Did you know that only 1% of all the water resources on earth are available for human use?
The rest of the planet’s water supply is either saltwater or frozen in ice caps and glaciers. conserving water
With many people across the world struggling for access to safe, clean drinking water, it’s more important than ever that we take measures to conserve water, and a great place to start is harvesting and conserving water in your garden.
Here in the UK, we’re lucky enough (some might disagree!) to have plentiful and regular rainfall which supplies us with fresh water.
There are many ways to avoid having to use water from the tap, and reduce the amount of water that gets wasted in the garden.
Here are a few hints and tricks that I use in my garden to keep conserving water all year round:
Collect Rainwater Conserving water
Harvesting and storing rainwater is a great way to start conserving water in your garden.
To collect rainwater, you need a water butt, which is a storage barrel usually made from plastic, which connects to one of your drainpipes and stores water when it rains.
You can then use the tap at the bottom to fill up your watering can during periods of dry weather.
Using stored rainwater to water your plants not only helps to save water, it can also benefit ericaceous plants such as heather, that cannot tolerate the lime often found in our running water from the tap.
Natural rainwater is always the best source of water for plants.
Water butts also come in loads of different shapes and sizes, and there are some fantastic options that even have plant containers on the top, so your water butt can help you save, without ruining the look of your lovely garden.
Lime tolerant plants can also be watered using recycled household water – such as water used for boiling vegetables and washing up.
A rain gauge will tell you
whether recent rainfall has
sufficiently watered your plants.
Water With Care
You’d be amazed how much water gets wasted when people water their lawns and plants.
The first thing to do to avoid wasting water, is to make sure you are only watering when absolutely necessary.
Test your grass by stepping firmly on it. If it springs back up, your lawn doesn’t need watering, so you can hold off watering for a few days.
Leaving your grass slightly longer when you mow can also help with water retention.
Make sure when you leave sprinklers and hoses out, that they are aimed only over plants and grass, and that none of the water is landing on patios and draining away into the gutter as waste. The time of day you water your plants can even help you save water!
Never water during the hottest part of the day – choose an early morning or evening when there is little wind.
If you water during hot weather, the moisture evaporates out from the soil before the plants have had a chance to use it, and wind can blow water from sprinklers off course.
When you are watering, make sure you soak the soil properly, otherwise it will simply run off the top of the ground and won’t penetrate plant and grass roots properly.
Avoid Thirsty Plants
You can even save water by choosing certain plants and lawn types.
If you are new to gardening, or starting afresh in a new garden, then you can also aim to choose drought-resistant plants, such as Jasminum Officinale, that will need less frequent watering.
Your local garden centre will be happy to advise you about these, or you can look online.
If you are on sandy, dry soil and laying or sowing a new lawn this year, then choose drought tolerant grass mixes that can withstand longer dry spells without turning brown.
Lock in Moisture
Keeping water from evaporating quickly from the soil will mean your plants need less frequent watering.
Using a protective mulch over your beds and borders is a fantastic way to retain moisture at the same time as improving the quality of your soil. Biodegradable mulches such as organic compost and bark chips can be spread thickly over bare soil to reduce water evaporation, insulate over winter and even help to supress weeds.
Non-biodegradable mulches such as slate chips have the same effect, and can help to add a very finished look to your garden – although they won’t change the quality of the soil.
Using a drip irrigation system or a porous hose reduces excess water evaporation, as it supplies water straight to plant roots, so these are the best kinds to buy if you are thinking of investing in one.
So just a few small changes here and there, and you could be saving gallons of water, which is not only great for the environment, but it will also be great for your bank balance too!
By using rainwater and protective layers of mulch, your plants are also likely to be much better off – bringing you an even lovelier garden in 2018.