How to keep your garden healthy during a hosepipe ban

Martyn Cox / 05 April 2012

Hosepipe bans affecting 20 million people have been introduced following an exceptionally dry winter which has left many reservoirs and other water supplies parched

But there’s no need to start panicking about how you will prevent your plants from dehydrating or your lawn from turning a crispy shade of brown - there are plenty of waterwise tips and tricks you can use to keep your garden healthy.

Saving water

If you haven’t got one, install a water butt. These are dead easy to attach to the downpipes of a house or any outdoor building – shed, greenhouse, summer house or office – as long as they have a guttering system in place. Available in many different shapes, sizes and styles they can store anything from 100 litres to 1500 litres of rainwater. If you have the space, you could even link several water butts together with a connecting kit so you have an even greater capacity of water to fall back on if a hosepipe ban is introduced.

Re-using water

Known as grey water, waste water from your sink, shower and washing machine can be collected and used in the garden. At its most basic, you could simply reuse a bowlful of water used for washing the dishes. However, for those wanting something more sophisticated, fix up a diversion kit to channel water outdoors or even have a special collection and storage system installed by experts. As grey water can contain harmful detergents, try to replace traditional products with environmentally friendly ones. As a further precaution, dilute grey water with main’s or rainwater before using, and avoid using on edible plants.

Effective watering

Don’t waste water with poor technique. Soak the area beneath the plant’s canopy to encourage the growth of longer roots, which will search for moisture deeper underground – sprinkling the surface lightly results in roots developing near the surface, making plants more susceptible to drought.

Water in the evening or early morning, when the weather is cooler. This will give plants plenty of time to soak up moisture, rather than it evaporating quickly in the heat of the sun.


Cover your soil with a 5cm layer of composted bark, garden compost, bark chippings or another mulch material. This will help to lock in moisture, prevent weeds from growing and competing for moisture, and keep roots cool. Apply after watering and not when the soil is dry. Remember to leave a gap around the stems of plants as mulches can cause bark to soften, making plants vulnerable to disease.


Longer grass deals better with drought, so raise the blades of your lawnmower to a higher setting and mow less frequently. Make sure the blades of your mower are sharp – blunt edges rip blades of grass apart, leaving a large surface area exposed that will lead to a greater loss of moisture.

Drought-tolerant plants

Some plants are naturally tolerant of drought, so include a few in pots and planting schemes. Among the best are red hot pokers, bearded iris, agapanthus, Verbena bonariensis, fennel, sage, pelargonium, cistus, Oriental poppy and lavender. Tender cacti and succulents look great in containers outdoors over summer.

Would you shop your neighbour if you saw them using a hosepipe during the ban? Let us know on Saga Zone forums.

For more water saving tips visit our Environment forum

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.