Just as we would save water in the home, it is important to conserve it in the garden too. Why?
Firstly, to save money (especially if like 40% of the population, you are on a water meter) and secondly, because when in high demand, an astounding 70% of our water supply can be used to quench our gardens’ thirst alone.
Here we have listed seven ways to minimise the use of water in our gardens.
1. Water at the right time
A large number of us are prone to over-watering our gardens. Asides from being extremely wasteful, it also means we are putting in more effort than required. A good way to check whether your garden needs watering is to examine the soil about a spade-depth down. If it is dry, it requires water, if it is damp, it doesn’t require water. If using clay soil, examine the plants instead. If the leaves are looking a little dark and have changed position, this likely means you’re watering them too much.
Another tip involves watering the garden prior to a drought, as this will work to heighten the soil’s moisture levels, whilst also preventing a water shortage. If you can, try to water your plants in the evening, when it is cooler, as this will help to reduce evaporation.
2. Use the correct amount of water
Before watering your plants, consider the soil type. Light and sandy soils require more water than that of heavy soils, whilst clay-based soils require more water but can be watered less frequently. The Royal Horticultural Society suggests using 24 litres per square metre every seven to 10 days for best results. This amounts to two and a half 10 litre watering cans.
3. Care for your soil
Mulching around the base of shrubs, trees and flowerbeds in the spring helps to prevent moisture from evaporating during dry spells.
You can also use this technique on the surface of hanging baskets in order to trap moisture. Another option includes adding organic matter to the soil to improve its structure and retain moisture. Adding gel or water-retentive granules to compost used in the likes of hanging baskets and containers is a great way to care for the soil.
4. Plant flowers that need less water
Some plants require less water than others to cultivate, including the likes of palms, lavender, mimosa and verbena.
With the challenges climate change presents, it is important to choose plants that require less water. Other options include Abelia Grandiflora, Sedum Spectabile and Ceanothus.
5. Use top watering techniques for your plants
There are a number of ways to water your plants, some of which are more economical than others.
Sprinklers – These are best for larger areas, such as lawns and parts of your garden that require greater coverage.
Hoses and watering cans – Although they require a little more effort, hoses and watering cans are much more precise, especially when watering around plant bases. When using this method of watering, it is essential to leave the surrounding soil dry to avoid weeds.
Seep hoses – These are more unique in style and allow water to seep out of holes built into the hose. To avoid evaporation, these types of hoses can be buried under mulch or soil. They are best suited to heavier soils and enable you to water rows of established plants.
Automated irrigation systems – Although the most expensive option, automated irrigation systems are the most effortless, as they allow water to trickle or drip into areas of your garden when programmed to do so. When programming your system, it is important to consider the different seasons.
6. Collect rainwater
Even in the drier parts of the UK, it’s possible to collect an impressive 24,000 litres of rainwater (5,280 gallons) from your roof each year.
If you have nowhere to store this much water, it’s good to know that 160 litres of rainwater per household equals to four billion litres of complementary rainwater per year. In order to collect rainwater, simply use a diversion to avert rainwater from your drainpipe into a water bucket or wheelie bin.
7. Reuse old water
If you live in warmer climates and rain is less of an occurrence, try reusing grey water (such as water from showers, baths, washing machines and the water used to wash your dishes). You can also purchase grey water diverters that will encourage bath water to run into an irrigation system. Although household soaps and detergents are safe for plants, it’s important not to use water containing bleach, dishwater salt or disinfectant as this can damage the plant and ruin the soil structure.
There are plenty of ways that you can reduce your water usage, it just needs a little prior thought. The methods here are all relatively simple to implement and should enable you to make the most of your water sources.