Tips for getting the most out of water on your plot
It’s no secret that the spring months can be a little bit… damp. During famed April showers and May deluges, it can seem there’ll never be a shortage of water in the garden! However, as the warmer months approach (hopefully), it’s a good idea to start thinking about how this water can be best collected, conserved and re-used.
Did you know that in the UK, you could collect an average of 24,000 litres of water from your roof each year? That’s equivalent to 150 water butts. With a bit of savvy planning, you can not only do your bit to help the environment, but save a packet on your water bills too. It’s a win-win!
Here are my five top tips for saving water in your garden.
Mulch, mulch, mulch!
It’s important to maintain your soil quality, as this allows proper drainage and or helps the soil retain moisture as needed. To stop water from evaporating in warm weather, regularly fork some mulch across the top of your soil and hanging baskets and at the foot of shrubs. You might also like to add water retaining granules to the soil, or buy compost with them already mixed in for use during particularly dry spells.
Different types of plant have different watering requirements, so with some careful selection of what you’re planting, you can make some great savings instantly. There are plenty of small trees, shrubs and border plants that are drought resistant, and can cope with very little water – we’re talking lovely garden additions like lavender, jasmine, passion flower, acacia and juniper trees… There’s a great list on the Royal Horticultural Society website that you can read here.
Collect and re-use
In my opinion, all gardens should have a water butt. They’re cheap and easy to set up, and allow you to collect (usually plentiful) rainwater throughout the year for use in drier times. It’s also a good idea to re-use ‘grey’ water from your household, like bathwater or washing up water – just make sure they’re relatively free of harsh chemicals.
Timing is key
Over-watering your garden can be as damaging to plants as under-watering, and it’s loads of extra work. Don’t feel like you have to water your garden every single day! It’s a good idea to check the soil about a spade’s depth down – if it’s nice and damp, you’re fine to leave it a little longer. It’s also best to water during the early or late hours of the day, when the sun is past its highest point, to minimise evaporation.
Use the right amount
It does take a surprising amount of water to keep plants hydrated, but using too much can cause soil to become waterlogged and create water stress for plants. The RHS recommends about 24 litres per square metre every seven days for the average garden – though don’t apply all this water at once! The amount of water you’ll need to use depends on the types of plants you’re nurturing, and also on the type of soil in your area. Heavy, clay soil needs much more water to absorb properly, but retains that moisture for longer. On the other hand finer, sandy soil takes less water but isn’t as retentive. Get to know your soil in wet and dry months, so you have a good idea of when it’s due a drink.