1 If you need to water, do it in the early morning or evening. Watering at the cooler ends of the day prevents waste from evaporation. It also helps prevent leaf scorch.
2 Create a dust mulch. The dust produced by hoeing acts as a mulch and helps to lock in soil moisture.
3 Regular hoeing helps prevent the weeds from taking hold. Weeds absorb approximately 4 times more water and nutrients from the soil than regular plants. That's how they grow so quickly!
4 Organic matter. High levels of organic matter introduced into your soil will help it retain a good moisture balance. This is particularly useful in a light sandy soil which may drain too quickly in heavy clay soils which can set like a brick when dry or soak up water like a sponge when wet. Organic matter (in the form of soil conditioner and well rotted manure) will improve the soil structure and help produce a more even water environment for plants to flourish.
5 Mulching. Create a mulch on the soil surface using wood chip bark or well rotted manure. This helps lock moisture in. People have even used news paper and old carpet in the past. This is best done after a wet spell when the soil has moisture.
6 Water butts. Great for collecting free rain water. Maximise on your rain fall and run the drain pipes from your roof into a water butt.
7 Use porous pipe. When planting trees and shrubs it often helps to place a porous drainage pipe
vertically in the soil directing water to the roots.
8 Household water. Soapy washing up water is fine for watering none edible plants. Old fish tank water is excellent. It is full of nutrients.The nutrient rich water left over when you boil an egg is brilliant for watering house plants. Hot water bottles etc are great to empty onto your hanging baskets and pots. Keep a washing up bowl in your sink and collect the waste when you rinse a mug, wash your hands etc. Empty it into a water butt and save it for when you need it. Avoid dishwasher and washing machine water. The detergent content is possibly too high and may be damaging particularly on the lawn.
9 Avoid over watering. Most plants only require a good drench to water them in once. They do not need constant watering. If you over water plants the roots are encouraged to come up to the surface for water. They must tap down into the most layers of the soil. Shallow rooted plants are weak and vulnerable to the first breath of dryer weather.
10 Water retaining agents. Silica gel is brilliant for retaining extra available moisture in hanging baskets and containers. Take care to line the baskets well and use a good organic compost.
11 Larger containers clustered together will not dry out as quickly as smaller pots. They will also retain more moisture in shadier positions.
12 Lawn care. Let your grass grow little longer. Keep the weeds out of your lawn. Spike it well. Consider leaving grass clippings down to act as a mulch.( It will also absorbed 1/4 of its required nutrients from the clippings.) If you need to water drench occasionally rather than watering a little and often which is ineffective. Should your grass turn brown don’ t worry it can recover quickly after a good rainfall.
13 Choose the right plants. There are many countries much dryer than the UK all with fantastic gardens. We can take advantage of the massive selection of suitable plants available in this country. (Succulent plants and many Mediterranean varieties are ideal.)
Plants that suit these conditions have often specific characteristics to help them cope with drought.
Grey, silver and blue leaved ones that are clothed in fine hair or have a waxy surface deflect the burning suns rays. Plants with fragrant foliage exude volatile oils which form a haze around the plant and act as a sun block. Then there are succulent plants of low neat habit whose thick and fleshy leaves store water to prevent dehydration. Many sun loving plants perform best on soils that are not to fertile.