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Though the recent downpours have made the hosepipe ban enforced in some areas of the UK less of a dreaded issue, it’s going to take more than a few days of rain to restore water levels. In fact, the recent storms are a perfect reminder to make sure you’ve got comprehensive building insurance to protect against wet and windy hazards, as well as contents cover for your garden tools and other possessions. Then you can concentrate on tending to the garden without draining the water table. (If you dig deep into your soil, you’ll find that a few inches down, it’s pretty parched already – all that rain is simply running off the surface and draining away.)

Whatever the short-range weather forecast, we need to prepare for a long dry summer ahead, and even if you’re not in an area with a hosepipe ban, it’s good environmental practice to be economical with your water use. Don’t despair at the drought, and don’t let those dahlias dry out – take action to beat the hosepipe ban and keep your garden looking green. Here are ten tips to survive a scorching summer.

1.   Go down to the hardware shop and invest in the largest watering can you’re able to carry. A lightweight plastic can may not look the part in a traditional country cottage-style garden, but it will be easier to lug around than a heavy metal one.  
2.   Dig out any old plastic dustbins or large containers you may have in your shed or garage, and press them into service as water butts to collect rainwater – or buy a new butt in a suitable size.
3.   Diverting your downpipe from your house’s roof guttering and into your water butt is a simple task, with drainpipe converter kits available from most DIY superstores.  
4.  Target your watering. There’s no need to drench everywhere; check out what’s wilting or in need of extra moisture, and aim for its roots.
5.   Sinking a plastic pot or cut-off bottle into the earth next to something thirsty will help direct the water straight to where it’s wanted.
6.   Time your watering. There’s little point spraying everything in the heat of the midday sun, when droplets will simply evaporate: early morning or at night, allowing time for water to soak in, is best.
7.   Make some mulch. Dig in a layer of moisture-absorbing bark chippings or other organic matter around plants. Gravel may help retain moisture in pots.
8.   Waste not, want not. Besides investing in a water butt or two, save your household waste water – even your bathwater can be reused. Wash up into a bowl, and reuse that water too.
9.   Revise your aspirations. A perfectly green lawn may not be realistic – but it will recover, when it rains – so stow away the water-wasting sprinkler.
10.   Trying to keep tropical plants alive is also going to be hard work; think about drought-friendly and less thirsty alternatives, such as those which can survive a Mediterranean summer. Do your research – and read Beth Chatto’s classic book Gravel Garden, which is pretty much the set text for ‘dry gardening’ and a guide to working with nature, not against it. You can’t fight the climactic conditions.

There’s little you can do about a hosepipe ban, or indeed, the weather. But whatever nourishment you can provide for your garden is super, because on a grey day, it will provide a little bit of nourishment for your soul in return!

Issued by Sainsbury’s Bank
All information is correct at time of print, although it may be subject to some change. Any views or beliefs contained in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those held by Sainsbury’s Bank plc or the Sainsbury’s Group of Companies.