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Ways to save water - Part 1 (with thanks to Ian Drury)

For the gardener concerned with newly planted ornamental trees, hedging, soft fruit, fruit trees, lavender and the like, the probability is that water will become increasingly scarce. The weather may feel wetter, but as we build more (and we do) the area of land covered by housing, roads and industrial estates stops being "porous" and instead is drained into reservoirs or straight into the sea. Therefore less water is absorbed by mother earth each year making the ground drier..... If your water is metered, that makes your life more expensive and if there is a hosepipe ban natural reserves of water may be inadequate to support your plants.

So here is a fairly random list of things that can be done to make your garden less dry.....

1. Do not have concrete, paved or other surfaces to your paths that cause water to run off. Use gravel over landscaping fabric, pebbles, bark chippings etc so that rain fall is absorbed into the earth and does not run off in a flood to the nearest drain.

2. A hot tip is to stop watering your (established) plants. Well almost - do not water until they look a bit distressed (the leaves tend to flag a bit). Then water really well. Stressing plants like this makes them send their roots deeper where the soil tends to stay damp longer....

3. When you are preparing your vegetables in the kitchen, do them in a bowl, not in the kitchen sink. Peel your potatoes, scrub your carrots, wash your salads, but whatever your do - KEEP THE WATER. And use it in your garden.

4. Always water plants very well immediately after planting. Then apply a good thick mulch (2"/5cms) of almost anything that is organic and non toxic. Mulching not only ultimately improves the soil, but it also helps retain water.

5. Build in a watering system when you plant trees and shrubs. You can get fancy with purpose made irrigation systems, but if you sink a flower pot up to its rim right next to each shrub, you can fill that with water. The water gets to the roots and the weeds have none of it. Variations on a theme include sinking 2 litre soft drinks bottles (pouring end down) and with the bottom cut off (you get the same end result but these are probably more effective with trees. In both cases, once the plant is truly established, either take the pot/bottle out of the ground or fill it in.

6. Pretty obvious, but why not install rainwater barrels (butts) at the bottom of each of your drainpipes so you catch rainwater off your roof. Most DIY and hardware shops now supply a fitting that goes onto your downpipe that diverts rainwater until the barrel is full and then, cunningly, lest the rest flow down your your drains...

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