Alternative plantingEnvironment Agency wants water-saving gardens

14 April 2006

A watering can

Gardeners are being urged to spend less time trying to look for loopholes in hosepipe bans and instead invest in drought-tolerant plants.

The Environment Agency says people should think about what plants, trees and shrubs can survive in drier conditions, particularly as the south-east of England could soon suffer its most serious drought for 100 years.

Some plant flowers and shrubs that thrive in hot and dry conditions and are best suited to poor, free-draining soils include lavender, buddleia (butterfly bush), Californian poppy, red hot poker, evening primrose and many herbs.

Wood chips suppress weeds

Mulches such as wood chips, bark and gravel help to prevent water evaporation and also suppress weeds, saving both water and time spent weeding.

Baroness Young, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said 'We're a nation of gardeners but during hot weather, garden watering can account for more than half of our total household water use.

'We shouldn't be looking for loopholes in the hosepipe and other bans. We should be finding ways to save water and care for the environment irrespective of what the regulations require of us.'

Water companies warn of drought measures

Water companies have already warned that supplies to thousands of homes across the south-east of England could be switched off this summer if the drought worsens and usage continues at the current rate.

Hosepipe and sprinkler bans are already in place in some areas, and many reservoirs and rivers are seriously depleted.

Water companies say that standpipes or water tanks are a last resort in a serious drought and much will depend on how much rain falls in the next couple of months, how much water people use and how hot and dry it is this summer.