Be water wise

Next time you’ve got to get the watering done in a hurry why not copy this clever gardeners great idea…it just goes to show that two hands are better than one!

Gardeners are often accused of using more than their fair share of this precious resource so maybe it’s time that we adjust our water usage to fit with the mantra of “waste not, want not”.

Research shows that plants watered during the afternoon, significantly outperform plants that are given a drink in the morning. It’s a good idea though, that you avoid watering in the evening as often the temperatures are not high enough to dry wet leaves.

It’s a good idea to install at lease one rain barrel to collect roof runoff and redirect it for use on your garden.  There are slimline tanks available for even the tiniest of spaces, so there’s no excuse!

The Rainsaver 190 litre Water Butt Kit, £29.98, is the biggest selling water butt in the UK and is recommended by UK water companies all over the country. Link several butts together with a Link Kit, £6.00 (

Treat every drop of water as precious. Save your cooking water when you steam or boil vegetables rather than tipping it down the sink – it’s full of nutrients and when cooled and makes a free fertiliser for watering your plants.

When next time you clean your fish tank, use the ‘old’ nutrient-rich water on established border your plants but not on vulnerable seedlings or edibles that could be affected by salmonella.

Make every drop count

If your leaky tap dripped once every second every day, all day long, you could estimate that it’s going to lose you about 36 ml an hour. If you multiply it out for the whole year it’s about 315 litres a year, which is eqivalent to having two baths or several laundry washes!

Choose patio pots carefully. Different materials heat up quickly or lose moisture due to porosity. For example, metal heats up quickly so metal containers will draw moisture out of the soil plants will need watering more often – lining the pot with polythene will help. Unglazed terracotta or clay pots will lose moisture through their porous surface, so the soil will dry out faster than in glazed pots – when planting up a new clay pot, give a good soaking or it will suck the moisture from the soil.

Up to 70 per cent of water can evaporate from the soil surface on a hot day. It’s a good idea to  lay a protective layer of mulch on top. Avoid fine mulches like peat, as tend to clump and become water-repellent. Instead, use coarser mulches such as bark chips, which allows water/rain to move down through to the soil. For best results, put down a 5-10cm layer on top of moist soil and water in well.

Get to know the water requirements of your individual plants. Large leaved plants for example, require watering more often than grassy leaved varieties. Grey and silver leaves tend to reflect more of the sun’s radiation, so lose less water through transpiration. Plants that have small fine-leaves, such as rosemary and thyme, also have minimal water needs compared to those with larger leaves like basil. Thick fleshy leaves are a good indication that a plant will survive a drought

When planting containerised trees, shrubs and roses during the summer, mound the soil around the plant to reduce runoff and allow moisture to soak slowly into the soil around the canopy drip line and roots. Dig in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure into the planting hole and backfill too and it will hold onto moisture at the roots, helping the plant to quickly become established.

Finally, remember to turn off automatic sprinkler systems if rain is forecast. And erect garden structures that will provide more shade in hot spots in your garden or use shade canopies and awnings so that on hot days, plants can be moved out of the sun.




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