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How to water plants wisely

I love watering by hand. It gives me the chance to contemplate my garden without distraction. In these days of water shortages and hosepipe bans this simple pleasure has, alas, become tinged with guilt. So what can the hard-pressed gardener do to reduce water usage and still keep their garden in tip-top condition? The key to success is to target your watering to meet the needs of the different plants and crops within your garden.

If you have a small garden, it’s tempting to pop out on a sunny day and sprinkle the whole plot with water. Although damping the surface soil can make your garden look refreshed, most of the water will be lost through evaporation and never reach the plants’ roots. Watering little and often may also encourage shallow rooting, making the plants even more susceptible if drought strikes later in the summer. Far better to water thoroughly - soaking the soil right down to the roots and then leaving much longer gaps between applications. Don’t use the surface soil as a guide when deciding whether to get the hosepipe out. Instead, dig a hole with your fingers or a trowel to inspect the soil a few centimetres below the surface. Above all, bear in mind that it is far more efficient to water during the evening or early in the morning, rather than during the day, because this reduces wasteful evaporation.

Other Tips

  • With perennials growing at full speed, stake any tall or floppy plants.
  • Plant up summer bedding, using pots is always a good idea so that they don’t get smothered by larger perennials.
  • Time to prune any spring flowering shrubs.
  • Put shade up inside your greenhouse to keep them cool and prevent scorching of plants.
  • Cut lawns at least once a week so that they don’t get to long.
  • Position summer hanging baskets and planted pots in bright sunny spots around the garden.
  • Some watering will be necessary, especially in hot conditions but try and water early in the morning or late evening so that the ground is cooler and water has more chance of soaking into the soil fully.
  • Continue to weed borders, although in a established garden you might not have much room to weed!
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