BLOG: 5 simple steps to save water in the garden

Our Senior Policy Manager Karen Gibbs loves nothing more than spending time in her treasured garden. And over the years she’s picked up some handy tips on how to use less water but still have a flourishing garden.

Here are Karen’s top five tips:

Water at the right time

It can be so tempting during hot weather to rush to water our plants having convinced ourselves that they will quickly wilt in the sweltering heat. But if you water plants too often their roots will remain shallow and weak. So before you make a dash for the watering can, check the soil a good few inches beneath the surface. If it’s still damp your plants don’t need watering; if it’s dry then it’s time for a drink.

Get to the root of the issue

‘Where’ is just as important as ‘when’, when it comes to watering plants and shrubs. Targeting around the roots will help to ensure the water goes exactly where it is needed, while helping to discourage the growth of weeds by keeping the surrounding soil dry. The most effective – although admittedly time-consuming – way to do this is by using a watering can that can more precisely target the roots.

Weed out those unwanted garden guests

hand wearing yellow glove weeding gardenIt’s the job even the most enthusiastic gardeners hate – weeding. But rooting out these unwelcome flower bedfellows will help to ensure your plants soak up the moisture and nutrients in your soil. If you’re having trouble getting to grips with weeds check out this Beginners Guide to Controlling Weeds by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Plant some drought-resistant flowers

Some flowers and plants thrive in hot conditions and need far less water to survive than others, making life a lot easier for gardeners. Thyme, evening primrose and rock rose are just a few examples of more drought-resistant plants that can still make an attractive addition to your garden. You’ll find a wider selection on the RHS website.

Invest in a water butt for rainy day savings

Ygarden water buttou might be surprised to learn that during the summer when there are peaks in demand up to 70 per cent of the tap water we use is for gardening – usually at weekends and holidays. This can put a huge strain on our water supplies and the rivers and natural environment it is sourced from. Given that over half of us now pay for our water on a metered basis it can also drain our finances.

Investing in a water butt means you can tap into a free, natural source of water all year round. The average house roof in the UK collects enough water to fill 450 water butts every year – so your supply is unlikely to dry up.

You’ll find more tips on saving water here


  1. Tiana says:

    Water is a really important element in our environment. We need to use that element properly. We should not waste this anyhow.
    Thanks for your good guide on saving water.

  2. Michelle Rushton says:

    Great article on saving water in the garden, lots of practical things us keen gardeners can do. One word of caution though… just be careful how you use the water from your garden butt. A recent study by Public Health England they estimated that around 95% of UK water butts were contaminated with Legionella bacteria, the bug responsible for the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease.

  3. kit says:

    I’ve got to the point where i am now emailing the CEO of Thames Water (following complaints procedures) for a horrific year of water supply. I would like to not have to completely rely on mains water and have been looking at Rainwater Harvesting for a while now but the prices are beyond budget for me at the moment. Are there any governmental schemes that could support me in looking at something for my house?

    • tclarke says:

      Hi – Unfortunately we’re not aware of any schemes that can help subsidise Rainwater Harvesting for domestic properties, at this stage. However, it might be worth contacting Waterwise for advice – this is more their area of expertise. You’ll find them at

      We’re really sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad time of things with Thames Water and your supply. You can always contact us for free advice and support, if you haven’t already – we’re on 0300 034 2222

  4. Lynne harper says:

    I know that hose pipe ban has not yet started but we have a neighbour who 2 or 3 times a week leaves his hose running for over an hour just watering a small area of front garden. Today 11/5/2017 his hose pipe has been left running since 2.00pm today again in a small area of front garden finally stopped at 6.00pm. Is there a limit/time for this kind of usage. Awaiting your response. Thank you

    • CCWater says:

      Hi – the short answer to your question is no. Water companies cannot enforce a limit on customers for hosepipes unless it does happen to be a period of drought restrictions. At this stage, no water companies are planning to introduce temporary restrictions. That could change in the coming months, depending on the amount of rainfall we have.
      You clearly have a strong sense of the need to use water wisely but the water industry, and CCWater, need to get that message across more effectively to people like your neighbour. Our water supplies are coming under increasing pressure from climate change and population growth so we need to use water wisely all year round, whatever the weather.

  5. Jae Lester says:

    A 200l water butt is just a few watering cans before it runs dry. ( During stormy weather they also frequently overflow which can be detrimental to masonry.)
    At Rainwater Harvesting we supply above and below ground water tanks that make a real contribution to water saving.

    • Jane Kearney says:

      Most watering cans are 7.5L. That’s quite a lot of watering cans before running dry….

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