Watering the garden can be a time-consuming activity, especially during a heatwave. Whilst it is important to make sure your plants stay hydrated there is also a more efficient way of watering your garden which people don't always realise. This guide is going to give you my Top 10 tips for conserving and using water in the garden. Ensuring you have more time to sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful gardens as much as possible!

Plants are incredibly tough things but during heat waves and summer they may need a bit more assistance in the hydration department. If you’ve recently planted new shrubs, trees or herbaceous plants then you’re going to have to help them out by watering them until they are established.

Top 10 Garden Water Saving Hacks

If you’ve planted bedding plants, are container gardening or have house plants then making sure they have enough water at the right time is key for their survival. This guide will help you save water and time with your plants. After all, there’s no point watering for the sake of it when you could be sat enjoying your plants inside or outside!

1. Swap your hosepipe for a watering can.

This swap will reduce water usage significantly, making you more aware of the amount of water being used. It also means you don’t have to lug long lengths of hose around the garden which inevitably will smash into plants near the edge.

Make sure you’re watering the base of the plant and not wasting effort spraying all the foliage as well. Whilst this may help temporarily cool the plant down, it is actually pretty useless in terms of enabling the plant to uptake water. Most of this water simply evaporates before it gets a chance for the plants to take it up via their roots.

A shiney metal watering can

2. Install a water butt to collect rainwater in your garden.

This water is free and will be the ideal ambient temperature for your garden plants and seedlings. It’s a really good way to have some ‘me time’ as you let the watering can fill up, providing a really mindful gardening activity!

So why not fit a water butt to part of your roof or shed guttering? Then you can collect rainfall and help significantly reduce your water bills.

Watering can under a water butt

3. Leave your lawn alone – don’t water it!

Trust me on this one grass is one of the toughest of all garden plants and can survive periods of drought. Even if your lawn turns yellow it will recover so save time, money and effort by leaving your lawns alone. No matter how crispy it gets I’ve never seen a lawn totally killed by a heatwave.

If you’ve just laid a new lawn then that’s a different matter and this will require water.

Garden Ninja unrolling turf on a garden makeover

You’re better off letting it grow slightly longer and postponing cutting it. This saves you water and helps your lawn take a breather!

4. Mulch your borders by adding a layer of compost, bark chips or grass clippings to your borders to retain moisture

An added layer of either compost, bark or gravel will help stop excess water evaporating, minimising the amount needed to water your plants. Mulching will also help your plants grow healthier and stronger as it adds more nutrients to your soil.

Garden Blogger Lee Burkhill mulching a garden

5. Water your garden in the early morning or late evening

Avoid watering plants in the middle of the day, when it’s warmest, to minimise water lost via evaporation. It also allows you to see your garden in the best soft light when colours look more vibrant!

Ignore the myth that watering in the day acts like a magnifying glass on leaves. This is false! It’s more to avoid trying to water plants when they are transpiring (using water, nutrients and air to respire) the fastest, ie in the midday sun. Watering them when they are transpiring the slowest ie first thing in the day means they have a better chance of actively taking up the moisture.

If you have house plants only water these when they start to dry out. The biggest killer of house plants is eagerly over watering them!

Water your houseplants when the surface feels dry. Be careful not to overwater them.

6. Reuse Grey Kitchen Water

When your washing salad or fruit, capture the water and re-use it in the garden. It makes sense not to let that lovely freshwater disappear down the plughole! You can also use this for houseplants or container plants. So rather than it flow down the drain use a bowl and then help hydrate your balcony or indoor plants!

Reusing water from the sink
Reuse water used for washing fruit, vegetables or salad. This can then be used to water house plants or containers.

7. Keep yourself hydrated when gardening

While it doesn’t initially sound obvious, carry a bottle of water around to sip throughout the day and pour any that you don’t drink onto the garden. Gardening can be warm work so stay hydrated!

The same goes for suns cream and taking rest in the shade on hot days. Gardening is not an endurance sport!

8. Choose plants that require less water

There are plants out there that thrive in more arid conditions. Examples include Lavender, Epimediums, Succulents & Nepeta. By selecting plants suitable for your gardens aspect and light levels it means you can relax more without needing to water as much!

Sempervivums on display in a show garden by Garden Blogger Lee Burkhill
Choose plants that thrive in dry conditions such as Lavender, Succulents, Edpimediums and Nepeta.

9. Fish tank water is great for plants so reuse it

If you are cleaning out a fish tank, the nutrients left in the water are great for promoting lush, healthy plants saving the need to add extra fertiliser. Win-Win!

10. Selective ‘Spot’ watering is the professional gardens secret weapon

All pro gardeners use spot watering and often avoid needing to reel out a huge hose pipe each time they water the garden.

Spot watering means you only ‘spot’ water plants that require water, rather than soaking the entire garden. Most established shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants can survive periods without watering as they have complex root systems. So only water those new plants or ones that look in need and leave everything else alone.

Spot water only those plants that a newly planted, showing signs of wilt or are in contained. You can leave established plants alone.


By gardening smarter, you can not only save yourself time but money when conserving water. That way you can sit and enjoy the fruits of your labour whether it is admiring your house plants or sitting outside enjoying your bright colourful borders!

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If you have questions or comments on taking cuttings why not let me know below? You can Tweet, Facebook or Instagram me. You can also follow me on Youtube where I’ve got plenty of garden guide vlogs!

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