As summer arrives watering in the garden rises, with some figures saying by as much as 70%, so here are some tips to help you use water wisely and hopefully save money.
Install water butts
Plants prefer rainwater so attach a water butt to the downpipe on your house, garage, shed or greenhouse to collect free water but think about where you position your butt so the water is easily at hand when you need it.
Area a simple and cost effective way for continuous watering of hedges, herbaceous borders, vegetable plots etc. Soaker hoses operate at low pressure and provide even soaking above or below ground and use up to 70% less water than a conventional sprinkler
Improve your soil
Condition your borders by digging in lots of well-rotted manure or homemade compost into the soil, preferably in the spring, to help retain more moisture.
Mulch, mulch, mulch
Mulches are loose coverings or sheets of material placed on the surface of cultivated soil to suppress weeds, help retain moisture in summer and protect roots in winter. Either biodegradable such as garden compost, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost and bark chippings, or non-biodegradable such as shingle, pebbles or plastic sheeting.
Choose your plants carefully
Look for drought resistant plants mainly from the Mediterranean that need little or no watering once established like aromatic lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme or use perennial flowers such as dianthus, gaura and Veronica. Another great choice is the phlomis genus with over 100 wonderful species.
Try to water early in the morning before the heat of the day which will reduce water loss through evaporation. A really good soaking every few days is better than a daily sprinkle as it encourages a deep root growth whereas a light daily watering encourages roots to grow near the surface making them vulnerable to drought.
Weed your borders
Keep on top of weeding otherwise, your plants are competing with weeds for moisture.
Use water retaining gels/granules
Add water retaining gels/granules to the compost when you plant up hanging baskets and containers. They can absorb up to 400 times their own weight in water reducing the need to water by up to 75%. Just one application and water is released throughout the season.
Your lawn can look after itself if the weather is very hot especially if you let it grow a little longer but fruit and vegetables will need watering as will hanging baskets, containers and anything newly planted.
Choose containers carefully
Patio containers can dry out quickly but plastic or glazed pots are a better option than unglazed terracotta which is very porous.