But hopes of the Thrive gardens getting a much-needed deluge last week didn’t last long as the showers fizzled out faster than you can say umbrella.
So, while the dry spell continues and nature holds back on the rain, gardeners will need to refresh their plants with watering. Here are 9 tips for getting the most out of every precious drop of water.
Is it needed?
The soil might be dry on the surface but is it underneath? Delve a bit deeper and if you find it’s damp, then don’t waste your water.
Time it right
Watering early in the morning or late in the evening avoids the heat of the day and will help prevent evaporation. Remember that windy weather also aids evaporation.
Be precise with your watering and target the roots, that’s where the plant needs the moisture most. Avoiding water on the leaves also reduces the risk of them becoming scorched by the sun.
Count to 20
A good soaking every so often is better than a light daily sprinkling. Giving your plants a 20 second dousing will push water deep into the soil and help roots grow deeper and stronger.
Have some bottle
Plastic bottles can be recycled to irrigate plants. Cut off the bottom of the bottle, make holes in the lid and half bury it close to the roots. Once filled with water, it’ll gradually refresh the plant.
Every year, 24,000 litres of rainwater could be collected from your roof, so having water butts strategically placed to collect it makes money-saving sense. Rainwater has some acid content which is ideal for most plants. Plus, water stored in butts will be warmer than mains water which can shock root systems in warm soil.
Keep on top of weeds
By removing weeds, you stop them taking water that your plants need. Use your hoe regularly to keep them in check. Hoeing keeps the soil crumbly, allowing water to soak in more easily to nourish the roots.
Moisture in your soil can be conserved by mulching. First make sure the soil is moist and then that the mulch is deep enough (at least 5cms). Using mulch will not only retain moisture but feed the soil and help keep weeds down.
Pick plants that can cope
As our climate changes, it could pay to think about having plants that are better able to cope with prolonged dry spells. Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Lavender, Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears), and Verbena bonariensis (pictured below) are among plants that can adapt to drought.