While a warm and dry summer has its plus points, it does raise the question about how we can keep the garden well hydrated as water becomes and increasingly scarce resource. Mike has shared some tips on how to keep the garden thriving in times of drought, while also keeping tabs on pests and disease.

A good place to start is to install a water butt If you have space. Not only is it a cost-effective way to keep the garden well hydrated, but plants love rainwater because it is naturally more acidic and doesn’t contain any chemicals that can be found in our tap water.

When water is scarce, it’s best then to work out what needs watering in the garden. Plants that have been established for a number of years are likely to be able to find their own water so shouldn’t need any. Anything that has been planted in the last 12 to 18 months will need some help though, as will tubs and hanging baskets.

For the best results, it is best to water at cooler times of the day, so early morning or late evening. This will reduce the amount of water that is lost through evaporation, meaning that your plants will get more. Soak plants well three or four times a week rather than a little bit every day but with tubs and baskets increase this to daily watering.

For borders, use a good depth of mulch – a layer of fibrous material, such as Blooming Amazing or Chipped Bark will help conserve moisture. Not only that, but it will also help reduce weed growth, protect your soil from heavy rain when it finally arrives and will also improve the soil quality in the long term.

In the vegetable garden or on a newly planted border, seep hoses can be used to water larger areas. Such hoses are made from recycled car tyres and when connected to a garden hose, the water will gently seep out onto the soil. Because there is no splashing the efficiency of the amount of water that gets to your plants is very high. Seep hoses can easily be rolled up and moved to another area or can be left permanently.

When it comes to your lawn, keeping it green and lush will take a significant amount of water, so you might have to just tolerate the fact that it will be brown for a few weeks and then be amazed at its ability to return to its full glory as the rain returns. You can help buy not mowing quite so tightly too.

The use of mini irrigation systems has become very popular in recent times. A main pipe is laid around the perimeter of the garden and from this “spaghetti” tubes added on the end of which is a sprinkler or better still a dripper which can be inserted into your pots, hanging baskets or growbags as well as in borders. A timer can be used back at the tap to control how often and for how long the watering is carried out. These systems can be really efficient in getting water precisely where it’s needed, but they need to be lived with and the nozzles adjusted as all plants have different levels of thirst but after a while with good observation this is easy to work out.

The use of Rootgrow when planting can also reduce the amount of watering required because it enables plants to find their own water. Rootgrow contains mycorrhizal fungi which are naturally occurring and are a sort of mould which attaches itself to the roots of plants and grows out into the soil like an extension to the root system. It occurs naturally in the wild and by adding it when planting it significantly improves the establishment and success of plants.

In tubs and hanging baskets, the use of moisture retentive gels can give a helping hand in making sure plants get enough water. In times of abundance the gel, which can be added to your compost when planting, swells up absorbing water. In times of drought the water is released to the plants.