How can gardeners cope during a hosepipe ban? 10 tips on gardening without sprinklers

With hosepipe bans already seen in force in Northern Ireland (this has just been lifted) and due to start in the north west of England in August, gardeners will be dusting off their watering cans.

United Utilities (UU) is introducing a temporary hosepipe ban, which will affect seven million people in the north west of England from August 5, to “safeguard essential supplies”.

Sales of watering cans have risen in banned areas (David Young/PA)

Watering cans have been flying off the shelves in Northern Ireland – but what else can we do?

While hosepipe bans have not been enforced in other areas, gardeners everywhere should be looking to save water, as the heatwave looks set to continue into August. Hozelock (hozelock.com) offers the following tips:

1. Water early and late

Water at sunset to reduce evaporation (Thinkstock/PA)

Watering early in the morning and late at night reduces evaporation and results in healthier plants.

2. Some drip watering systems can still be used in hosepipe ban areas

Some drip irrigation is allowed in certain hosepipe ban areas (Thinkstock/PA)

UU has designated that you can only use an approved drip or trickle irrigation watering system fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, that is not handheld, but places water drip by drip directly on to the soil surface or beneath the soil surface, without any surface run-off or dispersion of water through the air using a jet or mist. If you’re in a hosepipe ban area, check with your water company to see if your system meets regulation requirements.

3. Water consistently

Water thoroughly rather than little and often (Thinkstock/PA)

Avoid a ‘feast or famine’ approach to watering which can affect plants’ health and cut the yield of fruit and vegetables.

Grow bag waterers are great for fruits and vegetables. You can fill a trough on which the grow bag sits and the water is passed through the underside of the bag via spikes covered with capillary matting.

4. Zone your garden

Drought-tolerant plants like lavender won’t need much water (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

An area planted with lavender, sedum, phormium and other plants which enjoy a dry spell, can be watered sparingly.

5. Put containers in the shade

Shaded plants won’t need as much water (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Water less often by temporarily moving pots and containers into a shady area. If you are going away for a few days, put them on capillary matting to keep the compost moist but not soaking.

6. Water accurately

Water plants at their roots, not above them (Thinkstock/PA)

Focus on the base and roots of a plant. Watering from above the plant can result in water being wasted as it drips off leaves beyond the roots. Move the nozzle down to allow you to direct water more accurately.

7. Mow less often

Mow the lawn less frequently (Thinkstock/PA)

Letting your grass grow a little longer helps to protect it from dry weather and also allows it to recover quicker when it does rain. Longer grass also encourages more wildlife in your garden.

8. Use a water butt

Make use of a water butt (Thinkstock/PA)

A well-positioned water butt can help to make the most of whatever rain there is and can be pumped out for use.

9. Prioritise your watering

Water newly-planted specimens over established ones (Thinkstock/PA)

Focus on new plants and any fruit and vegetables instead of larger, well-established plants which have a much better chance of surviving dry conditions.

10 Be prepared

Don’t use any water from water butts until you really need to and then use drippers to ensure you only water exactly where you want to. By ensuring the rate at which they deliver water is as low as your plants can manage, you won’t just save water, you will keep your water bills down too.

- Press Association

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