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At this time of year, the hot dry weather is pretty difficult to ignore! All over the UK people are taking advantage of the sunshine, and with these conditions forecast for the rest of July at least we seem to be set for a scorching summer.

However, as nice as the weather is, heavy sunshine can cause plenty of potential problems for gardeners. Sunlight is certainly healthy for plants, but too much of it can cause greens to wither and dry out. Worse yet, without a period of sustained rainfall to replenish our reservoirs, certain parts of the UK are having to deal with an emergency resort: hosepipe bans.

During a serious drought, water companies will often impose bans like this in order to restrict the use of water for non-essential purposes. Sadly, this almost always extends to watering private gardens with hosepipes or sprinklers, putting even well established plants in danger.

Luckily, by trying out a few tried and tested tricks it is EASY to minimise the impact of the hosepipe ban on your garden.

For expert help on keeping your garden healthy, it will be best to book a consultation with a local gardener. They can provide a professional garden maintenance service if things get out of hand or, if necessary, recommend more drought-proof plants to replace anything you lose. Remember, immediately swapping out dead plants for exact replacements will usually leave you with the same problems. Why not treat this as a chance to redesign your garden for the summer?

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What is the hosepipe ban?

During a heatwave, the UK gets a great deal of sunshine and little rainfall. Over time this can have a serious impact on our water levels, causing supplies to dwindle and reservoirs to dry up (you may have already seen this on the news!)

With water being such an essential resource, droughts will often drive suppliers to restrict its usage. Water companies will usually do this by issuing a ‘hosepipe ban’, limiting the use of water for non-essential purposes. 

While we are sure this makes them enormously grateful to customers, it is not an entirely one-sided deal: most of the time, customers will enjoy a reduced water bill the following year in order to offset the restricted usage.

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How does the hosepipe ban affect me?

You will be glad to know that the hosepipe ban is not nationwide. Instead, it is up to individual water companies to decide on if, when and how to impose a ban.

A single policy can easily effect over a million people, so it is important to remain informed in case your home is affected. While it is certainly important to do your part so that we have enough water for the essentials, you should also know that water companies can impose fines of over £1,000 to those who ignore restrictions.

In short, your plants aren’t the only green you could lose out on!

Hosepipe bans have already been introduced in the north west of England and Northern Ireland. With forecasters expecting hot weather for the rest of July at least, millions of people are already feeling the impact of losing the water they use for private gardens and washing. 

It is important to keep in mind that because there is no single blanket hosepipe ban, individual examples can differ in terms of policy. However, there are a few common rules which those affected can expect at this time:

  • Using a hose to wash private vehicles including cars, taxis and boats
  • Filling or topping up swimming pools, water features or ponds (apart from those which support fish)
  • Using excessive water for gardening. This usually restricts the use of sprinklers, irrigation systems and, of course, hoses
  • Cleaning outside surfaces such as windows, patios, paths, walls and garden furniture

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How can I take care of my garden during the hosepipe ban?

While the hosepipe ban may restrict wasteful watering, there are still a number of ways for you to keep your plants healthy. At the very least you can minimise the damage of the drought, so that your garden can bounce back once the ban ends.

If you want the kind of advice that only comes from a wealth of experience it will be best to speak to a local gardener. As well as helping you to care for the plants you already have, they can also suggest hardier drought-resistant varieties if you need to make any replacements.

  • The lawn - Without regular watering your grass can quickly become brown and blotchy. Do not worry too much, as a lawn will usually recover quickly once watering resumes. In the meantime, you can start mowing less frequently and with higher blades. This should help reduce the stress on your grass
  • Mulch - By adding organic matter to your soil you can make it better-able to retain water while also boosting the general health of your plants
  • Trickle-watering - A watering can can hydrate your plants just as effectively as a hose or sprinkler. While you should not water as frequently, make sure that you are thorough when you do, watering your plants right down to the roots
  • Night-gardening - When you water your garden during the day, a great deal of the moisture can evaporate before your plants have a chance to soak it up. Instead, give your plants a drink in the evening
  • Waste not - We use plenty of water for washing up and cooking. Instead of letting this go down the drain, save it in a bucket for use in your garden. You could also leave a vat outside to collect rainwater when it comes
  • Create shade - Another way to help your plants fight the drought will be to keep them out of direct sunlight. Move any pots, containers or beds to shaded areas if possible. You can also set up shade for established beds using umbrellas, windbreaks or even a cantilever
  • Drought-proof plants - Certain plant varieties can survive with minimal watering. These include geraniums, agave, cacti and so on. Again, it will be a good idea to ask a local gardener for advice. For example, certain plants may require different soil conditions