17 Aug Hot summer gardening
Whether you’re a true sun-worshipper or prefer things a little cooler, none of us can fail to notice the effects of this long, hot summer on the parks and gardens all around us. Normally lush, verdant lawns are now arid and dappled with brown patches—but don’t panic, they’ll recover once they’ve had a few good drinks in the autumn rain.
If you’re working hard to keep up with the watering in your own garden, you’ll be keen to keep the moisture around plant roots and prevent any wastage due to evaporation. It’s also important not to misuse water supplies when reservoir levels are dwindling.
Here are my top five ways to reduce the amount of watering required and save precious water where possible:
- Plant drought-resistant plants to keep your summer garden looking fabulous. Choose alpines or varieties which are native to countries with hot, dry climates and you’ll help reduce the need for constant watering. Their inbuilt methods of finding or conserving moisture, such as funnel-shaped leaves, succulent foliage or deeper root systems mean that these plants cope far better in a heatwave than standard varieties
- Leave the lawn longer before you mow and you will help it to protect itself from scorching. Mow every other week and put the mower on a higher setting, as taller grass develops deeper roots, which are more likely to find moisture in the soil. Another great tip is to leave the grass box off and mulch the cuttings in as this helps to prevent surface evaporation. Try to stay off browning grass to give your lawn the best chance of bouncing back when the weather changes.
Lose the leaks to avoid wastage—choose a good hosepipe and attachments to avoid wasting any water and ensure that irrigation is targeted at the base of plants that need it most. The YOYO extendable hose system is lightweight, durable, doesn’t kink or leak at the attachments and comes with a multi-jet spay gun, allowing you to regulate the water flow and choose a setting which mimics gentle rainfall. It doubles in length when connected to mains water, enabling you to reach far and wide, and shrinks back again when emptied for easy storage. The handy Aquastop shut-off system also means you’ll never waste a drop—making irrigation easy and efficient.
- Collect rainwater in water butts and use it to water plants without calling upon dwindling reservoir water supplies. Simply direct your guttering into a water butt instead of a drain and any rain which falls on your roof will be safely stored for future use. You could also connect a trickle irrigation system to your water butt, saving time and effort, or use the tap at the base to fill watering cans as you need them. Another top tip is to use grey water—that is, water that’s been used for another purpose first, such as washing up or bathing, to water your plants.
- Add water-storage crystals to your containers—these useful additives keep plant roots moist for longer after watering. Just mix them into compost to keep hanging baskets, pots and planters from drying out too quickly. The little granules swell to many times their size when you water, creating mini reservoirs within the container, they then release this moisture into the soil as the soil dries out, holding moisture near the roots for longer without waterlogging.
Use my top five water conservation tips and you’ll get your garden through the heatwave and save water into the bargain.