Environmentally friendly ways to help your lawn and garden survive long periods of hot dry weather

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Gardening and watering in dry, hot weather. 

Water companies lose 300 million gallons of water a day through leaks. 

Green Lawn Man wastes the same amount of water in one hour as a family of four uses in a week

These  tips will help your garden and lawn survive long dry spell of hot weather without wasting water 

 Tips for watering plants during dry weather.
In hot weather some plants, most vegetables, will struggle and could eventually die off if they don't get water. It may be a bit late, this year  to  prepare for gardening in a drought but there are several things we can do to keep our gardens green without wasting water and bringing on a hose pipe ban, the most obvious and important is collecting and conserving as much water as we can.
 
Water butts 
Collecting rainwater  from  the pitched roofs on your house and garden sheds etc. is fairly easy to set up and even in Spring and Summer you can collect and save a surprising amount of rain water in Water butts, some  local councils offer them at a discounted price. As the hosepipe ban takes hold prices will rise with demand, especially if we have a long hot and dry Summer.
 
Harvesting Greywater, Bath, shower water and Washing up water.
Greywater harvesting simply means saving and reusing water from your washing machine, bath  or shower.  There are pumps and diverting attachments available to harvest greywater, but the best and easiest way is to take a bucket  into the shower and tip washing up water directly onto vegetables. If you can, divert dishwasher and washing machine outlet pipes to empty into containers. 
 
Watering borders etc.
 
Always water in the evenings or early morning,  watering warm soil or watering during  strong sunlight will cause loss of valuable water through evaporation.
A good soaking of a small area is better than a fine spray over a large dry area. So If you have limited water but a large planted area you will have to be selective about the stuff you are going to water. 

Mulching.

A great way to keep moisture in your soil is to mulch it. Anything from grass clippings, kitchen waste to leafs, in fact anything that was once green and alive can be used as a mulch, the sort of stuff I have listed on my, how to make compost page,  helps preserve moisture and will put nutrients back into the soil. Newspaper, sacking and cardboard also make useful mulches

Plant choice

Consider planting drought tolerant plants, these are generally long rooted plants like Jerusalem Artichokes, leeks, parsnips and carrots. Most herbs with woody stems, such as oregano, thyme and rosemary, will also do well in a drought. Check out  more plants that will thrive in dry conditions on my plants for sandy soil page

If part of your garden is boggy or waterlogged its fairly easy, providing slopes run the right way, to channel water from the waterlogged area to the dry bit by digging a shallow trench filled with stone or gravel. 

Spacing plants in dry conditions.

Don't overcrowd plants of the same species, its OK to plant different types of plants together, i/e long roots, shallow rooting and herbs.

lawns in dry weather.
 
Most grasses are quite resilient to short term drought. Green grass man out with his hosepipe every time the sun shines, wastes the same amount of water in one hour as a family of four uses in a week, and is as guilty as the water companies, who leak 300 million gallons each day, off wasting water and bringing on a hosepipe ban.
 
 Keep your lawn green in dry weather without wasting water and risking a hose pipe ban.

 We have just had one of the wettest  winters on record, but now the water wasters, like green lawn man and the water companies (who can't fix leaks) are fast using up our water reserves, risking a ban on the rest of us watering our plants. Let's look at more environmentally friendly ways to keep lawns green.

  • Grass can survive for long periods without water, might go brown but will quickly recover with the first shower.
  • Unless you totally drench the lawn, watering encourages the roots to stay near the surface, thus rendering it less tolerant to dry conditions, needing even more watering.
  • In dry spells, raise the blades on your mower so that the lawn is left longer and cut the grass less frequently.
  • Mulch and leave the cuttings on the lawn to protect the roots, letting the worms return nutrients to the soil, instead of spraying chemicals every time  you see a worm caste.
  • Aerate the lawn well to allow the moisture to seep down to the roots. This can be done with a garden fork or this simple lawn aerating tool 

 

Keep your grass cut to a length of 7 cm, it will not need to be watered as much as a lawn that is cut too short. To much watering to compensate for the loss of leaf surface, may encourage weeds such as crab-grass, and fungus disease and will encourage the roots to stay shallow. Long, deep-rooted grass can survive drought better and needs water only occasionally, in dry conditions leave your grass longer and water in the evening. Mulch your grass clippings and leave them there! They are full of water and nitrogen! Just what your lawn needs!