How to Garden Through the Drought
Hosepipe ban: reduce the impacts on your “in Bloom” efforts this year
The hosepipe ban will affect all groups working in southern England this year; however there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the worst impacts.
While each water company has applied slightly different conditions of use, in general the restrictions mean that hosepipes attached to the mains (or bowsers filled from the mains) cannot be used to water domestic gardens, allotments, public parks and green spaces. This restriction applies to domestic gardeners, councils and commercial maintenance companies. In general commercial companies are exempt from the ban when working on commercial premises.
Take steps now to reduce watering requirements:
1. Plant more drought tolerant plants
Central to the “in Bloom” judging criteria is the requirement to plant sustainably. Drought tolerant perennials will require far less water than fast-growing annuals, and the effect can be equally if not more attractive.
The RHS Advisory team has prepared a great deal of information on gardening in a drought, recommended drought-tolerant plants and gardening techniques to conserve water. Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/drought
In addition, the RHS provides all registered “in Bloom” and It’s Your Neighbourhood groups with free access to the RHS Advisory Service (usually a benefit of membership) for gardening questions relating to their group’s activities. To put your question to the team, please email: email@example.com or call 0845 260 8000 (Mon-Fri 10am – 4pm). Please quote ‘BiBIYN’ in the email subject line or over the phone to receive access to free advice.
2. Introduce water-retaining gel to baskets/ self-watering systems to planters
Try to introduce water-retaining gel to hanging baskets and containers when planting them, to reduce the need for such regular watering throughout the summer. Where you can, accompany this with plants that require less watering (i.e. for annuals: pelargoniums, petunias and lobelia rather than softer begonias and fuchsias).
Establish alternative water supplies:
The current ban only affects the use of mains water supplies. Where groups can source water from sources alternative to the mains (i.e. boreholes/ rainwater butts) they are free to use what they require. Now is the time to set up water butts to capture this summer’s rainfall, which can then be used to fill water bowsers/ cans throughout dry periods.
Please note that “in Bloom” judges will take these constraints into account when judging. Please make sure that you inform your judges if you are in a region affected by the hosepipe ban. Where you can, show the judges how you have met the challenges of restricted water availability to maintain attractive area.
Should you have any queries about the hosepipe ban in your area, please contact your local water provider. For queries relating to your local “in Bloom” campaign, please contact your regional coordinator.