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6 ways to save water in your garden

Thames Water Employee

Saving water in your garden doesn’t mean that your plants need to suffer. In fact, you may find that your garden blooms better than ever if you design it with saving water in mind. 


Whether you’re a keen beginner or seasoned pro, why not get your green fingers dirty with our sustainable water-saving tips?





1. Plant trees

Trees usually need less water to survive than your lawn - around 68 litres of water a week. But they can also release over 2,000 litres every single day. Their leaves and bark store hundreds of litres after just a couple of centimetres of rain, some of which the tree will slowly release into the surrounding soil. The rest will travel from the deepest roots to the tips of the topmost leaves, evaporating back into the atmosphere as an essential part of our water cycle. 


So, how does this help you save water in your garden? Trees provide shade, so even when the sun’s shining, less water will evaporate from the soil around the base of your tree. This can help surrounding greenery to thrive. When leaves fall in autumn, they’ll slowly decay, helping to trap even more moisture in the soil. This natural mulch contains essential nutrients that will help your tree grow taller and your plants grow stronger.


Plant native trees such as hawthorn, holly, birch or willow and you’ll not only help to save water in your garden, but you’ll also encourage animals like birds, butterflies and hedgehogs to stop by.


2. Install a water butt

When it rains, the water usually runs straight off your roof and into your drain. But why let all that water go to waste when a water butt collects an average of 85,000 litres of runoff a year? That’s enough to fill approximately 370 buckets, which you could use to wash your car, or 500 watering cans, which you could use to water your plants.


If you’re wondering where you’d fit a massive barrel-shaped bucket in your own garden, don’t worry. You can get compact water butts to fit even the tiniest spaces – including wall-mounted ones!


3. Weed regularly

Weeds are the enemy of keen gardeners everywhere. Just like every other plant, they need water and nutrients from the soil to survive. So, if you don’t tackle that tangle of weeds around your borders and beds, they’ll compete with your plants for water and leave them starving.


You don’t need to splash out on expensive weed killers – pulling weeds before they grow out of control is one of the easiest ways to protect your garden from invasive species. It can be easier to do this after it’s rained when the soil is a bit soggy.


4. Make the most of mulching

Mulch is one of the best ways to help your soil retain moisture. Not only does it help to prevent evaporation, but it also often helps to stop weeds growing (if you’ve pre-weeded the area and laid down a thick enough layer) and adds vital nutrients to your soil.


You can buy pre-made organic mulch, or you can make it yourself with things like fallen leaves, straw, leftover grass cuttings, chopped-up tree branches, compost and pine needles. Here’s how to make the most of mulch:


  • Trees: Use your lawnmower to shred fallen leaves to create a nutrient-rich mulch for free
  • Flowers: Wood chips or shredded leaves are perfect for flowerbeds and shrub borders
  • Vegetables: Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen, making them great for your veggie patch. You can also try straw, but be careful not to pile it too high around your plants


5. Water at the right time

Did you know that watering your plants at the right time can promote plant growth? Most of the time, watering early in the morning or late in the evening is your best bet because it’s cooler and less windy outside. This means the water’s more likely to soak deep into the soil rather than evaporating quickly.


As lots of things can affect evaporation, from the type of soil and amount of mulch to the size or type of pot, you’re best not to follow a regular schedule (e.g. watering at 8am, three times a week). Instead, only water thoroughly when the soil needs it. If you’re not sure, check if the soil feels dry by sticking your finger in a couple of inches.


6. Choose water-wise plants

Want a low-maintenance garden that still looks beautiful? Choose plants that need less water to thrive. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Lavender
  • Dahlias
  • Asters
  • Rosemary
  • Scented geraniums
  • Hybrid musk roses
  • Buddleias


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1 Comment

Hello all, I'm a gardener and teacher from Tunbridge Wells. My class is doing their homework project calculating the amount of water supply for gardening and small greenhouses. What are the alternative apps to measure the amount of saved water?


Urs Bucher, school teacher >