Beat any hosepipe bans and make use of stored water with the Hozelock Water Butt Pump.
You may find it hard to believe but we are officially in drought. On Monday, the Environment Agency confirmed the status after the driest year on record in 2011, a second winter of below-average rainfall and only just over 40 per cent average rainfall in February and March. The lack of rain has led to low groundwater levels and exceptionally low river levels across the Midlands.
Although more rain is expected in April, it will take months of sustained rainfall to improve underground water and river levels. Paul Crockett, Midlands drought manager, said: "The whole of the Midlands is now in drought, reflecting the impact of the extremely dry last 18 months on the environment. We are already seeing early impacts on the environment and a dry summer will make this worse. We are appealing to everyone to use water wisely.”
Thankfully, Severn Trent Water and South Staffordshire Water do not anticipate any hosepipe bans, but they are continually reviewing the situation. As well as using water wisely to help replenish our shortage of water, my advice would be to prepare for a potential hosepipe ban — especially if this summer is another dry one. I’ve been trying to conserve water for years, using a water butt connected to my shed guttering for watering whenever I can.
The biggest downfall with a water butt is that it is often located at one end of the garden when you really need the water at the other. Walking backwards and forwards with a seven-litre watering can soon loses its appeal and it’s only a matter of time that you wish you had just turned on the hose and completed the job in half the time. If this sounds like a familiar chore, then you too could benefit from this pump made by hosepipe experts Hozelock.
The pump is extremely simple to use but is very effective. The unit arrives fully assembled, all you have to do is screw on the supplied Hozelock hosepipe connector. I tested the pump using the simplest configuration which was to connect the unit directly to a traditional hosepipe for watering. By using other fitments and attachments, this pump is also able to connect to micro irrigation systems and Hozelock AquaPod systems for drip-feeding.
If like me you’re happy to stick with your traditional hosepipe, all you have to do is place the unit within your water butt. The process takes about five minutes to set up as you first have to purge air from the motor and then positions two bricks at the bottom of your water butt to prevent the unit sucking up excessive debris and silt. The unit is turned on and off at the mains plug and so once the pump is installed in place, there is no need to tamper again.
The unit comes with a 10 metre cable to ensure that it can be plugged in at a safe distance away from where you are watering. I was extremely impressed with the power of the pump and depending on the length of hosepipe you are using, it is possible to achieve very good pressure for use with traditional spray gun and sprinkler systems. And after reading the advice below, you will soon realise that the drip irrigation compatability of this pump makes it as much a necessity this year as your garden spade.
Priced at £69.99 and available from leading garden centres and DIY outlets including B&Q and Homebase, or www.hozelock.com.
Use water wisely
If, or should I say when, a hosepipe ban comes into force, there are plenty of alternative ways to keep your garden watered. The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is keen to emphasise that gardeners will not be left high and dry and that you can still actively garden despite the drought. Seven water companies affecting 20 million people across the south and east of England have already put water restrictions in place for its customers. The HTA is urging people to carrying on gardening and advising that it is possible to keep your plants alive and healthy throughout the hosepipe bans.
Gardeners can still water their plants and vegetables by using watering cans and unlike the blanket bans enforced in 2006, the HTA has secured the exemption of drip irrigation from the seven companies as another watering method. For those that are new to drip irrigation in the garden, it is a simple watering system that places water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface. A typical drip irrigation system uses up to 92 per cent less water than a hosepipe and is a far more efficient way to water the garden.
Water butts are also a good way to conserve water in the garden as they collect rainwater off greenhouses, sheds, garages and house roofs. HTA member garden centres have reported sales increases of up to 300 per cent compared to this time last year. The roof on a house collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year in the UK which runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts which can be used to water lawns, vegetable patches and house plants.
As well as drip irrigation and water butts, there are many other ways to cut down on the amount of water your garden needs:
If showers are forecast, do not water your garden
Water early in the morning or late in the evening when evaporation is minimal
Be sure to deliver water directly to the base of plants
Plant trees and shrubs in well- rotted, water-retaining compost and cover soil with a 2-3ins layer of mulch
Don't worry about established lawns turning brown. This shows the grass has stopped growing, but most lawns will recover completely when the rain returns
Don't cut lawns too short, as longer grass sends down deeper roots and provides more shade
Mix water-storing granules in with potting compost when planting up tubs and hanging baskets
Collect and re-use grey water from the bath or kitchen sink to water plants
Keep borders well weeded as weeds compete for moisture
Use a bigger pot and more compost to cool the soil and conserve moisture
Provide shelter by planting in a spot that is protected by walls, fences, hedges or other plants
Tim Briercliffe, director of business development at the HTA said: “The blanket hosepipe bans of 2006 were very damaging to garden industry and therefore we very much welcome the exemption for drip irrigation provided by all seven water companies that are implementing bans.
“It encourages investment in water- efficient products, which will help achieve greater water savings year-on-year but most importantly, it means that people can continue gardening.”
A water saving tips poster and up to date information on the current water restrictions can be found at www.the-hta.org.uk/water.
Water butt pump facts
High pressure pump (1.1bar)
Max flow 2,200 litres per hour
Allows the use of stored rain water / grey water with any watering product.
The pump can be used to power drip watering systems including the AquaPod, and guns and sprinklers.
Supplied with 10m cable
Two filters: Coarse filter on the inlet to protect the pump, and a fine filter on the outlet to protect your watering equipment from contamination.
Can also be used to move clean water around the garden, eg to transfer the water from a paddling pool to a water butt.