Watering plants: Introduction & Background
I have no doubt that you will have noticed just how dry the spring has been here in the UK. We have had very little rainfall, and any we have had has been light. Farmers have been hoping for prolonged rainfall for some time now. They have also been suggesting the yields will be significantly down and this in turn will put up food prices in the shops.
Of course on a garden level it is easy to see just how dry it has been and no doubt if you have been watering your plants, then you’ll know what a constant struggle it has been this year. The hotter than expected April lead to many species to develop early and the inexperienced gardeners (me included) were tricked into visiting the local garden centre to buy bedding plants.
Costs associated with watering in the garden
Watering plants can really waste water and of course your time. But there are a few things you can do to be a little more frugal with water. Whilst we might think water is cheap in this country, it is still possible to rake up a big bill by using the hosepipe just a bit too often.
Water charges vary quite a lot around the country, ranging from about £2.50 to £4.00 per M3 (supplied and 90% sewage charges). It has been suggested that a typical hosepipe used at average pressure can use about 500 litres per hour or 0.5 M3. Which could also be £1/hour or more. Okay this is cheap by petrol standards, but let’s not go there!
My top tips for saving water (and money)
1. Water at the right time of day. Avoid midday and try early mornings or very late afternoon/evening. Temperatures will be cooler and more of your water will be available for the plants to drink. At hotter times, much will evaporate off and never reach the plants.
2. Try a watering can, as using these is just a little bit more physical effort, you’ll be probably more likely to only use what you need. Also, you can be more accurate and directed. Of course this is not always practical for larger areas.
3. Unless you have a putting green, your lawn will tolerate a lot of dry conditions and you should think carefully about putting on that hosepipe or sprinkler.
4. Don’t water, if you think it looks like rain. Try and wait to see if you can get some free water from the sky first
5. If you do need to use a hosepipe then try turning down the tap a bit or perhaps invest in a flow restriction device.
6. Try to use water butts or if you can afford it a rainwater harvesting underground systems.
7. Imagine that you are operating in water restrictions all the time, that is like when the local water company declares a hosepipe ban.
8. Maybe a bit late for this one, but what about selecting more drought-resistant plants and trees in the first place. Then you might not need to water.
Using some of the above tips can really make you an efficient user of water in the garden and keep those plants going during the longer periods of dry weather.
You might have seen other advice, tempting you to use previously used water (sometimes called greywater). I personally don’t recommend this, as it has also been reported that detergents can actually damage plants.