Water conservation

saving water in the garden

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Water Conservation


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Saving Water

With another summer in the UK of newspaper headlines screaming about drought alerts, this is a topical subject. However the situation is broader than simply ordering a hosepipe ban, and climate change may well make it a long term issue. So how can the gardener help?

Firstly plants themselves both hold water and prevent evaporation from the soil, so it goes without saying that a fully planted area is better than hard paving. Adding a good layer of mulch also helps in retaining the moisture content of the soil.

Where you do pave your garden, permeable materials assist water to percolate into the ground rather than run-off into the drains -something as simple as pavings bedded in sand, rather than tarmacadam, makes a substantial difference in reducing run-off.

Water from roofs can be collected and stored in rainwater butts for garden irrigation, and if you use a hosepipe, then evening watering reduces evaporation and gives the water chance to percolate deeper. Similarly if you can find a way to divert bathwater with a recycling valve, then this too can be used for irrigation. If you live in a rural situation and have a large garden, you might investigate the use of reed beds for purification of waste water from the house.

Anyone designing a larger garden could incorporate SUDS -Sustainable Drainage Systems. This is where landscape features such as rheins are used as temporary holding ponds in the event of heavy rainfall. This prevents the drainage system from becoming overloaded and again allows a greater proportion of rainwater to percolate into the soil.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a stream or river in the garden, consider adding a small hydro-electric generator to serve your electricity needs -you will need permission from the river authority and have to take steps to protect wildlife, but none theless it can be a valuable way of meeting your energy needs.

Further Information

  • Elemental Solutions -sustainable water and energy consultancy run by Nick Grant in Hereford. He offers strategic and detailed design to Passivhaus and AECB energy and water standards, water efficiency advice and detailed design of low impact wastewater treatment systems.
  • Leaky Pipe -porous, recycled rubber hoses and irrigation equipment for the watering of horticultural, landscape, garden, and equine situations.
  • Robert Bray Associates -leading consultancy on Sustainable Drainage Systems used as a means to deal with surface water runoff.
  • Suffolk Barrel -traditional handmade barrels and water butts, along with cast iron village pumps.
  • Water-butt.com -exactly as the name says -just a huge range of rainwater butts, both above and below ground.

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Featured books:

The Low-water No-water Garden: Gardening for Drought and Heat the Mediterranean Way - A Practical Guide with 500 Stunning Colour Photographs
Pattie Barron
Paperback -Sep 2008
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The Dry Gardening Handbook: Plants and Practices for a Changing Climate
Olivier Filippi
Hardcover -Aug 2008
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Rain Gardens: Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape
Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden
Hardcover -May 2007
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