It might not be the case everywhere, but in many parts of the country it seems we could be heading for a drought. So how can you make sure your garden doesn’t suffer?
Summer in the UK normally consists of several weeks of heavy rain in June followed by three fine days and a thunderstorm.
But, after the driest winter for around 20 years (make that more than 50 years in Wales and Scotland) and one of the driest springs for decades, we’re being warned that if it carries on like this, water companies might have to introduce restrictions.
If that happens, our gardens could start to struggle.
Those of us in the South East are already being asked to be careful with water use. And things like washing the car and watering plants are normally one of the first things we’re asked to cut back on.
Apparently, on average, the water we use in the garden makes up about 6% of our daily use, but on hot days, this can soar to 70%. And if you use a sprinkler, you could be using as much water in an hour as a family of six does in one day!
So if you can’t set the sprinkler on the lawn or train the hose on your beloved (and expensive) plants, what can you do to keep them alive?
If you’re really serious about reusing rainwater in the long term, consider installing a rainwater-harvesting tank. These can be situated underground or above ground, and the collected rainwater is supplied via a pump, which gives good pressure for your hose.
However, it’s much cheaper to use a water butt. These are best set up in the autumn so they fill up over winter, but it’s never too late.
Get the largest water butt that will fit the space you have, sit it on a stand so you can access the tap, and attach it to the down-pipe from your house guttering, your shed or your greenhouse.
Heavy summer showers may not be ideal for soaking the soil because the water soon evaporates, but they’ll fill your water butt soon enough. This water can be used on all your plants and you could always have more than one butt if you’ve got room.
‘Grey water’ from your bath, shower or washing-up can also be used on all your plants. Don’t use dishwasher water, though, as dishwasher salt can harm plants.
Use stored water wisely
Let the lawn go yellow. It doesn’t look attractive, but the types of grasses we use in the UK naturally go dormant during hot, dry weather and regrow again as soon as the rain returns.
Many established plants should cope with a certain amount of dry weather, so don’t water shrubs or perennials you’ve had for years unless they start wilting.
Keep your stored water for pots, hanging baskets and anything newly planted that hasn’t had time to establish a good root system.
Even if hose pipes are banned you can still water plants with a watering can. Soak individual plants that really need the water, rather than sprinkling small amounts over a larger area. And always water in the evening or early morning so it doesn’t just evaporate in the sun.
Have you found other ways to keep your plants alive during dry spells? Or do you just let the garden take its chances? Do you have any good ideas for storing water?