UK Gardeners Warned To Stop Using This Watering Technique ASAP

I'm guilty of this. Are you?
Aleksandr Zubkov via Getty Images

It’s hard to pick what I dislike most about this heatwave. It might be the wild dreams; it might be the ‘heatwave belly’ bloating; it might just be that sticky, exhausting feeling of being way too hot all the time.

But if you’ve got a garden, your gripes might also include dry, charred-looking lawns and wilting flowers.

There are lots of watering rules to follow in a heatwave, including not hydrating your hydrangeas in the middle of the day and making sure you don’t over-mow while it’s hot out. But now it appears there’s another rule to follow; Monty Don of BBC Gardener’s World has warned against using a hosepipe in the heatwave.

The suggestion comes as hosepipe bans remain in Kent and Sussex. And with temperatures set to stay high this summer, we reckon the warnings could spread across the country.

So we thought we’d share the reasons why you should pack away the pipe – and suggestions as to how you can water your lawn without one.

What’s so wrong with hosepipes?

Well let’s be honest with ourselves here – they aren’t going to ruin your lawn.

But what they can do is waste water, provide your plants with less-than-optimal hydration, and can even encourage shallow root growth (yes, really).

As the Tameside Metropolitan Borough says, “The average hosepipe uses 170 litres of water for every 10 minutes that it is turned on. That’s almost 19 flushes of a toilet in just 10 minutes.”

They add that the design of the hosepipe is not optimal for irrigating your lawn. The sprinkler-style nozzle of a watering can means it’s easier to control, and can distribute water more evenly, than a hose – making getting water to the roots easier.

On top of all that, your plants much prefer rainwater to the stuff straight from the taps – so there’s no need to waste clean drinking water on your garden.

OK, so what can I do instead of using a hose?

As we mentioned above, your plants love rainwater. And while you can’t exactly summon a rain God at will, you can nab yourself a water butt, which collects all the runoff from your drains for watering throughout the year.

The good news continues – you can even get yourself a free water butt from South West Water if you’re eligible (enter your postcode here to see if you can get yourself a freebie).

But if you don’t have the space for a water butt or just want something you can use ASAP, Monty Don recommends using grey water when you’re in a bind.

This is the water that’s left behind in your sink after you’ve washed the dishes. And no, it’s not harmful to your lawn – the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says that “Plants can be watered with shower, bath, kitchen and washing machine water (from rinse cycles), collectively referred to as ‘grey’ water.”

“It varies in quality and may contain contaminants such as soap and detergent. Fortunately, soil and potting composts are effective at filtering them out, and the residues can sometimes act as a mild fertiliser,” they add.

Other ways to reduce your water consumption during a heatwave include:

  • Adding mulch to your garden
  • Sealing terracotta plant pots
  • Gardening at cooler temps, so your water doesn’t evaporate