RHS urges public to be smart with their watering as it unveils giant water butt at its flagship garden

July 15th 2022

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is reminding the UK’s 30 million gardeners of ways to conserve water on their plots by making subtle changes to how they collect and use water.

The charity is recommending that gardeners install a water butt, compost and mulch the soil around plants, use a watering can instead of a hosepipe, avoid watering in the hottest parts of the day, let lawns grow long without watering them, and use drip trays or self-watering systems for pots and hanging baskets to reduce wastage of water.

Over the medium to long term gardeners are also advised to create naturally shaded and lower-lying spaces for thirstier plants to thrive, and opt for drought-tolerant plants in sunnier and more elevated spots to help make gardens more resilient to climate change.

With heatwaves forecast for much of the country it might seem counterintuitive to think about water butts, but dry spells are the perfect time to install one and capture any rainwater from summer showers or storms that may otherwise end up as run off in gardens baked hard by dry weather. An average sized water butt (210L) is enough to irrigate ten hanging baskets for three months, and sales of water butts across RHS Retail are up 110% this year.

A new giant water butt, equivalent to more than 42,000 domestic ones, is currently being created at RHS Garden Wisley. The new Clear Lake will open to the public this autumn on the garden’s former Trials Field and will collect rainwater runoff from RHS Hilltop, home of Gardening Science, during wet weather. The lake will provide enough water for the ten acre woodland garden known as Battleston Hill during dry summer periods, providing a home for wildlife and a cool space for the well-being of our visitors. It joins the glasshouse lake, the borehole in the pinetum, and underground tanks at various locations in the garden, which are similarly used as water reserves. All of this helps towards the charity’s commitment to delivering its sustainability strategy, to be water neutral by 2030.

Mark Gush, Head of Environmental Horticulture at the RHS, says: “Like the RHS, gardeners are having to be smart about how they water their gardens; investing in water butts and mulch, only watering where necessary, and swapping thirsty annuals for more resilient perennials. Thinking ahead is one of the best things we can all do in preparing our green spaces for weather extremes, ensuring that even during the height of summer they provide a green oasis.

The creation of Clear Lake has been entirely funded by Marit Mohn, a long-standing RHS member and Fellow. The lake will feature a fountain to aid water circulation and quality, sloping sides to aid wildlife access and two new neighbouring pavilions for visitors to the garden to enjoy.

Gardeners can find more recommendations for saving and using water responsibly and join thousands of gardeners who have already made the pledge to switch from mains to rains water at: http://www.mains2rains.uk/

Source: RHS Press Release 12/07/2022