Gardening after a drought warning

Following the drought warning, gardeners have been advised to conserve water where possible when watering their plants

Matthew Wilson, managing director at Clifton Nurseries and also the author of several books and articles covering drought, says that some of the best ways to conserve water is to re-use domestic water.

For those that are worried about how the drought will affect their garden, Matthew says, ‘There are plenty of things they can do to keep their gardens healthy while respecting the need to conserve water.’

Top tips:

• Create an earth ‘berm’ or dam around the base of plants in established beds, to ensure water reaches the roots rather than rolls off a dry surface.

• One good session per day (preferably at night) of deep watering is better than frequent sessions of shallow watering. Aim the water right at the soil and not sprinkled over the plants.

• Apply a good top layer of mulch to conserve water; a lightweight soil improver such as mushroom compost can also help to retain water in the soil below it.

• Groups plants together: drought tolerant together, thirsty plants together and so on.  Pots are the easiest to care for in groups and can be moved to shady conditions as much as types will allow.

• Remove weeds: they’re thirsty too and will take much needed resources from your favoured plants and crops.

• Avoid digging as this exposes water and allows it to evaporate.

• Collect as much rainwater as possible now and water from all household sources – collect the odd levels left in the kettle; tip the water used for cooking food onto the garden, ice from the ice-maker. There are plenty of systems and advice available to collect household ‘grey’ water although this should not be used for food crops.

By Lauren King

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