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2018 has been a scorcher across the U.K. Many of us have gardens that have been affected by the heat and our lawns are looking the worst ever for quite a long time. May be this is the time to start thinking about collecting and storing water should we have the same heat wave again next year? Making small changes to gardens and out buildings can significantly help during those key 18 weeks from May to September when our plants need water that exceeds our average rainfall to thrive. The plants take their first reserve from the land, from the soil and borders but by July these resources are in general used up and the following six weeks leading up to September will require you to water to maintain their necessary levels. Most water would be collected in winter and Chris Jackson fully qualified horticulturist and gardener in Bradford, West Yorkshire is sharing tips and solutions for next years watering crisis should we have one.
Every year, even in the driest regions of Britain an average roof can provide you with enough rain water to fill 150 water butts (over 5,000 gallons and approximately 25,000 litres of water). But because this falls mainly in winter it’s the storage that becomes a problem. About ‘Grey Water’ If you are not familiar with the term Four Season Garden Maintenance will explain. ‘Grey Water’ is domestic waste water. You can use grey water on your garden. This could be from your kitchen, your bath, sinks, washing machines and showers. Water from the toilet or a septic tank is known as ‘Black Water’ and should never be used on your garden.
As a rule the detergents and soaps we use around the home are not harmful to plants. But, if your water contains other products such as salt from the dishwasher, bleach, types of strong cleaning products or disinfectants you should not use them. They can be detrimental to the plants and even long term to your soil. As a gardener Chris Jackson also recommends that you never store your ‘Grey Water’ as it will quickly turn stagnant and smell, not to mention the possibility of the build up of bacteria and other residues that become harmful and damaging. So, as a rule Four Season Garden Maintenance use grey water as it is produced and never store it. Another ‘Top Tip’ about grey water said Bradford gardener Chris Jackson is to make sure you alternate using your grey water with your rainwater supply and your mains supply. This will definitely prevent any nasty surprises of build up or disease and bacteria. You can also be more vigilant with the household soaps and washing detergents. We have a much broader selection in supermarkets these days and you can look for products that are kinder to the environment. About collecting rainwater Even if you have a very small garden you can manage to conserve rain water. It is surprising how far water goes when you swap to a watering can. Although much more time consuming it is great to have a back up plan during a hosepipe and sprinkler ban, saving yourself a £1000 fine. Four Season Garden Maintenance say that as long as you have gutters and drainpipes from your roofs you can collect rainwater. If you survey your garden look at your garages, greenhouses, conservatories and your main house roof. All of these can provide a rainwater source.
Many of the discount stores are now tapping in to peoples interests in becoming more eco-friendly and are selling water butts at very good prices. Stores like Aldi, Home Bargains, B and M, and Wilkinson’s sell water butts at good prices but if your wanting something a bit fancier or larger you may be best visiting your local garden centre. Another great tip if you are passionate about recycling is try some of the free sites such as the Freeycle Network, Gumtree Freebies, Freegle, and Preloved all of which offer things for free or a small charge. FaceBook Marketplace Groups are another great resource for getting cheap things for your garden. Some local counsels also sell water butts on their websites and their delivery is quite quick. Water butts can collect your rainwater from your drainpipes by simply placing the water butt under the down pipe. If this is not possible Chris Jackson said when he is helping his customers in their Bradford gardens to become more efficient with water he suggest buying a Rainwater Diverter Kit that is really easy to fit and will tap in to any closed drainpipe. Kits are usually priced between £6 and £10. Whether you are using specific water butts or empty bins and drums you must make sure you give them a good clean at least once a year. This will prevent disease and it helps to keep your water fresher if you can rotate them.
Four Season Garden Maintenance do not use rainwater to water their seedlings or cuttings as they are at their most susceptible to disease and mains water will ensure they get a good start. When installing a water butt you need to think about accessing the water. It is a good idea to build a base from blocks or piles of bricks so that the tap is higher enough to get a bucket under. Many shop bought versions have ready-made stands, this is something to consider particularly if you have difficulty with bending or your mobility. Should you need more tips or help on the subject of collecting rainwater we can suggest www.ukrma.org which is the UK Rainwater Management Association and they can advise you on purchasing and installing rainwater harvesting systems large or small.
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