The British climate is notoriously unpredictable, and summer can throw everything at us, from heavy downpours to drought.
Find out how to garden in unpredictable weather.
Whatever the weather, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of saving water in your garden. You’ll be able to keep your plants alive in times of drought and if you have a water meter, it will save you money, too.
Saving water will also mean that you’ll be able to cope in the event of a hosepipe ban.
Discover drought-tolerant plants to grow.
In addition to saving water wherever possible, it’s also important to water correctly, directing the water where it’s most needed.
We explain how to save water in your garden.
Saving rainwater is the best way to minimise water use in the garden. Fix a water butt to every rainwater downpipe on your house, shed, greenhouse, conservatory or garage. Slimline models are available for smaller gardens. Find out how to stop your water butt from smelling bad.
Use water-retaining crystals
Use water-retaining crystals or gel to retain water in containers so you don’t have to water them so often. Organic, seaweed-based options are available. Line terracotta pots with polythene to reduce evaporation from the sides of the pot.
Mulch soil around plants with straw or bark to prevent evaporation of water from the soil’s surface. This will also ward off slugs and prevent weeds from growing, which compete with your plants for water and nutrients. Watch our video guide to mulching beds and borders.
Avoid using sprinklers in the garden. They are not very efficient and can use up to 1000 litres of water an hour. Use seep hoses instead, which can be hidden beneath the soil and deliver water droplets directly to plants’ roots.
Use grey water
Use grey water from your baths, showers and washing up bowls rather than fresh water from the tap. Grey water contains minimal amounts of soap and detergent, though an eco-friendly washing detergent should be used if you have frogs or other pondlife.
Water less frequently
Encourage your plants to develop deep root systems by watering them less frequently. A good soak once every 10 days is sufficient for most plants. Watch Alan Titchmarsh’s video guide to watering effectively.