Climate change now means that water - something which we all used to take for granted - is now a precious commodity and although we know that English Summers are not always predictable, it makes sense to think about how to use water in your garden to keep your plants happy without wasting water. To help keep your Summer garden fresh and vibrant all Summer long, follow these top ten tips to make the most of that precious commodity …
1. Invest in a butt:
When it does rain you should collect and save as much water as possible for that non-rainy day. Your roof collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year which then just runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts with free water.
2. Collect and re-use grey wate
r from your bath or kitchen sink. This is great for flower beds!
3. Soak, don’t sprinkle
: Water directly at the base of the plant not over the top (drip watering systems work well but check if this is allowed in your area if there is a hosepipe ban). Giving your plants’ roots a good soaking once or twice a week in dry weather is much better than lightly watering them every day because most of that water just evaporates away. Do remember though, that new plants do need regular watering until they are established.
4. Water early in the morning or late in the evening
when evaporation is minimal.
5. Keep on top of the weeds
as weeds will compete with your plants for moisture!
is one of the greatest things you can do for your garden. Mulches such as pebbles, gravel, cocoa shell, chipped bark, and grass clippings should be applied as a five to eight centimetre layer over soil which is already moist; but do avoid mulching too close to plant stems as this can lead to rotting in winter. Mulching will not only keep away weeds, but it will also keep the soil cool, decrease evaporation, and reduce soil compaction.
7. Don’t cut lawns too short!
Longer grass sends down deeper roots and longer blades of grass provide more shade.
8. Consider drought resistant plants:
As you introduce new plants into your garden, consider those that are more drought resistant. You can often tell whether a plant will tolerate dry conditions by its appearance. Look for silvery or grey coloured leaves, these are covered with tiny hairs which protect them from wind and sun. Plants in this category would include Stachys, Cistus and Lavender. Succulent plants with thick fleshy leaves which store water are also suitable, this would include Sedums, Yuccas and Sempervivums. Aromatic plants have oil in their leaves which helps retain moisture, this makes Eucalyptus trees and most herbs drought resistant.
9. Containers and hanging baskets need water more regularly
. To stop them drying out too quickly, try to site your containers where they are not in full sun and remember, bigger pots use more compost which helps to keep the compost cool lower down and conserve moisture.
10. Keep the moisture in the compost
: When planting Summer containers and baskets, another trick is to use moisture control compost or add some water retaining gel into the compost for the same result.