Water conservation tips for your garden from BBC Gardeners’ World Live

Water conservation tips for your garden from BBC Gardeners’ World Live

Water conservation tips for your garden from BBC Gardeners’ World Live

Water conservation, hose pipe bans and drought orders are at the top of the gardening agenda this summer and BBC Gardeners’ World Live is at hand to prove that you can conserve water without compromising on the beauty of your garden and how much enjoyment you get from it.
The show, which runs from the 14th to 18th June at the NEC in Birmingham, will provide expert advice from TV gardening experts like Alan Titchmarsh, RHS expert Guy Barter and Hillier Nurseries Managing Director, Andy McIndoe as well as presenting three water-saving show gardens.

During hot, dry summers up to 70% of our domestic water supply is used on gardens, resulting in hosepipe bans and a bad name for water-loving gardeners.  But water saving is common sense as Guy Barter, Head of the RHS Horticultural Advisory Services explains: “Hot Summers don’t need to spell the end of a beautiful garden.  Gardeners should apply water when it is needed and in a way that ensures every drop counts.  There are simple watering techniques and water saving practices that you can adopt to ensure you achieve the best for the environment and your garden.”

Great tips for every gardener:
Try adopting some of the following ideas to maintain your garden this summer.
  • Install water butts to catch rain-water from a downpipe.  These are simple to install by fitting a diverter from the downpipe that feeds water to the water butt.
  • A simple water pump can be fitted to the butt, which connects to a hosepipe to water the garden with ease.
  • Use waste water from the kitchen rather than fresh water.  Just ensure that the water is not saturated with harmful detergents and the garden will benefit from what would otherwise be thrown away.  A variety of ‘green’ domestic’ detergents are available.
  • In greenhouses, use irrigation bags that can be filled from a water butt.  These can be hung up and will drip feed plants.

Watering is not complicated but it is surprising how much can be needlessly wasted.   By following a few simple steps we can all ensure that enough water is applied to replenish soil moisture levels without unwanted wastage.
  • Before watering, check the weather forecast.  If rainfall is due then postpone your watering as excess water will quickly drain below where the roots can reach. 
  • Always apply water beneath the canopy of foliage as wetting the leaves is just waste. 
  • Be aware of when you are watering - the evening is the best time as evaporation will be at a minimum.  If you are able to use a hose you may encounter low pressure at this time due to demand.  As an alternative try watering early in the morning, giving the water enough time to soak into the soil before the sun comes up.

As well as smart watering there is an array of measures you can take to ensure that the water your garden does receive is maximised.
  • To help the soil store more water add organic matter such as well-rotted manure or garden compost.  Add as mulch on the surface, or alternatively dig it in.  Add about one bucketful to every square metre.
  • Cut down on the number of plants in containers in your garden.  They use the most water because they only have limited space for water storage.  As an alternative try using larger containers and make sure you put a plate underneath the containers to catch any excess water.
  • Choose plants that grow well in dry conditions.  For example look out for common ivy (Hedera helix), rose of Sharon (Hypericum calysinum) or periwinkles (Vinca major and Vinca minor).  For more information on how to best to grow these plants and for information on other planting options visit

To see just how beautiful water conserving gardens can be, look out for Katrina Gedney’s Hot! Hot! Hot! Garden, the H20 Happy garden from Mark Ekin and the Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture & Horticulture, and Kate Barr’s Cottage Garden for Climate Change at BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2006.  For more information and ticket details visit or call 0870 165 5573 to book tickets.
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