As the Great British Summer looks set to finally arrive, Thames Water is offering up its top tips for gardeners to help them save water while still growing beautiful blooms this summer.
Despite May having been one of the wettest for years, drier months and high water use during summer can have an impact on water resources for future generations, while on hot days when water is in high demand, water companies can struggle to treat it and pump it to taps fast enough, leading to low pressure and sometime no water for short periods.
Thames Water’s top tips are:
- Don’t water when the sun’s out and temperatures are hottest to minimise the water evaporating. Water in the mornings if you can as evening watering encourages the slugs and snails to come out at night
- Add an organic mulch such as bark or wood chip around new plants, it acts like insulation to stop evaporation and feeds the soil
- Collect rainwater in a water butt or other container to use on the garden on dry days. Rainwater is better for plants than tap water anyway.
- Use a watering can instead of a hose or sprinkler – A sprinkler can us as much water in half an hour as the average family of four uses in a whole day!
- Plants adapt to being given less water, the soil doesn’t have to be wet all the time, think of your soil like a pint glass, as long as it’s half full, everyone’s happy, it doesn’t have to be full all the time.
- Water less often but well enough for the water to reach the roots. Pour a little over the roots and wait for it to sink in and then keep topping up. Otherwise the water spreads across surface of the soil, away from the roots.
- Leave the lawn to go brown. Grass will sacrifice its leaves to save its roots in a dry spell and will soon bounce back after the rain comes so doesn’t need “keeping alive” with lots of water. Although a brown lawn doesn’t look as pretty as a green one, once some rains comes it will quickly go green again, and by having a brown lawn you’re just showing your neighbours that you’re doing your bit to save water!
- Use a bucket in the sink or shower to capture water as it heats up. This can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants or to clean patios and garden furniture.
Water Crisis in the South of England
Water efficiency manager, Andrew Tucker, said: “We know a lot of people have taken up gardening in the last year as something to do during the pandemic and last summer we saw water-use rocket as more of us cared for plants and veggies at home. Our gardens need water to survive just like we do but by watering at the right time of day, in the right way, we can all keep them thriving in a sustainable way.
“Although we’ve had a lot of rain this month and winter was pretty wet too, its’s still important to think carefully about our water use. Water butt owners will have had no trouble filling them this month so as the weather gets hotter and drier, they’ll have plenty of water for their plants and won’t need to turn on the tap and draw on the drinking water supply.
“Even when river and groundwater levels are OK we can’t always get it through the system at the same pace customers are using it when demand suddenly goes up 20 per cent as it did during the hot spell last May and June.
“Being as water-efficient as possible in the garden helps us get through the summer as well as protecting the local water environment including precious chalk streams, now and for the future. There is also the added benefit for anyone on a meter as using less will keep their bills down.”
It’s estimated that an extra 1.9 million people are due to move into the Thames Water region by 2045 rising to an extra 3.6 million by 2100. This, combined with climate change, means the company has predicted there will be a shortfall of 350 million litres of water a day between the amount available and the amount needed by 2045 if no action is taken. By 2100, this is predicted to increase to 650 million litres a day.
To avoid this shortfall Thames Water is repairing thousands of leaks a week and supporting its customers to use less water by rolling out smart meters. Its water resources plan also includes proposals for a new reservoir near Abingdon, transferring water from the Midlands and using treated wastewater in the drinking water cycle.
For more water saving advice check out thameswater.co.uk/watersmartcampaign or visit the Royal Horticultural Society website for planting and gardening tips.