Like many of us, I’ve been finding the recent heatwave way too hot and dry. And yes, that “many of us” does include the plants in your garden.
While no, you can’t capture thunderstorms (annoyingly), there is one thing you can do while it’s raining to care for your garden in the long run.
Rainwater is significantly better for your plants than water from the tap. So, we’re here to explain why that is and how you can collect enough rainwater to ensure a year-round supply to your garden.
What’s so special about rainwater?
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says that rainwater is better for your garden than regular water for a number of reasons.
Firstly, rainwater has a lower pH. “The minerals that are sometimes found in mains water, especially in hard water areas can raise the pH of your root zone, which can affect the nutrient availability,” says the RHS.
The slightly acidic nature of rainwater means that the good stuff hidden in it is easier for your plants to access than what you could offer from the mains.
And while yes, the water from your tap is technically cleaner, your plants really don’t care about a bit of dirt. In fact, the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA) reckons that a little grime in your water works “like a light application of fertiliser every time you water”.
Oh, and remember those soil-friendly lightning nitrates we were talking about earlier? Yeah, those are present in rain too. And while most forms of nitrogen, which is crucial for soil and plant health, aren’t easily absorbed by greenery, nitrates found in rain are incredibly easy for your flowers to process.
No wonder lawns look (and smell) so stunning after rainfall, right?
OK, so how can I store the rain?
Water butts are a great option for gardeners. They work by diverting the water from your drains and gutters into a massive (hosepipe ban-safe) barrel that many gardeners reckon easily lasts them throughout the year.
They usually have a tap on the bottom, so it’s smart to put the barrel on a stand. Aside from helping you to water your plants throughout the year, water butts can also help you to control the moisture levels around the foundation of your home. Of course, they’re way more water-efficient than just using tap water, too.
If you can’t get your hands on a water butt, the RHS recommends adding mulch around new plants to keep the existing moisture in your soil longer and placing drip trays beneath plant pots.
Whatever you do, though, try not to let that sweet, sweet rainfall go to waste...