If you’re looking to water the garden whilst your away to ensure your plants stay healthy, or simply want to automate your gardens watering to save time, then an automatic water timer attached to your irrigation system is one of the easiest solutions available. Water timer units attach to your tap faucet and allow you to set specific times and days where they will open by themselves, for a specific time frame, and then shut off the water again, in order to regularly water the garden.
They can be attached to a standard garden hose and a sprinkler, to a soaker hose system, or to a drip irrigation system, whatever irrigation setup you’re currently using in the garden. Water timers come in two main types, mechanical and digital.
Mechanical water timers are generally cheaper as they don’t use batteries nor do they come with some more advanced features that a digital timer might have (such as rain detection features). They can also be slightly restrictive in terms of how often they will turn on and/or off, the number of times they can do that per day, or the specific days. However, depending on what you want to achieve, they could be more than suitable and you’re not going to have to worry about changing batteries.
Digital water timers are usually the more expensive option as they contain more features. Many come with rain detection features that will skip your programming if it starts raining (so your irrigation system doesn’t come on when it’s raining, even if it’s set to). Most also allow you to set the water to turn on and off automatically, at different time periods throughout the day, multiple times per day if you like, and the specific days you would like them to come on. So if you’re looking for a lot more flexibility, a digital water timer is what you’ll want.
Here are some of the best garden water timer options you can buy (mechanical and digital versions) based on previous customer testimony…
The Orbit 62034 Mechanical Watering Timer is a low cost but popular mechanical water timer that allows you to set watering times between 15 to 120 minutes depending on how long you want to run the water for. It is made from a durable plastic with an oversize timer dial on the top for easy setting and requires no batteries. It also has an override setting that allows you to water for as long as you want – essentially bypassing the timer entirely, without having to remove it from your water faucet.
This is a very basic water timer that works much like a mechanical egg timer. You set the duration you would like the water to run for on the dial, and after it has counted down the time span you’ve set (in minutes), it will automatically shut off the water flow.
As a result this water timer is really only useful if you’re going to be around to set it when you want to leave the water running (and not have to worry about shutting it off yourself). This timer will not automatically turn itself on to water the garden. However, if that’s all you’re after, this is a very decent solution for achieving that. As previous customers have said…
“I wanted a cheap solution to automatically cut off the water when I needed to add some to our pool. This thing allows me to “set it and forget it.” I can run errands or travel knowing that the water will shut off. It is durable, easy to use, and reliable. It has no electronics and seems to be waterproof, as my wife left it in the pool for a week, and it still works the same…”
“Works well! Have been using all summer with no issues…”
The Melnor 3015 Digital Water Timer is a nice low cost digital water timer that comes with more advanced features, options and flexibility than basic mechanical water timers. It runs on two AA batteries (not included) which will generally last an entire year before they need changing. It can be set to come on and shut off automatically up to 6 different times each day.
It comes with a large easy to program LCD screen which shows you exactly what you have programmed, and it will retain your automatic watering program even after changing the batteries. You can also purchase the water timer with a double hose or 4 hose attachment, allowing you to split the water flow between two or more hoses whereby each one can be programmed independently of the other which is a really nice feature. You can also override the timer entirely to use your hose as normal, without having to remove the timer unit from your faucet.
As previous customers have said…
“Works exactly as advertised. Easier to program than the previous unit we had and works just as well. I REALLY appreciate the swivel on the controller head. Now we can easily point the LCD away from the damaging sun rays so that the display does not burn out…”
“…have had this two-zone type for several years, couldn’t find them at local stores anymore and was glad Amazon had them. Very consistent, easy to use/program and work great, use little battery. I change out battery at least once a season…”
The Orbit 3-Outlet Digital Watering Timer comes with 3 separate watering values for hose attachments, two of those are automatic / programmable and the third is a manual valve. Programming the timer is relatively easy. The large dial has 6 different settings, set the clock, start time for watering, how long to water (minutes), how often (days), when to turn off, and automatic.
Watering duration for this timer can be set anywhere from 1 – 240 minutes and can be scheduled to come on every 6 or 12 hours, and every 1 to 7 days as required. It also has a manual rain delay setting, so if rain is forecast for the next few days, you can time this to override the other programming for a specific number of days, so the automatic watering doesn’t come on during that time period.
The timer requires 2 AA batteries (included), an easy to read programming dial, and a decent sized LCD display to see what you’re doing. This is a nicely priced digital water timer that should more than suit the needs of most home gardeners. As previous customers have said…
“This timer works great. I had one previously, but after 3 years, it needed to be replaced. I love this timer…”
“I bought all three timers for my house. I first got the one outlet and loved it. I then got the two outlet and loved it. I finally bought the three outlet…”
The Raindrip Analog 3-Dial Water Timer is actually a digital timer that requires 2 AA batteries but does not have an LCD display. The batteries should last a year and there is a low battery indicator light and a fail safe to turn the timer off when the battery level becomes low.
Programming the timer is simple (although could be a hassle for some people). You have to set the program you want at the actual time of day you want watering to begin. So if you want to irrigate your lawn at 6:00 am every day for 10 minutes, you need to get up at 6:00 am to start the program the first time. From that point on it does the rest. And it can be set to water multiple times a day. As previous customers have said…
“I’ve used fancy timers. I’ve had solenoids fail, I’ve had LCDs bake in the sunlight until they are unreadable, I’ve wasted time with overly complicated programming interfaces. This timer is pretty much what I need…”
“I have purchased all kinds of these things. I have to say this one has been so far the best. I think that fact that its analog helps alot. Those LCD screens that some of these have tend to go bad and then you pretty much have a paper weight. With this one there is no LCD just dials which should last much longer. Not to mention battery life is way better as a result…”
The Melnor 4-Outlet Digital Water Timer contains 4 separate watering ports that can each be independently programmed. Each can be programmed to water up to 24 times per day, and to water on individual days, or scheduled intervals (useful should you wish to skip a day). The large LCD screen can be detached from the valve so you can program it when it’s not actually attached to the faucet.
It has a rain delay feature so you can set the timer to delay watering for up to 7 days, and it will begin again after your rain delay period has ended. It requires 2 AA batteries to run (not included) which should last for up top 6 months. As previous customers have said…
“I have been through all the water timers. By far, this product is where you will get the most for your money. Its easy to set up, its design and swivel feature and very pleasing. I truly want to thank the engineers on this product mostly because it works. I have zero leaks, even with the transition from on to off (which will test the internal components). I bought a second one for my back yard because it works so well…”
“Incredibly versatile automated waterer with four independently adjustable outputs. Has worked flawlessly for 6 months. Programming is not always intuitive but once I figured out how to do multiple watering episodes in one day, it met all my needs…”