Be water wise
It’s no secret that the warmer weather is taking its toll on water supplies, but this doesn’t mean that your garden needs to suffer either. We have a few simple tips that will enable you to keep your garden looking at its best whilst using as little water as possible.
Buy a water butt
The easiest way to ensure that water is available for your garden is to buy a water butt to collect any rain water that falls. Whilst there’s no rain at the moment, once it does you’ll be prepared for the next dry spell. Water butts are easy to install in your garden; simply place it near to a down pipe in your garden and use the tools provided with most water butts to connect the down pipe into the water butt.
Generally speaking, most water butts have a tap on the front to fill a watering can (or similar) up, and you can even buy tap connectors in order to connect a hosepipe if you wish. Water butts are also available in a range of sizes, so there’s sure to be one that can fit in your garden. Water stored in a water butt is suitable for watering your garden or washing your car.
Check for leaks
Checking for leaks in your hosepipe or irrigation system takes moments, but can save a lot of water in the long run. To do this, simply connect to a water tap and turn on. Don’t worry, if you spot any water leaking, there’s no need to replace your hosepipe as you can repair it.
Whilst you can place tape over the area of the leak, this is only a temporary fix and you’ll often find that the water will still be leaking out slowly anyway. We recommend using a hosepipe connector to fully remove and re-seal any leaks you find. To do this, cut your hosepipe just before and after the area of the leak, then use the connector to re-join the two pieces of hosepipe. Quality connectors will grip the hosepipe properly and stop any leaks for the foreseeable future. If you have an expandable hose, you’ll need a special type of connector which are easily found.
You may also experience leaks between the tap and the hose, or the hose and the spray gun. If this is the case then you’ll need to replace your connector to stop this from happening. Connectors are widely available and are an inexpensive way to stop your hose from leaking.
Mulching is a simple and attractive way to help your plants better retain the water that you give them. Mulching involves placing a protective layer on top of the compost that surrounds your plants. Good protective layers include bark and gravel chippings, but things such as grit can also be used.
Once you’ve placed your chippings down, simply continue to water as normal. The chippings create a protective layer between the soil and the sun to prevent the water evaporating, meaning that your soil will remain moist.
Good soil preparation will enhance the water retention of your garden. Increasing the amount of water retaining matter in your garden by even just 1% drastically improves how much water your garden can retain. Following the steps below when planting anything new is best, but can also easily be done to any existing plants too.
The easiest way to do this is to buy soil improver/conditioner and mix it into your existing garden soil with a garden fork. These generally contain a mix of composted barks and farmyard manure or similar and are great at revitalising the soil, improving structure and improving moisture and nutrient retention too.
Soil improvers are best for sandy or heavy soil as it’s these types which are the worst at retaining moisture, but they will help with water retention in any soil type.
Other top tips
- When watering your plants, we recommend watering first thing in the morning, before it gets too warm. You may also find that you need to water in the evening as well. Don’t worry if your garden is looking a bit dry though, most plants can tolerate this and will soon bounce back.
- Use a watering can when watering your plants, instead of a hosepipe. This ensures that the water goes only where it is needed.
- Water your plants at their roots. Doing this increases the amount of water absorbed by the soil, as any water on leaves may evaporate before reaching the ground.
- If your plants are in pots, consider moving them into a more shady area in your garden. Bear in mind though that plants do benefit from sunlight as well, so only do this if you feel it necessary.
Monthly Garden Tasks
Gardening Tasks for April
Plant up your hanging basket now, but keep them inside until the risk of frost has passed.
How to plant a basket: Use a plastic liner and add drainage holes, then fill with multi-purpose compost mixed with perlite. Pop in your plants and water thoroughly, then keep in a warm and bright location protected from frost for the next couple of weeks.
Good flowers to use: Calibrachoa, Felicia amelloides, Pelargonium, Tiarella, Begonia, Verbena.
Seeds sown in February or March will need pricking out now.
How to prick out: Prepare your trays or pots by filling with multi-purpose compost, then level the surface and create a small hole in the middle for the seedlings. Afterwards, lift your seedlings from their original container and carefully place into the prepared tray. Lift only from the leaves, never from the stem or roots. Finally, firm the area around the seedlings, then water and place on a bright windowsill. Label your seedlings if you have different types or varieties.
Potatoes that have been chitting on a bright windowsill for the past few weeks will be ready to plant outside.
How to plant up your potatoes: Choose a container which will hold at least 40 litres of compost and offers good drainage. Fill the bottom with potting compost and a sprinkling of potato fertiliser. Then, earth up your tubers and evenly space three tubers on top of the compost and bury them with another layer of compost. As the stems and foliage grow, keep adding compost until the container is full.
Now is a great time to repot constricted houseplants into bigger pots.
How to repot and care for houseplants: Move the plant into a pot which is one size bigger than it’s current pot. This avoids roots sitting in wet compost, but still allows the plants to grow. Scrape off and replace the top layer of compost if your pots don’t need repotting. Cut off dead foliage back to a healthy bud or remove entire leaves. Finally, water often and feed every fortnight with a specialist feed suited your plants.
Get stakes and supports in early before plants grow further.
How to support plants: Perennials that are prone to flopping when they grow bigger need to be supported to avoid damage by bad weather and to ensure that they grow in the correct place. Buy plant support sticks, or use spare material that you have to hand, then simply push them into the soil in a circle around your plant to keep it supported. Taller plants such as sunflowers should be loosely attached to the support with soft twine to prevent flopping.
Other quick tasks to do this month:
- Feed roses with a specialist feed high in potassium
- Tidy lawn edges with a special edging tool or sharp spade
- Plant lily bulbs now for summer colour and scent
- Keep on top of weeds by weeding as soon as they appear
- Sow hardy annuals such as cosmos indoors ready for going outdoors