It bodes worryingly for the growing season, and water restrictions across southern and eastern England are a black cloud on the horizon – although not of the right kind.Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East have all announced restrictions, including a hosepipe ban, to come into effect on April 5.Plants in the ground can sink their roots deeper in search of water at times of drought, but those in pots are entirely dependent on you. - Make life easier by starting off with generous-sized pots: small pots heat up quickly and dry out quickly, so go as big as you can afford. When soaked, they swell up and then slowly release water. - Mulch the surface of pots with something decorative, such as slate paddlestones.It looks good, keeps the compost cool and cuts down evaporation from the surface.- Plant thirsty plants, such as courgettes, into a dip so that water runs down towards the roots and collects. - Water deeply and infrequently, rather than little and often.A lack of water sends young roots searching deep down into the soil, where they will find reserves of moisture and be more self-sufficient. I’d say an alarmingly dry winter, except that I’ve loved it: the soggy end of my garden hasn’t turned into a bog, I’ve only once been rained off at the allotment, and I’ve very seldom walked across the plot and had my wellies instantly transformed into mud-soled platform boots.Delightful as this has been, there is always a price to pay for climate extremity.
- Water seedlings for a week or two after they go into the ground, after that they should be able to fend for themselves, except in severely hot and dry spells. In the middle of the day, water evaporates before it has had a chance to seep into the ground.
Take a more laid-back approach to your lawn and it will look after itself. Lawn grasses stop growing during drought, but they don’t die.
Come the next rains, growth kicks in and they green up again. Shaggier turf creates its own shading and retains moisture more efficiently.
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You need to be particularly careful to minimise water use here.