Putting water to work in your garden

The summer sun seems to have past, but with autumn comes a new opportunity to re-think our water habits. 

Earlier this year, we teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society to reward one green-fingered resident with a personal garden consultation with RHS chief horticulturalist, Guy Barter.  From the hundreds of creative suggestions for using water wisely, we were blown away by the winner, Ann from Southport.

The retiree keeps busy tending to her garden, growing a range of fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers and even opens it up to visitors once a year to raise money for Southport Kidney Fund.

With a large garden to look after, you might think a lot of water is required, but Ann has a range of handy tips and tricks for making the most of water to keep her garden in bloom all year round. 

“I’m from an era where we don’t like to waste anything. If a tree has been cut down, we’ve used slices to make tables,” she says. “I strongly believe anything can be saved and re-used if you use your imagination.” 

This philosophy can really be seen throughout the Southport garden. 

Making use of several old items dotted around the garden to collect rainwater, Ann rarely needs to turn a tap if her plants and flowers need a drink. She’s placed an old paddling pool and a small boat at different points, so they can both collect hundreds of litres of water when full. This water can simply be scooped up in a watering can and be used to water the garden. 

But she also makes use of more traditional items like barrels and water butts, which take up less space and are available from United Utilities

When the heavens open, the boats and barrels can fill up quite quickly, but Ann has inserted tubes for any overfill to run straight into the garden. 

Making use of old water bottles is another simple trick Ann uses for growing and watering plants. They can be upturned and used as planters or for saving smaller amounts of water. 

It isn’t just rainwater that Ann makes use of, but the water inside her home too. “I don’t use the dishwasher very much, as we don’t use a lot of dishes. When I’m washing fruit and veg, I always try to save the water in the sink. It’s perfect for growing vegetables because it’s full of nutrients.” 

Ann’s passion for being resourceful has certainly rubbed off on her friends and family, with many now making use of barrels and water butts in their own homes. Like everyone at United Utilities, she believes it’s never too early to develop good habits when it comes to using water wisely. 

“I’ve always encouraged my family to save water. My grandchildren have watering cans to help with the gardening, but they also know to turn taps off when brushing their teeth, so they are picking up good habits already.”

What motivates her is a combination of financial and environmental benefits. 

“It’s not just about saving money, but it does make a difference especially when you are on a meter.”

Ann is one of more than 600,000 United Utilities customers who have switched to a water meter and made a saving on their water bill.

“Water is precious, we really shouldn’t waste it,” Ann says. She truly believes that the natural resource is best for keeping her garden healthy. “There’s nothing better than natural water when it comes to looking after a garden. Why use our tap water when we have rain for free?!”

For more information about using water wisely in the garden, visit:  https://www.unitedutilities.com/help-and-support/save-water/save-water-in-the-garden/