With a nationwide hosepipe ban recently announced, we need to be very selective about how and when we use water in the garden. Even if it rains soon, it will take weeks if not months for reservoir levels to get back to normal and at the time of writing the ban is expected to be in place until at least the end of July. Right now gardens have to contend with unprecedentedly high temperatures, drying winds and plants and trees in full leaf – all things that make them need water more than ever. Garden lovers have difficult decisions to make – which areas need water the most - as there simply isn’t enough to go around. You may be able to eke out supplies by re-using “grey” water, and here are a few tips to help you use any water to best advantage:
Don’t worry about the lawn. Although they’re turning brown all over the country, when the rain returns, as it surely will, the grass will recover and return to its usual lush green. It’s best not to cut the grass in these conditions so enjoy the break!
Mulch as much as you can. Homemade compost, well rotted manure or chipped bark can all be used, but you can get creative if you’re stuck – thick cardboard from boxes or layers of newspaper, weighed down, are better than nothing and you can always remove them when normal (rain ) service is resumed. Mulching helps slow down the evaporation of water from the soil but do remember to soak the ground well before you apply it.
You can mulch containers too, particularly if there’s a lot of exposed compost – rounded beach cobbles and pebbles are ideal for this.
Give priority to the plants that need water most – anything newly planted, as they won’t have developed strong roots to seek out water for themselves yet – and anything in containers, as they are likely to dry out quickest.
When watering from a can, remove the rose and aim the spout close to the base of the plant so that the water is getting into the soil and to the roots, where it’s needed.
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