Good timing – water early in the morning, late in the evening or on overcast days so that less water evaporates and more gets to the roots.
Soak, don’t sprinkle – it’s better to give your plant roots a good soaking once or twice a week than lightly watering them every day. New plants do need more regular watering, though, until they are established.
You can with a watering can – you can use much less water with a watering can. Hosepipes can use as much as 18 litres a minute, although trigger guns control the flow and prevent waste.
Free water – water butts can collect as much as 85,000 litres of rain a year from a single roof. This is free water that would otherwise run straight into the drains or sewers. And because rainwater is softer than tap water, plants actually prefer it!
Magnificent mulch – this will create a protective layer to keep in the moisture and prevent evaporation. It will also help keep the soil cool in summer, keep weeds away and reduce soil compaction. Pebbles, gravel, cocoa shell, chipped bark or grass clippings will all do the job. You can make your own by composting garden and kitchen waste. Mulch should be spread five to eight centimetres thick, but not too close to plant stems as this can cause rotting in winter.
Let the grass grow – you can help prevent grass from drying out by letting it grow a little longer in hot weather. Simply mow less often and raise the cutting height on your lawnmower.
Avoid overwatering – too much water can weaken the grass roots, encouraging them to stay close to the surface of the soil. Remember that if the lawn turns brown in dry weather, it will green up when the rain returns.
Use sprinklers sparingly – these can use as much as 1,000 litres per hour, which is more than a family of four can use in a whole day! To avoid using more water than necessary, time the use of sprinklers to avoid evaporation. You must have a water meter if you are using a sprinkler system.
Hanging baskets and pots – if you’re preparing hanging baskets or pots, line them with plastic and then add crystal gel to the soil before planting. This will prevent water loss when watering and help the soil stay moist so they need less watering.
Dry weather plants
These are just some of the plants that need less water and that can grow well in our climate:
Plants with leaves that are silver, blue or grey in colour, or that are spiky, furry or soft, generally tend to be less thirsty.
For more information go to the Royal Horticultural Society or www.plantadvice.co.uk
Washing the car
Instead of washing your car with a running hosepipe, try the old fashioned bucket and sponge method! Even better, use rainwater from a water butt.
Just 30 minutes with a hosepipe can use more water than the average family uses in a day. Jet washes and automated car washes also use more energy.
If you do use a hose, a trigger gun will reduce waste because it lets you control the flow of water. Please remember to turn off the hose at the tap when you have finished, though, as trigger guns can drip.
Pools and ponds
Paddling pools – please don’t overfill them on hot days when demand for water is high.
Ponds – get leaks mended, rather than having to keep topping up the water level.
Fountains – If you have a pump and fountain, check the pressure to avoid water blowing out of the pond on a windy day.