Janet Manning’s garden guide

Picture of Janet ManningDriven by a sheer love of plants and a belief in the value of gardens in today’s world, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the perfect organisation to help us out with advice on making the most of our gardens while keeping water use down. 

Below, RHS water scientist Janet Manning provides some useful tips for saving water in the garden this summer:

1.You don’t need to water your lawn! It will survive a drought. Looking after the soil will be the best way to prepare your lawn for a drought, see our advice here.

2.Swap the hose for a watering can or a rainwater fed, well-controlled drip irrigation system. Using a hose or sprinkler for an hour uses enough water to supply a family of four for nearly two days! 

3.Use self-watering containers when growing in pots. They store water so the roots can take it as the plants need it, and they collect rain for later use. 

4.Install an extra water butt at the same level as one already collecting water from your down pipes. You can place another alongside (or further away, as long as the levels are similar) and use a siphon to connect them without having to plumb them together with connector kits. 

5.Use organic mulch at any time of the year when the soil is already moist, or incorporate organic matter into the soil. This creates the crumb structure in the soil that helps water infiltrate into deeper layers.

6.Smart watering – water needs to get to where it’s needed, at the tip of the roots not the leaves. Watering more thoroughly, but less frequently, helps get the water down to the deeper root tips.

7.Water in the morning (or evening), if you can. Plants will start to use water as the sun comes up and lower temperatures in the evening will mean less evaporation. 

8.Install a rain garden, linking your rainwater guttering directly to your garden.  They may not be suitable for high water tables and clay soils. 

9.Watch the weather - if the weather is hot, dry and windy, your plants could need watering, but may be fine if it is going to rain tomorrow.

10.Right plant, right place, right time – there’s plenty of advice on the RHS website where you can find the best plant for your soil-type and try to plant when the forecast is wet!