Water Wise Initiative | Love The Garden

Water Wise Initiative

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By Steve Dalton, Chief Gardener

Water is a precious resource and we all need to use it carefully both in the home and in the garden. On average each person in the UK uses between 160 and 180 litres of water every day. A third of that is used for toilet flushing, a similar amount for personal washing, 20 percent for washing clothes and dishes with around 10 percent for drinking and other uses.

So how much is used outside in the garden you may ask? On average just a tiny amount, but that is where legal restrictions are applied, banning householders from using tap water through a hosepipe for watering the garden or cleaning the car.

Is it fair? Well the Minister for Climate Change, Ian Pearson, recently acknowledged that the legislation on hosepipe bans is outdated and says that he is “committed to change”. How much those changes will help gardeners we will have to wait and see. But it is rumoured that drip irrigation systems and other water-saving gardening techniques will be allowed.

In the meantime we are all being urged to reduce our water usage by taking showers instead of baths, installing water saving devices in toilet cisterns and by buying water efficient washing machines and dishwashers. But as an alternative to hose-pipe bans, how about making the use of dishwashers illegal in drought conditions? This would save 20 litres of water a day in each household and reduce national consumption enormously.

But let’s face it, although filling domestic swimming pools may be penalized, us gardeners are still likely to bear the brunt of water restrictions in the future, even though gardening is a relatively small user of tapwater overall.

With this in mind you can do much to help your garden soil hold more rainwater and hang onto it for longer. Adding organic matter to all soils during the wet winter months will help enormously. A few bags of Miracle-Gro Ecosense Soil Improver or Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner will make all the difference. If you are improving soil between established shrubs, roses and perennials then spread the material over the surface and work into the top few centimeters of soil with a fork. In this way the roots won’t be radically disturbed, but the material will be incorporated into the soil structure. Worms will do the rest when they drag the material even deeper.

If the land you want to improve is bare of plants then burying the organic material will encourage deeper root activity and a better reserve of moisture. As you dig the area, simply place some of the soil conditioner into the bottom of each trench, leaving the surface rough so that frosts will gradually break this down into a fine tilth.

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