How to care for your garden in drought conditions...

How to care for your garden in drought conditions...

Even though the long awaited rain has arrived, your garden may be in need of a little more help.  Here's some watering advice from Jo, our Garden Project Manager. 

It comes as no surprise that in times of drought, our plants need some extra attention to thrive. We thought it would be useful therefore to put together a few lines of guidance to help prevent plant damage and losses.

The advice given below is what we should be aiming for, however, we need to bear in mind that water is a precious resource. Some water companies have recently announced hosepipe bans, and it is expected that many more will follow. Hospices should write to their water company to clarify the exemptions in place for their specific region, but we would recommend not using a hosepipe if a ban is in place. In all cases, care should be taken to use water efficiently and conserve water where possible for environmental reasons, so hopefully the following tips should help us to achieve this.

How and when should we water?

Your watering regime will depend upon weather conditions, soil type, plant type, size, and position, but there are a few rules of thumb that can be followed as a starting point:

  • You can use any water carrying receptacle, but best practice would be to use a watering can with a rose attachment or a hose pipe with spray gun (but ensure the water goes only where needed to conserve water)
  • All plants will need watering in when planted, even if it’s been raining
  • Water late evening or early morning and avoid watering in full sun
  • Aim to water the stems / roots of the plant beneath the foliage and avoid watering the leaves
  • Water gradually to avoid water run-off
  • Water less frequently but deeply and thoroughly to enable the water to reach the plant root systems
  • As a rough guide, in the spring and summer months you could try out the following (and adjust as necessary):  
    • Established shrubs and trees (5 years +) should not normally need watering, but may do in times of drought
    • Lawns may also be left unwatered; brown patches usually recover in the autumn
    • Trees and shrubs under 5 years old may need watering
    • Trees and shrubs under two years old will need watering. Try once a week, leaving a hose on the base of the plant for 5-15 minutes, and review / adjust the watering regime if required. NB. It’s possible that immediately after planting, watering will need to be more frequent
    • Herbaceous plants will need watering more frequently; try 2-3 times a week, but possibly increase in times of drought
    • Plants in containers should be watered frequently, possibly daily during periods of drought
    • For containers and hanging baskets, try freezing a bottle of water and laying it on the surface of the soil in the morning to create your own DIY irrigation system!

Signs that your plants need more water

Prevention is obviously better than a cure, but it is normally obvious when a plant is being underwatered, e.g. wilting, slow rate of growth etc. For a great list of tell-tale signs, see the RHS website:

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