8 Ways You Can Help Your Garden Survive A Drought | Checkatrade
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8 ways to help your garden survive a drought

A drought can cause many issues, especially in your garden. With potential hosepipe bans and restrictions on water usage, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing in your garden to ensure it stays alive. Follow these top tips to help your garden survive a dry season.

Add shade

If you have plants in pots, try and move them out of the heat of the afternoon sun. For plants that can’t be moved, suspend some shade cloth over the plants to help keep them cool. You can easily remove this when it cools down.

Apply a mulch

Mulch will help to retain moisture and keep soil cooler in the sun. Aim for a 2 – 4 inch layer of mulch.

applying mulch

Step away from the fertilizers

Fertilizers encourage growth, and with more growth, more moisture is needed. Added to this, if fertilizer salt builds up because it’s not draining away properly, this can burn the plant roots.

Remove weeds

Weeds can steal valuable water, nutrients and space from other plants that need it, so make sure you get rid.

If you’re struggling to identify what are weeds and what are plants, we recommend hiring a gardener to come and take a look.

Clearing weeds

Break up the soil

Take the time to carefully break up the soil to make it easier for water to absorb. That way, the roots will get the water you’re giving them.

Lawn care

A lawn needs a considerable amount of water to stay green in the summer, which means when a hosepipe ban comes into place, this is the first thing to suffer. We recommend allowing your lawn to go dormant. It should recover when rainfall returns, but if it doesn’t, you can reseed.

Another good tip is to raise the blades on your lawnmower so that it only takes the top off. You can then sprinkle the cuttings on the lawn to act as a mulch to keep any moisture in.

Install water butts

If it does rain, you want to utilise this as much as possible. As well as the rain watering the garden, it’s a good idea to install water butts to capture as much water as possible to use after the rain has fallen. And then of course, make sure you water wisely with the water you do collect.

Contact a handyperson or a gardener to install yours.

Water wisely

There are a few things we mean by this. Firstly, identify and prioritise the plants that really need watering. Generally, you should prioritise the shrubs and trees planted in the last couple of years as their roots are not fully established, and they will be most sensitive to drought.

Secondly, make sure you water from the bottom of the plant and not the top.

Thirdly, make sure you water the garden first thing in the morning when it’s cool.

Note: During a hosepipe ban, you can use a watering can to water the plants that need it. Do try and limit your water usage.

water butt

If you’re struggling to look after your garden in this dry season, we would recommend hiring a professional gardener to help keep your garden in shape.

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What others think of this article:

Maureen Coughlin

I was quite surprised with all the information on looking after my garden, very interesting and informative and on checkatrade as well, well done all, keep the advice coming thank you.


Good advice, Christine! People should just think about any chemicals in their recycled water - hopefully, any product is really diluted in the water and will not kill the lawn or any plants.


Hi Tony, We've had some other comments saying to use bath and washing up water too. On your point about cleaning products being in the water - if the cleaning product has been diluted in the water (say, washing up liquid) it's unlikely to have any effect on your lawn or plants. There is always a risk that if there's still a high proportion of cleaning product or the product in the water is really strong, then it will kill your plants. If it's a tougher plant and the product is really diluted in the water, then the plant may be unaffected. You'll have to judge it for yourself whether the water is safe to use or not.


Great advice for everyone, Wendy. Thanks for commenting!

Wendy Goddard

I use my water butts from my guttering. l have put up on sheds summer house and garage, l use them around Easter time as they are full after winter and then they can fill up again come summer, that way your saving water early instead of it going stagnant and smelly. l have been using water butts to do plant pots recently as realised we were going to be short on water. l used mine again this morning in different areas of my garden as know its going to rain again next week from Monday, so hopefully will fill up again. I do use garden fork to put holes in grass ready for rain however little there is, it then soaks into the ground instead of laying on top, as it takes time to penetrate the ground causing flooding. Dont let water butts just evaporate the water in them, use if you can as water will eventually fill them. Plants in ground will be ok its pots that need water first, others will come back eventually. Please leave water out for birds and hedgehogs everynight,throw old water in plant pots and refresh for our birds and hedgehogs as it gets hot and they won't drink it hot, so keep checking on water for them. l have dogs and they have water bowls which get hot ,l put in shade but still hot so empty into pots at night and refresh for our wildlife,there important to us to.Wendy.

Christine Cromwell

I save the water from showers (put the plug in) and baths. If you lay the watering can on its side at one end of the bath you can scoop an almost full watering can.

Chris Hillman

Hi There. After we have washed the pots, as long as the water is not to greasy, we empty it into a large bucket, with the rubbish in the bottom of the bowl going down the drain. Once cooled we fill the watering can & water away. We have been doing this for quite a few years now, and to be honest, my garden is lovely.


I'm not an avid gardener, but I remember as a kid hearing that when there were droughts that you could use bath or washing up water. Obviously these will have a small amount of cleaning products in them. I don't know if that would be harmful, especially to hardier plants &/or lawns. Certainly it might be better for plants that might otherwise die from drought. But this isn't advice - this is a question?

Shirley Dawson

I’m pleased you are sending out information to help people through the drought with their garden.

T Courage

Some useful suggestions


Very, very helpful for gardener who easily goes the wrong way about things. THANK YOU!

Rosalind Christmas

Good advice very helpful, we obviously need to change some of our shrubs if the weather is going to be this hot in the future. I definitely will get more water butts for my garden, I enjoyed reading this article. I am not keen on artificial grass, not good for wildlife, still needs to be swept and watered so l am told, l am happy with my brown grass for the time being. It will grow. I put all of my pots on the grass so when they are watered it drains on the grass not the concrete.

Annette Hallam

Very useful advice as usual from Checkatrade

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