/ Home & Energy

Your neighbour’s hosing his garden – will you grass him up?

Talk to any gardener in southern England and they’re likely to have one topic on their mind: the hosepipe ban. We green-fingered types must put away our hoses and sprinklers and spend hours watering with a can.

The more adventurous among us will be getting to grips with complicated (and pricey) drip irrigation systems, water butt pumps and grey water siphons to help our precious plants to survive.

People who flout the ban risk a £1,000 fine, but will everyone play ball? Not according to a recent survey by B&Q. It found that 17% of people are planning to ignore the ban, and 85% wouldn’t dob on a neighbour in for using one.

This didn’t go down well with Alan Titchmarsh, who said: ‘It’s vital that gardeners do their bit to conserve water.’

Will suppliers weed out the water-wasters?

We asked some of the water companies imposing a ban how they intended to monitor hosepipe use. They all stressed that the £1,000 fine is a very last resort and that people are very rarely prosecuted; their aim is to work with their customers to help them reduce their water usage. Anglian Water told us:

‘We’re not asking neighbours to “inform” on people using a hosepipe, nor will we be employing anything like “water police”. If we hear of or see a customer using a hosepipe, our response will be to remind people about the drought, and why we have a hosepipe ban in the first place.’

That’s enough to make me comply – I don’t want a visit, however friendly, from my water company. So, I’m going to take some steps to make sure I won’t be left high and dry:

  • I’m going to be careful with what bedding I plant in pots this year (drought-tolerant pelargoniums, here I come).
  • Major replanting schemes will be put on hold.
  • I’ll have a look into getting a water butt (sales have apparently gone ‘through the roof’).
  • I’ll mulch every spare patch of soil at the allotment (where we’ve never been able to use a hose anyway).
  • And – I can’t believe I’m saying this – I’ll be praying for some rain, because that’s going to make my life a hell of a lot easier.

How will the hosepipe ban affect you and will you comply? Would you dob on your neighbour if you saw them generously watering their garden with a hose?

How strongly will you support the hosepipe ban?

I'll do my bit but I won't report a neighbour if they infringe it (68%, 273 Votes)

I'll do my bit and will report a neighbour if they infringe it (19%, 78 Votes)

I won't do my bit (and my neighbours can do what they like) (13%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 403

Loading ... Loading ...

Perhaps it would be better to set a good example and try to avoid conflict between neighbours.

I would like to see everyone on a water meter if they live in an area that is regularly affected by hosepipe bans. Each household should be entitled to a certain amount of water at a cheap rate (depending on the number of occupants) and use above this should be charged at a higher rate. Most would pay less but those who consume large amounts of water (by using hoses, sprinklers or for any other reason) would pay more. I believe this would make everyone more conscious of water use and help avoid the need for restrictions.


I’ve rain everyday and on more than one occasion more than one per day since the hose pipe ban, so I doubt anyone in southern England will need to use a hose pipe.

And anyone who is a keen gardener must surely have a water butt by now, otherwise they can’t be that keen.

Maybe I should get a water butt and offer to sell the water back to the water companies or my keen gardener neighbours?


“How will the hosepipe ban affect you and will you comply? Would you dob
on your neighbour if you saw them generously watering their garden with a

Yes, of course but shall do no such thing as reporting my neighbour
but I bet a passer-by sooner or later wd report such transgression.


Not on the water-meter thing but those who live overseas
where metering is compulsory and water is relatively expensive, say
turning on water-flow at sufficiently low/very low pressure wd prevent
a registering of water supply/usage hence reduce water bill but needs
a water butt or two to collect the accumulated drips and drips of water
and all for free.

Wonder if this is the case here as to such practice as to water metering.


If water companies want to encourage reporting of
transgressions, they wd indubitably have issued a freephone
hotline that thankfully they haven’t. Remember they need our
goodwill to see things through.

These companies are for-profit outfits with sole shareholder concerns
and shd have invested in schemes years ago to prevent a shortfall of water
that can reasonably be anticipated in drier parts of England and a hosepipe
ban makes things that little bit harder for keen gardeners for one.


I’m all for recycling – paper, glass, clothing etc. But water? There is as much water in the world now as the day it was created! We, as an island, are surronded by it.

It’s a disgrace that our water supply is run by for-profits companies. Meters encourage people to use less so prices have to go up in order to generate increased profits.

Proper investment would ensure there is plenty of water for all our needs. It’s a scam as far as I’m concerned; and no, I would not report anyone using a hose.


Is it relevant that the population has increased and so has water consumption per person?


The rainy British Isles are totally surrounded by water and
one might expect a water shortage in the parchment areas of
say Ozzieland but not in wet Britain.

Lack of investment is the main culprit, the substantial profits of
the water companies being siphoned off to the shareholders
and we all in the affected areas are asked to conserve water,
ultimately in shareholders’ interests in the form of dividends
paid out.

Aviation Spirit says:
13 April 2012

It’s not a ‘disgrace’. What certainly was a disgrace was the grossly inefficient use of manpower back in the days of the public sector management of water. So too, is the manner in which people waste water from their houses. Roll on meters. In real terms, allowing for inflation, my water bills are considerably lower than they were 30 years ago.

Ed James says:
5 May 2014

“As a consequence of this,
average household water bills have increased by almost 40% in real terms in the first
decade under privatisation (Smith, 2003). “

Sophie Gilbert says:
13 April 2012

If one were really green-fingered, wouldn’t one be capable of growing quite a wide variety of plants that don’t require artificial watering? That would be a start.


I agree, but some will insist on freedom of choice, and think only of themselves.

It is well known that frequent superficial watering discourages some plants from developing deep roots, so efforts with a watering can could be counterproductive.

Aviation Spirit says:
13 April 2012

Have you all gone mad ? This isn’t about ‘water police’, and heavy fines. Various water Authorities have already nade it clear that they are not going to spy, or drag people into Court, but will merely admonish them quietly. This whole ban is merely about reminding us that we should all use much less water. Frankly most of us socially-responsible types will all ‘obey’ the hosepipe ban, and would be doing what we can to use less water anyway. Fact is that even if one in four people flout the ban, the other three-quarters will put up with it. Yes, we three-quarters will all be fed up with those who flout it, but our own efforts will still help keep the water flowing for everybody.


£1000 fine for every leak reported to the water board’s and not fixed within 7 days [taken from shareholders dividends, not increased prices], sounds good to me.

Oh I have misunderstood this article [I must be a politician], its about the consumer who pays for the whole sorry messed up water industry being threatened again, because the water suppliers cannot get a national distribution grid up and running on this tiny water soaked Island of ours.

Will I report my neighbour? of course not as he has set his sprinkler up to cover my garden as well, so I get all the benefit and take none of the risk, [told you I must be a politician].