Droughts are natural events when a period of low rainfall creates a shortage of water for people, the environment or industry. Some droughts are short and intense; others are long and take time to develop. The low water resource situation which we are experiencing in the UK is due to 2 consecutive dry winters and an exceptionally dry spring in 2011. As a result, parts of the UK have less water reserves than they have had for many years.
There are some exclusions from the bans….Micro irrigation systems are exempt from hosepipe bans and there may be concessions for elderly and disabled people – these can vary, you’ll need to check with your local water company.
It must be remembered that limits imposed on water use are not designed to prohibit gardening. You can still keep your borders, beds, containers, baskets and lawns looking great as well as continuing to ‘grow your own’.
Gardeners are encouraged to water wisely and efficiently. Below are a few tips gardeners can adopt to help them do this:
- If showers are forecast, do not water your garden
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening when evaporation is minimal
- Be sure to deliver water directly to the base of plants. This is easier to do with a watering can
- Plant trees and shrubs in well-rotted, water-retaining compost and cover soil with 2-3" (5-7cm) layer of mulch/bark
- Don't worry about established lawns turning brown. This shows the grass has stopped growing, but most lawns will recover completely when the rain returns
- Don't cut lawns too short, as longer grass sends down deeper roots and provides more shade
- Collect rainwater off greenhouse, shed, garage and house roofs in water butts
- Mix water-storing granules in with potting compost when planting up tubs and hanging baskets
- Collect and re-use grey water from the bath or kitchen sink to water plants
- Keep borders well weeded as weeds compete for moisture
- Use a bigger pot and more compost to cool the soil and conserve moisture
- Provide shelter by planting in a spot that is protected by walls, fences, hedges or other plants
To find out more about the drought situation in your region, follow the links below for updates from local water companies:
Island Water Authorities (Guernsey Water, Jersey Water, Council of the Isles of Scilly & Isle of Man Water Authority) - www.jerseywater.je
Northumbrian Water Group plc (includes Essex & Suffolk Water) - www.nwl.co.uk