Watering your garden during hot weather without a hose can initially seem to be quite a challenge. However, we have some tips on how to look after your garden responsibly during these trying times.
First of all, if you have trees, shrubs or herbaceous plants in your garden that have been planted for more than a year then , in all probability, they will not need you to water them . they will have already put roots down deep enough into the soil to sustain themselves. The plants we need to look out for are shallow ones such as bedding plants, vegetables and anything growing in a container be it a hanging basket or a pot. So how do you keep your plants watered without a hose? My first port of call would be a watering can. Ideally you want to water your plants from a water butt as the water is much purer and your plants will enjoy that more than tap water. However, if , like me, your water butts are running dry, then water from the tap is fine. Even better than tap water is grey water. This is the water you have already used for another purpose. Bath water and dish washing up water are good examples of grey water. By using grey water you are helping protect valuable water resources whilst still keeping your plants alive and happy - and don't forget to focus on those new plants, vegetables and your pots and containers as they are most vulnerable. When watering your vegetables with grey water try not to use water that is too fatty as this can taint your crop with an oily flavour!
When watering your plants it's very important to give them plenty of water each time rather than a little bit often. You want that water to soak deep into the soil so that the roots chase it down. If you water little and often, the roots will make their way to the surface looking for the water which will lead to a shallow rooting plant that is far more susceptible to drying out in future.
Timing of watering is also key. Watering in the evening is far more beneficial for your plants as less will be lost in evaporation than it would be in the morning or heat of the day.
Don't water your lawn. You will use a lot of watering cans walking back and forth and whilst the grass looks brown, it has an amazing habit of bouncing back after the first rainfall. If you can, stay off your lawn as this could damage it and certainly don't mow it. In future, if a dry period is forecast it is good practice to leave your lawn to grow higher, as taller grass stays looking green for longer. As long as we get some rain in Autumn, feed it with some Autumn lawn feed as this nourishes the roots making your lawn more able to withstand periods of drought in future.
To summarise, use a watering can to water your plants, preferably using grey water. Soak your plants very well so that the roots chase the water down and water in the evening to reduce water loss through evaporation. Focus on plants in containers, vegetables and newly planted shrubs, trees and perennials. Don't waste time watering established plants or your lawn.
Finally we should remember that whilst this type of weather is forecast to be more prevalent, as gardeners we are rarely happy with the weather. Enjoy the sun and take time to relax in your garden - you just know that in a couple of months we’ll all be complaining about the rain again!