Seven water companies - Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Veolia Central, Veolia South East and Anglian Water have brought in water restrictions, effective from today following one of the driest winters on record. The bans will affect 20 million people across the south and east of England.
However, the HTA are urging people to carrying on gardening and advising that it is possible to keep your plants alive and healthy throughout the hosepipe bans. Gardeners can still water their plants and vegetables by using watering cans and unlike the blanket bans enforced in 2006, the HTA have secured the exemption of drip irrigation from the seven companies (terms may apply, please check your local water company for details) as another watering method.
For those that are new to drip irrigation in the garden, it is a simple watering system that places water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface. A typical drip irrigation system uses up to 92% less water than a hosepipe and is a far more efficient way to water the garden.
Water butts are also a good way to conserve water in the garden as they collect rainwater off greenhouses, sheds, garages and house roofs. HTA member garden centres have reported sales increases of up to 300% compared to this time last year. The roof on a house collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year in the UK which runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts which can be used to water garden lawns, vegetable patches and house plants.¹
As well as drip irrigation and water butts, there are many other ways to cut down on the amount of water your garden needs.
• If showers are forecast, do not water your garden
• Water early in the morning or late in the evening when evaporation is minimal
• Be sure to deliver water directly to the base of plants
• Plant trees and shrubs in well-rotted, water-retaining compost and cover soil with 2-3" (5-7cm) layer of mulch
• Don't worry about established lawns turning brown. This shows the grass has stopped growing, but most lawns will recover completely when the rain returns
• Don't cut lawns too short, as longer grass sends down deeper roots and provides more shade
• Mix water-storing granules in with potting compost when planting up tubs and hanging baskets
• Collect and re-use grey water from the bath or kitchen sink to water plants
• Keep borders well weeded as weeds compete for moisture
• Use a bigger pot and more compost to cool the soil and conserve moisture
• Provide shelter by planting in a spot that is protected by walls, fences, hedges or other plants
Tim Briercliffe, Director of Business Development at the HTA said: “The blanket hosepipe bans of 2006 were very damaging to garden industry and therefore we very much welcome the exemption for drip irrigation provided by all seven water companies that are implementing bans. It encourages investment in water-efficient products, which will help achieve greater water savings year-on-year but most importantly, it means that people can continue gardening.”
A water saving tips poster and up to date information on the current water restrictions can be found at www.the-hta.org.uk/water
The extent of the full restrictions varies across the water companies so the HTA encourage gardeners to check their local water company’s website for the exact terms and conditions.
¹ Water UK
Gill Ormrod, Angela Bean or Cassie King
HTA Media Office
Tel: 0118 930 3132
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is the trade association for the UK garden industry. It is dedicated to helping develop the industry and its member businesses, including most garden centres and other garden retailers, growers, landscapers, manufacturers and service providers. The HTA was founded in 1899. Its key roles include: provision of advice-based services such as business improvement schemes, briefings and help lines; training, conferences and events for members; market information and research; promotions such as the National Garden Gift Voucher scheme; and working closely with government and the media to influence policy and projects.