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Water Conservation and Water Butts

Posted by David Domoney, on May 2, 2022.

Watering the garden can be a big task, and through spring and summer there are more flowers, fruits and vegetables to keep on top of when it comes to adding moisture. But rather than relying on tap water, making the most out of natural resources is ideal. In the UK, we can count on a few rainy days to supply up with plenty of rainfall to regularly top up our water butts to conserve water.

More to store

Water butts are storage barrels that are connected to drainpipes on your home, greenhouse, or shed, to collect rainwater. The rainwater that is collected can then be used by filling up the watering can using the tap at the base of the structure.

They can be pretty as well as practical. Water butts don’t just need to be a dull way to collect water, instead choose a design that complements your garden style. In a Mediterranean style garden, the Antique Amphora is available in terracotta or dark granite for a rustic and charming addition. Alternatively, for a sleek, contemporary garden the smooth finish of the Stone Water Tank brings more of a modern take on a classic water butt.

Plant it up

One of the delightful things about Garantia’s range of water butts is that they offer another opportunity to plant. There is a planter section at the top of the storage tank, the perfect space to spruce up the structure even more.

When planting up a container for any season, I like to mix a few elements together to get the best combination. Bringing together evergreen foliage, seasonal flowers, fragrance and texture is what makes a great arrangement.

For example, for a spring to summer container, make dahlias the star of the show. ‘Bishop of Oxford’ has stunning orange-red flowers for deep, vibrant colour. Deadhead the flowers regularly to encourage new growth and repeat flowering. Pair this with the evergreen Thymus praecox (white flowered thyme) ‘Albiflorus’ that will trail down the front of the water butt. Not only will it add cascading effect, but it’ll bring fragrance too. Finish the container with Salvia nemorosa (meadow sage) ‘Caradonna’ which also has aromatic foliage and has attractive seedheads after flowering.

Water wisely

Conserving rainwater helps to save water as there is less reliance on the main supply. Natural rainwater is the best source of water for plants and compared to tap water it can benefit some plants slightly more than others. Ericaceous plants such as heather cannot tolerate the lime often found in our running water from the tap, so rainwater is an ideal option.

When it comes to watering the garden, there are some things to consider before getting the hose out. To reduce water waste, relying on conserved rainwater is the best option, however even this resource should be used with care so you can make the most of it.

The first thing to do is only water when necessary. If you are looking to water your lawn, step on it and see if it springs back up. If it does, your grass doesn’t need watering so it will be fine for another couple of days. Another tip with retaining moisture in your lawn is to leave the grass slightly longer when mowing.

Choosing the water in early morning or evening when there is little wind is better than watering the garden during the middle of the day when the sun is high and shining. Doing it during hot weather will make the moisture evaporate from the soil before the plants get chance to access it.

More moisture

As well as conserving water, there are other steps you can take to make the most of moisture in the garden. Using a protective mulch on beds and borders is a great way of retaining moisture. Biodegradable mulches like organic compost and bark chips will reduce water evaporation, insulate the soil during autumn and winter and also help to suppress weeds.

One of the key things when watering is to water deeply and well to give the soil a real soak. Watering a small amount will lead to the water running off the top, rather than penetrating the soil properly, meaning the roots aren’t effectively being watered.

Be kind to your garden and wallet by conserving water to give your plants the moisture they need. With so many water butts to choose from, there is one to suit your garden style and size.