When the UK experiences long periods of time with no rain and a lot of heat, towns become at risk of running out of water. To prevent this from happening, local water companies may decide to put a hosepipe ban in place. The hosepipe ban may have different rules for different areas, so if you live in an area where a ban has been implemented, you can check the definitive rules on your water supplier’s website on what you can and can’t do.
What is a hosepipe ban?
Hosepipe bans temporarily restrict the use of hosepipes for certain uses while water levels recover and the demand for water decreases. For every 10 minutes that a water pipe is turned on, 170 litres of water is used. That’s equivalent to almost 19 flushes of the toilet. With hosepipes using over a thousand litres of water per hour (which is equivalent to what a family of 4 uses in 1 week), it’s, therefore, necessary to implement a hosepipe ban when the water levels are running low.
During a hosepipe ban you may experience restrictions on:
- Watering your garden or plants at domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe or sprinkler
- Cleaning your personal vehicle using a hosepipe
- Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool
- Drawing water for recreational use using a hosepipe
- Filling a domestic pond using a hosepipe
- Cleaning paths, patios or other outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe
- Filling an ornamental fountain using a hosepipe
Alternative solutions for watering your garden
Despite the ban, your garden doesn’t need to go thirsty. Instead, there are alternative solutions for watering your garden during a hosepipe ban.
Filling up your watering can, or another container is an effective way to water your garden without a hosepipe. However, this may be time-consuming and heavy, especially if you have a large garden.
If you want to be extra cautious during the water shortage, using domestic water (also known as ‘grey water) such as bath or shower water, washing machine water and kitchen sink water can be used to water your plants too. Soil and potting composts are effective at filtering out any contaminants like soap and detergent before taking what’s essential for their hydration.
Ready to Use Drain Kits
You can create a drip irrigation system simply by purchasing a ready-to-use kit. These kits are a great option for automatic watering that saves water and even saves you time.
A drip irrigation kit is perfect for achieving a lush, healthy garden and is certainly easier to use than a watering can. Kits come with a system of tubing that directs small quantities of water directly where it’s needed which prevents the water waste associated with sprinklers and garden hoses.
Harvesting rainwater in a water butt is more environmentally friendly and saves more water than your standard hosepipe during the ban.
A rainwater butt collects and stores rainwater which is then used to water plants, rinse crops, maintain ponds and can even be used to clean your car. The water butt method minimises the amount of tap water used by recycling water that would have otherwise gone down the drain. It also helps to keep your water bills down.
Tips for preserving water during a hosepipe ban
There are a few ways that you can help replenish the water levels quicker in your area. These include:
- Avoid watering the grass. Healthy grass can be left without water for up to 4 weeks without it dying. By leaving your grass dormant, you can preserve the water you would normally use for your lawn. By leaving your grass, you will notice it will turn brown during dormancy. This isn’t anything to worry about and will return to its healthy green colour once the rain returns.
- Use mulch. Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil and can help retain soil moisture and limit evaporation. Plants that are mulched throughout a drought require less watering.
- Place a planter under hanging baskets. This can help save water by catching the drips from your hanging basket. You can then repurpose this water to water it again.
Although a hosepipe ban isn’t ideal when looking after your garden, they are necessary for conserving water when we need it most. Saving water in the garden can also help cut the risk of drought orders and water restrictions and can even help protect wildlife.