Roehampton Garden Society

Watering plants and conserving water

Water, precious water

We are entering a possible drought situation so we all need to do what we can to avoid wasting water. Also it is part of our ethos of being environmentally responsible to conserve water as much as possible.

A few tips on how we can help use less water:

  • Do not use a sprinkler. So much of the water evaporates and it is against RGS rules (Rule 22)
  • Water the ground as near to your plants as possible. This also helps with weed control as you won’t be watering the weeds as well as your plants.
  • Watering under the top growth of your plants will help to reduce water evaporation as it will tend to be cooler and will create a humid environment.
  • Can be good to have a watering hole next to larger, water hungry plants like tomatoes and the cucurbit family of plants (courgettes, cucumber, pumpkin, squashes etc). An upside down plastic bottles with the bottom removed works well – see photo. Water into the bottle. Not only does this mean water goes to the plants’ roots it also means you are not watering the weeds.
  • Ensure you have good seals in your hose pipe system. The brass tap attachments are usually better than the all plastic ones.
  • Try to avoid watering in the heat of the day. Best to water either early in the morning or as late as possible in the evening.

Alone we won’t prevent a hose pipe ban but at least we will be doing our environmental best.

with thanks to Helen Finch.

And for even more good watering advice – see the RHS website

RHS top 10 tips for caring for your garden in hot dry weather

With the recent wave of hot, dry weather across the UK you might have noticed your garden starting to wither. RHS Chief Horticulturist, Guy Barter, has some top tips for caring for your garden at a time when water is at a premium. Read more about making your garden more drought resistant

  1. Trees may shed leaves indicating stress but it is seldom fatal. Established shrubs, roses and climbers don’t usually need watering either.
  2. Consider re-using water from your home. Wastewater from the kitchen, baths, basins and showers is suitable to water plants and containers.
  3. Water newly planted trees and shrubs as a priority. Ensure the root ball is wet, checking with a trowel if necessary.
  4. Where planting is essential and can’t be delayed; puddle plants in, fill the planting hole with water (or better, ¼ strength liquid fertiliser) and allow to drain several times before setting out plants.
  5. A good soak, to wet the root zone, every 10 days in July and 14 days in August is best. Watering little and often is generally more work, less effective and wasteful of water. However, a ‘good soak’ can mean the equivalent of four 9L / 2gallon watering cans per square metre / yard.
  6. Move small pots and hanging baskets into the shade. Suspend hanging baskets over a potted plant so run-off water gets used.
  7. Lawns may brown, but although the leaves die the grass remains alive, ready to regrow once the rain returns. So watering them is not essential.
  8. Greenhouses, conservatories and polythene tunnels easily overheat. So boost shading and even remove some panes of glass to reduce temperatures.
  9. Target water where it is most needed. Camellia and rhododendrons lay down buds in late summer, so a good soak every so often then will help.
  10. Warmth will speed up composting so there should be plenty of excellent compost this winter. Add some water, however if the mix looks dry.