With the cost of living on the rise and summer well and truly under way, it can be hard to find the balance between conserving water and keeping your garden green and thriving. You don’t have to compromise; these top tips will help you to keep your plants well-watered without wasting precious water.
Start with the soil
You wouldn’t fill a holey bucket with water and expect it to retain it all and the same goes for your soil. Healthy soil is able to retain moisture much better than non-mulched soil. You can use garden compost, straw, bark or manure to mulch with; the addition of organic matter will improve your soil’s structure and prevent excessive water loss.
Get the quantities right
It is important that you are guided by your soil type when determining how often you should water your plants, and how much water you should give them. If you have light, sandy soil, it will need regular watering with a little water at a time. However, more clay-based soils will need watering less frequently – but when you do water them, they will need more water. According to the RHS, you need up to 24 litres per square metre every week to ten days. That equates to just under three watering cans per square metre.
Use water-saving methods
Using a watering can may be more labour intensive, but if you use the three-can rule above, it will help you to save water and get a more accurate idea of water used than if you use a hosepipe. The advantage of watering cans and hosepipes is that you can target specific areas – just don’t leave hosepipes running while you move from one garden plot to the next. Sprinklers have their place in the garden, particularly if you have a larger area or lawn that needs regular hydration. Seep hoses can also provide efficient water; these are hosepipes with holes in which can be buried under the surface of the soil to avoid evaporation.
Collect your own water
Possibly the most valuable way for you to save water in your garden is to collect your own. Install a water butt to collect rainwater; a gardener or handyman (or woman) may be able to attach some kind of irrigation system or seep hose to it to allow for automatic watering. Before you pull the plug on your washing up or bath, remember that grey water is great for watering plants. Just make sure that no bleach, dishwasher salt or strong cleaning products are in the water; normal soap and detergent are fine.
If you want to get your garden growing but you don’t know where to start, why not get a gardener to get you up and running? A good local gardener will be able to tell you the best time and place to plant your produce, and how to care for it; for added peace of mind, you could arrange regular gardening sessions until you are confident. Do you have your own water saving hacks? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.