If a hosepipe ban has not come to your area
yet, the likelihood is that it soon will. Every
year the situation appears to be getting
worse. It is worth thinking, not just for now,
but also for the future, about ways you can
save or recycle as much water as possible.
One of the most sensible things to do
is to check the weather forecast. How many
times have you watered the garden, only
to find that there is a downpour a few
hours later? Water butts are a great way
to conserve water. Many water boards are
now offering them at a special price. Place
containers at the end of gutters of buildings
which have a slopping roof such as a shed,
conservatory or greenhouse.
You can also buy electric water butt
pumps complete with hose fittings, which
will give you sufficient pressure to run a
hosepipe or a drip irrigation system from
your water butt.
Every time you take a bath you are using
approximately 80 litres of water, some
of which could be recycled to water the
garden. Speak to your water board or
local plumber to see if there is an effective
way to channel off this water from the
downpipe to your garden.
Failing that, keep a bucket handy,
although be cautious about consistently
using water containing either bath salts or
soapy bubble-baths on a continual basis.
Do be careful about recycling washing-up
water from your kitchen, as it is likely to
have food particles in it.
With grass, let it grow a little longer than
usual before mowing, then raise the cutting
height to 4 cms (1.5 inches), and leave the
cuttings on the lawn. Surrounding plants
with gravel will help reduce moisture loss
and improve drainage.
Using organic material such as wellrotted
compost or farmyard manure dug
well into the soil will not only enrich it, but
will also improve its ability to retain water.
A layer of organic matter or mulch will also
help slowdown evaporation from the soil
and will, at the same time, suppress weeds.
Although it is important to keep seedlings
moist, constant watering can do more harm
than good to established plants.
According to Cleve West, designer
of The Saga Insurance Garden at this
year’s Chelsea Flower Show: “Frequent
watering encourages roots to stay near
the surface, whereas an occasional but
thorough soaking will promote deep,
healthy root growth”.
He advises planting hardy and halfhardy
plants with drought-tolerant
perennials such as Spanish oat grass,
yuccas, sempervivum (succulents), iris
and verbascum. Silver, small hairy or
leathery-leaved plants particularly have
all evolved to reflect the sun and conserve
moisture near the leaf surface. Herbs such
as rosemary fall into this category.
Where plants are in containers, try
and keep them in shady and sheltered
areas to avoid drying out in the sun. Move
whatever you can into the shade during
heat waves. Where possible, position
hanging baskets over containers so that the
water runs through and irrigates the plants
below. Exposed gardens are particularly
vulnerable to moisture loss. Hedges,
screens and fencing will all help to reduce
the evaporation from the soil. If you are
planning a new patio or driveway it is worth
investigating a sustainable drainage system.
Bradstone’s have one on the market that
collects and stores rainwater under the patio
or driveway. The water is filtered through
a geotextile membrane which can then be
pumped out of the storage tank and reused.
For tips on conserving water
Horticultural Trades Association
Bradstone consumer helpline: 01335 372222
Web site created by Mark Griffin