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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 04:32 GMT 05:32 UK
Saving water, wasting water
Chris Beardshaw and Charlie Dimmock
Chris and Charlie answered some of your e-mails
Keen gardeners breathed a sigh of relief last week, as the biggest water company in the South East of England decided to put off drought restrictions for a little longer.

But, even thought it's raining at the moment, reservoirs are still half empty - and many areas of Eastern England may be experiencing drought by the end of the summer.

All this week on Breakfast, we're looking at the problem with water.

We'll be asking what happens when the taps run dry - and whether we'll need to change the way we live and work, as water becomes increasingly precious.

Monday: gardeners' questions

Even if there's not yet an official drought, many gardeners are already facing a summer without hosepipes and sprinklers

Some have already decided to ditch the bedding plants. Others are investing in water butts, to collect rainwater from the roof.

Chris Beardshaw was Breakfast's guest presenter at the Chelsea Flower Show this morning.

He took a look at some of the show gardens - and, with Charlie Dimmock, answered some of your e-mails.

Gardening without wasting water: top tips

Some of the plants suggested by gardener Reg Moule: broom and osteospermum
Drought resistant plants needn't be boring

  • A water butt connected to your down-pipes will collect clean rainwater from the roof. But that may not be enough for your plants in summer.

  • You can use domestic waste water on your garden, as long as you haven't been using bleach or strong disinfectants. Normal soap and detergent shouldn't harm your plants, as long as you're not intending to eat them.

  • However you collect your water, don't put it on the garden in the middle of the day - or you'll lose most of it to evaporation. If you water in the evening, the plants can have a long drink overnight

  • Resist the temptation to water little and often, or your plants will end up with shallow roots. Save up your water and then give your plants a thorough drenching.

  • If your garden is exposed, you can reduce water loss from the ground with hedges, fences and other shelter.

  • Leave the lawnmower in the shed for a week or so. Keep your lawn at least one inch (2.4cm) long, as it will hold on to water better. If the grass does go brown, don't panic: it'll grow back as soon as it rains.

  • Put a mulch or gravel on flower beds, to lock the water in.

  • New plants need more water until they're established. So make sure you plant in Spring or Autumn, not mid-summer. This also applies to new lawns.

  • Don't go mad on container plants and hanging baskets: they'll need watering every day. If you already have hanging baskets, try using water retaining gel in the soil.

  • Don't dig your garden after March, if you can help it .

  • Switch to plants which need less water, such as Pelargoniums and Petunias.

    Grey-leaved plants, such as lavenders, santolina and stachys, are all suitable for dry soil. Drought-resistant plants, such as cistus, are especially a good idea for sandy soils.

    Some of the drought-resistant plants mentioned by our gardener Reg Moule include: decorative grasses, prairie plants such as verbena, heleniums, broom and - for beautiful flowers - perennial osteospermum.

  • You can find more tips on the RHS' website

  • You can also find more about drought-loving plants from the Environment Agency (see link on the right hand side of this story)

  • BBC Breakfast


    More drought orders
    19 May 06 |  Breakfast


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