I'm currently writing a new book, about water management in the garden, because I always seem to be writing about how to manage watering of plants, in response to questions: and this has made me realise that a lot of people don't know where to start, when it comes to sensible watering arrangements,
When it comes to water in the garden, then, I have several rules: here are some of them, in no particular order.
Firstly, obviously, have as many water butts as you can, because the water is free, and is better for the plants than tap water. And did I say that it's free?!
Secondly, always make sure your water butts are installed correctly, so that rainwater fills them, but doesn't overflow all over your patio: and make sure that the connections are done up tightly, so they don't drip (it's wasteful and it promotes the growth of unsightly moss and weeds).
Thirdly - not that we're going in any sort of order - have the butts where you need them. There's no point having six butts up by the house, if your veg bed is way, way down the end of the garden. If there are no convenient gutters down there, then you might have to be a bit creative with your water management - you'll have to wait for the book to come out, for those, as there's quite a lot of information and suggestions to be shared!
Fourthly, although possibly secondly in terms of importance, always ensure butts are sufficiently high off the ground for you to get a watering can underneath them.... you'd think this would be obvious but apparently - right - this is not the case.
And while you are at it, make sure there's a level area big enough for the can to stand on while it fills.
And that leads to the whole point of this brief article: buy enough watering cans that you can leave one at each set of butts. I mean, what is the point of having a water butt without a watering can next to it?
It drives me mad, having to waste time chasing around the garden to find a watering can - yes, I know that the Client is paying for my time, so if they really want to waste it, it is their business, but it's inefficient.
I would much rather encourage my Clients to buy more watering cans, if they don't have enough, and I ask them to get the sort whose handle does not go over the filling hole (I mean, what idiot invented that style?) otherwise it's tricky to get all the water in the can, instead of over your feet.
As in this picture - left.
I mean, had whoever designed it never actually used a watering can? *rolls eyes*
In a perfect world, I have two cans at each butt (or collection of water butts), so one can be filling while I am using the other to water with: this is what I do in my own garden.
I quite enjoy the challenge of estimating how far open I need to operate the tap, to give me time to use up one can-full and return to the butt, before it overflow: but without having to stand there and wait for it to finish filling.
And as a final note, in case you have ever wondered how much money you are saving yourself by using water butt water, I worked it out once: assuming that you live on mains drainage, then taking into account the standing cost, the cost of the water, and the cost of removing waste water (if you didn't already know this, those of us living in towns ie without septic tanks) pay once per cubic meter for the clean water, then pay again, on the assumption that all the water we take, eventually goes back down the drains to be cleaned and returned to us), one average watering fan full of water "costs" half of one pence.
This means that if you collect rainwater and use it on your plants, you are saving half a p for every can-full
So get out there, and buy some more watering cans!
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