Can you keep plants alive during a hosepipe ban? Well, yes in fact you can. Sproutl’s Creative Director, Hollie Newton shares her top tips for gardening in a drought.
It’s hot, there’s no rain and now hosepipe bans are being introduced around the country. But it’s not all doom and gloom for the garden as Hollie explains: “This year a scorched lawn is like a badge of honour and we should be wearing that with pride. We’re all doing our bit for the environment by not watering the lawn. The great thing about a lawn is that it will bounce back as soon as it starts raining again.”
Pick your battles
Gardening during drought is all about picking your battles. “Mature trees and shrubs will soldier on through a drought, but it is plants in pots that need a helping hand,” says Hollie. “You might not be able to keep everything alive, so focus on your big and expensive plants and water these by hand with a watering can.”
Other plants that need a bit of TLC during a drought are young trees and shrubs that are only one or two years old and still establishing. So focus your watering efforts on these.
“Go 1950s style and save as much water from the kitchen as possible,” says Hollie. “You can use the water from boiled spuds – just let it cool down first. Likewise, the water from the washing up bowl is fair game too. As long as you’re just using normal dishwashing liquid, it will be fine to use on the garden. You can also use water from the bath tub, again, as long as you’re just using normal soap, it is fine to use on the garden.”
The only water you shouldn’t use on the garden is water that contains bleach, disinfectants or similar chemicals. You can use water from the kitchen or bathroom on all ornamental garden plants. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises not to use this water on edible crops.
Re-think your garden
Longer term, Hollie suggests thinking about what sort of plants you grow. “Let’s face it, we’re going to be having more summers like this, with hot, dry weather, so us gardeners need to look for plants that don’t need much water. Plants from the Mediterranean are properly equipped to face this sort of weather, so things like palms, cacti, lavender, rosemary, santolina, ceanothus, cistus and artemisia – to name a few – are all good choices for gardens.”
There’s also a few tricks when it comes to establishing plants, as Hollie explains: “Instead of watering new plants little and often, give them a really good soaking less often. This encourages them to send their roots down deep to find water.”
And lastly Hollie adds: “Don’t cut down trees! It can be tempting to cut down trees when you move into a new place to give more space or sunlight, but trees are so good during a drought with providing much-needed shade – for us and our plants.”
More top tips for gardening in a drought:
- Group pots together and move them to shadier spots to reduce watering needs.
- Install a water butt to collect rain water.
- Focus on watering vegetables when in flower for a good harvest.
- Keep on top of weeding, as weeds will compete with plants for water.
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