediately.
- Water-resistant construction makes it safe to leave the timer out in all weathers.
- Needs two AA batteries, we recommend buying branded Duracell batteries.
The Orbit 96781 ‘Buddy HF’ Single-Port Digital Tap Timer has all the features that you need to plan an optimal schedule for your watering system. The oversized screen and the easy to figure out functions on the dial make it straightforward to program. You can even set your watering system to come on several times a day in hot weather. Choose from the days of the week you want to water your garden or from a selection of hourly intervals.
Consider this Orbit timer if you have a watering system that uses only one hose, perhaps a small system setup. It’s also a good choice for those who want to set complicated watering schedules. We highly recommend Orbit timers as there is a premium brand made from quality materials.
6. Orbit 96782 ‘Buddy II HF’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer
The Orbit 96782 ‘Buddy II HF’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer is very similar in look and function to the Orbit 96781 ‘Buddy HF’ Single-Port Digital Tap Timer (see above section). The difference is that this ‘Buddy II HF’ model has two outlets for dual hoses.
This Orbit 96782 timer has the same large LCD screen and easy to use function dial as the single-port model. Your watering choices are basically the same: the days of the week, watering intervals and watering frequency. In addition, the rain delay feature stops a watering session from going ahead if the weather is bad. The timer operates well if you use two brand new AA batteries to power it.
Having an extra port for another hose complicates programming the timer a bit. Users say that it’s tricky to program both outlets and it’s not obvious how to do it. Several people gave the solution online. The first thing to understand is that you can’t use both hoses at once at the same time, they must be used sequentially. You program the first hose in the usual way; programming the second hose involves entering just the duration of its watering period. Once the scheduled watering by the first hose is finished, the second hose’s session kicks in. Switch between hoses when you’re programming by using the Station button. You can set each outlet to come on at different times, just not at the same time. This is to prevent low pressure. If you set each outlet at the same time, the first one will run and then the second one will run after the first one goes off.
- Two outlets let you attach two hoses to water different parts of your garden.
- Improves water flow rate by 20% over competitors’ models.
- Large LCD screen and clearly marked dial make set-up simple and quick.
- Choices for days of the week, watering intervals and length of watering period make for a flexible watering regime.
- Rain delay feature doesn’t waste your water, especially when you’re away.
- Warranty is for two years so don’t worry if a problem occurs.
- Needs two AA batteries and they have to be brand new and not used before.
- Option to water manually (i.e. immediately) doesn’t overwrite the programing.
- Can’t water from both outlets at the same time.
The Orbit 96782 ‘Buddy II HF’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer provides the ability to water your garden in two different places using separate hoses attached to one tap and one timer. The choices with which to build your watering schedule are enough for all but the most complicated plans. While you can’t water your garden through both hoses at the same time, you can run them sequentially, one after the other.
We’ve made the Orbit 96782 ‘Buddy II HF’ Two-Port Digital Tap Timer our Best Pick of timers for drip irrigation watering systems.
If you want to water different parts of your garden automatically, this two-port timer can handle both your hoses.
You may come across other terms for automatic watering systems such as garden watering systems or micro irrigation systems. All these terms generally refer to the same thing – a way to automatically water your plants, vegetables and trees. The customisable systems water the base of your plants and not the surrounding soil.
In our search for the best automatic watering systems, we focus on finding the best irrigation drip system. This is a series of hoses and drippers that take water from your outside tap to wherever you lay them and automatically and gently release the water in drips. However, one of our selections also comes with attachments for additional watering methods.
In this Buyer’s Guide, we discuss the main features of the best automatic garden irrigation systems so that you make an informed choice when purchasing one.
Kits or components
Your first choice is whether you want to buy a ready-made complete watering system in a kit or make one yourself from components, the DIY route.
The advantage of kits is that all the components you need to install a complete working system come in a box ready for you. However, some kits don’t include a timer so check whether this will be an extra expense if you don’t want to turn the tap on manually such as if you were on holiday.
Building an automatic watering system from scratch means that you can get exactly the system you need but putting a variety of components together. However, some of the watering systems we review allow you to add a selection of components to extend your first system. One watering system in this review allows you to even add on parts from other brands’ garden watering systems which is handy if you already have a system in place.
Most manufacturers state that it’s easy to set up their irrigation watering systems. And it is if the tap adapters included with your purchase (or the ones you buy) for your outside tap. What takes a bit of thought and experimentation is the pressure that the water should be to go fully through the hose(s).
Some watering systems come with a pressure control to make sure of the correct pressure. For these systems that let you adjust the flow of water through the drippers, you need to adjust each dripper to the correct opening. But it’s worth it to be able to deliver different amounts of water to plants with different needs rather than one type of flower rate for all plants.
If the borders or pots you plan to water are away from the faucet, attach a regular but high-quality garden hose to the tap and the other end to the watering hose. You won’t waste water but having it drip over your patio or path.
Drip irrigation is one way to deliver water to plants in an efficient way. Spraying the plants from a close distance or using a soaker hose are alternatives. The drip method, however, is the one that ensures that the water is delivered only to the plant’s roots and not sprayed around the area or soaked into the soil between your plants.
The perforations in the automatic watering system hose are usually placed at regular intervals. This does restrict you somewhat in how you arrange the hoses to cover all your borders or pots. Some models of garden watering systems allow you to add on sprinklers so that the water reaches a larger area such as a lawn. Check if it’s possible to add more than one sprinkler at a time for the most water coverage for your grass.
Use the drip watering system at regular intervals and leave it on long enough to deeply water your plants. Watering deeply and less frequently is better for the plant’s health than watering shallowly and often.
The key to the success of a fully automatic garden watering system is the timer. If you don’t want to have the hassle of remembering when to water your plants or you’re going away from home and your neighbour doesn’t want to look after them, a timer is essential.
Not all timers are the same. Although their features may be similar, how you operate them and how they work is often different. Features to look out for include:
Watering periods: the best automatic drip irrigation systems have times that let you set all elements of a watering period.
The day of the week you want to water the plants on; choose one or multiple days.
The time you want the watering to start; some timers handle three different watering sessions a day while others give you a choice of times.
The duration of the watering period; the widest duration times time range from 1 minute to 240 minutes or 360 minutes.
Some timers are manual timers and others can be programmed from your tablet or smartphone using wi-fi or Bluetooth.
Batteries – timers power sources range from a C battery to two AA batteries; most timers use standard alkaline batteries and not rechargeable ones. Be prepared to pay for brand new batteries as timers don’t operate efficiently on ones that have been used before.
Water now – most timers have a function that allows you to override their programming and turn the watering system on immediately. Don’t worry, this does not overwrite the programming; it will be still here when you turn the manual watering off.
Don’t think of using an automatic watering system as an easy way out of watering your plants; think of it as ensuring that they receive the amount of water they need when they need it. Their health depends on that.
The best automatic drip irrigation systems reviewed here are easy to install, simple to use and save you time and money (on your water bill and in replacing your dried-out plants). A key factor in successfully using a garden irrigation system is the water pressure through your outside faucet. It needs to be high enough to go through the hose smoothly, so make sure you test the pressure before you buy a system. The internal widths of hoses vary so if you have low water pressure, purchasing a wider hose may be the answer.
Your choice of a garden irrigation kit may depend on the type of timer that comes it. If you’re DIY, then you can choose your timer from a wide selection. Remember that not all kits come with a timer, so that’s an additional expense.
Our pick for the best auto drip irrigation system for plants is the Hozelock 20 Pot Automatic Watering Kit With AC1 Timer. This drip system can water up to 20 pots of flowers or plants at one time. It comes with a timer and a 15m hose.
Our pick for the Runner-up garden watering system is the Hozelock Easy Drip Universal Watering Kit for Beds and Borders. This model handles up to a 10m2 area, though you can connect several kits together. A timer is not included so you can choose one that you like.
Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API