When the sun comes out there's no better place to be than the garden, and lots of us enjoy making the most of the good weather to give our flowerbeds a bit of much needed TLC. However, in the attempt to get everything looking lush and green it can be easy to get carried away and lose track of just how much water we're using. While we're constantly being told useful water-saving tips for inside the home, it's easy to forget that there are also lots of ways to save water outside without your garden plants looking any the worse for it.
While it's true that most of the planet is made up of water, in reality only a limited amount of this is fresh water which is suitable for human use, with the majority locked away in glaciers or polar ice caps. Taking steps to save water, not just in hot weather but all year round, helps not only to protect against future droughts but also to conserve this precious resource for future generations. What's more, if you're on a water meter it could also help to keep down those monthly bills!
One of the greatest outdoor guzzlers of water are sprinklers, which can use up to 1000 litres of water per hour - that's more than a family of four uses in a whole day! If you really have to use sprinklers, try to time them to come on early in the morning or at night, when evaporation rates are lowest. A much more water-efficient alternative to sprinklers is the traditional watering can, which allow you to direct water to where it's really needed - the roots. If you choose to use a hosepipe instead, or when washing the car, the addition of a trigger nozzle can halve the amount of water used.
When taking a bath or washing clothes, why not consider reusing the waste or "grey" water in your garden? Simply move the water in buckets or, alternatively, ask a competent plumber to install a special outlet pipe. While grey water is fine for the purpose of watering plants, experts warn against using it on fruits or vegetables due to the likely presence of detergents or other chemicals in the water. Research by the Environment Agency indicates that people who reuse their grey water can slash their water meters figures by up to 5%!
Another approach to outdoor water conservation is reducing the amount of water your garden needs in the first place. One way to do this is by laying down mulch - a layer made from natural materials such as chipped bark or straw, placed over the soil to prevent it drying out through evaporation. It also has the added bonus of preventing weeds from sprouting up! Another simple tip is to plant drought-resistant plants such as Echinacea flowers, that are much less thirsty than other types of greenery. In particular, plants such as tomatoes and courgettes need a lot of watering, so if you're into growing your own fruit and veg try to balance these varieties out with those than can survive without a regular drink.
If you decide to up your water saving efforts with the installation of a grey water outlet pipe, remember to get the right person for the task. Otherwise you may find the money you've saved on your water bills outweighed in the long run, trying to amend a botched job. Find a Quality Plumber in your local area at http://www.aphc.co.uk/find_an_installer.asp.