Save water in the garden
It is possible to have a colourful and productive garden without using large amount of mains water – here are some handy hints to help you to be water efficent in the garden.
Watering your garden
- The best time to water your garden is early morning or in the evening when the weather is cooler.
- Avoid watering in the midday sun or when it’s windy as a lot of the water will evaporate.
- A watering can is better than a hosepipe for watering your plants, especially one fitted with a rose. It creates smaller droplets, like raindrops, which sink into the ground better. Hosepipes tend to be too rough and can wash away the soil. Aim the water at the roots not the leaves otherwise the water runs off and evaporates.
- If you water plants and shrubs too often their roots will remain shallow, weakening the plant.
- Watering plants less frequently, but deeply and thoroughly, helps to develop healthy, deep root systems, as well as making best use of the water you give them.
- To stop water dripping away from a hanging basket, cut the bottom off an empty plastic bottle, leaving the cap on, make a few small holes in the side and put it in the basket upside down. Simply fill this container every time you water. It will spread water more evenly and you won’t spill water all over the floor.
- Try grouping plants according to their water requirements and this will limit the area you need to cover when watering.
Maintaining your lawn
- Don’t water your lawn too often. Over-watering can weaken your lawn by encouraging roots to seek the surface.
- Lawns can survive long periods of dry weather if the grass is not cut too short.
- Set your mower blades higher when you’re mowing in dry conditions – this lessens the likelihood of the freshly cut grass scorching from direct sunlight.
- Leave the grass box off when mowing in summer – the cuttings left on the grass will protect the lawn.
- Design your garden with hedges, trellises and trees. These naturally shady spots provide valuable protection from the sun for your plants and lawns.
- Preparing your plants and soil for efficient water use
- Avoid digging or hoeing open ground, which allows moisture to escape. A good dig early in the season will be enough, especially if you dig in good organic material, compost, manure or leaf mould at the same time.
- Mulches such as wood chips, bark and gravel help to prevent water evaporation.
- When choosing plants, consider drought resistant varieties which need less water. Border plants such as sage, ice plant and thyme and shrubs such as lavender, rosemary and yucca all need less water.
- For vegetables, get new plants off to a good start with a thorough watering while they are still in their pots or boxes. Plant them when they are well established.
- Level off flower beds after planting to prevent water run-off.
- Dig a little ‘moat’ around trees and shrubs to collect water.
- Use water storing granules in garden and indoor plant pots and tubs – most garden centres will stock them.
- A good way to recycle water is to use dish water on your garden. This type of water is actually good for guarding against aphids (greenfly, blackfly and plant lice).
- A water butt in the garden can collect rainwater that can be used on your plants and lawn. They can be stand-alone or easily plumbed into your existing guttering and down pipes.
- Water indoor plants with the remains of unwanted glasses of water.
- If you have a disused borehole or well get a pump and tap installed and use it for your outside watering needs. This saves treated water for essential use and could save you money if you have a water meter fitted.
- If you use a hand-held hosepipe and are not on a water meter you need to pay an annual hose pipe charge.
- If you use a water sprinkler or if you have a swimming pool (including the temporary above ground variety), you are required to have a water meter installed.