Drought suggests UK hosepipe ban

Mon, Apr 25, 2011

Water, Water butts

It has not rained on the South Coast for weeks – well not rain that makes a difference. My garden is now exceptionally dry which make digging and planting a real challenge -anyone else having the same  experience?

England and Wales had their driest March in more than 60 years, with some parts of Cambridgeshire having less than 2mm – less than is normally recorded in the Sahara desert at this time of year – according to figures released by the government’s centre for hydrology and ecology (CEH). Experts warned that the next few weeks could be critical for water companies, farmers and wildlife, and could determine whether there are hosepipe bans later in the year.http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/14/hosepipe-ban-driest-march-60-years


Droughts are more common as a result of climate change and we need to think seriosuly about how we source and use our water – especially in the garden.http://www.vimeo.com/10868252

Any new plants I add to my garden this year have been chosen as they can cope with drought. One of my favourites  is the Australian Bottle Brush, now a common sight in many UK gardens.


If you are looking for drought resistant plants to beat the expected drought this summer visit these excellent specialist nurseries for inspiration:


This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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11 Comments For This Post

  1. Philip Greig Says:

    I am worried about this year’s drought. I have been watering plants planted this year but cannot do so with trees planted a long way from the house. The river (upper Thames) is very low.

    April showers have been almost non-existent! Last year was pretty bad too. Is this really what we must expect from climate change??

  2. Peter Cooper. Says:

    Hi Phil,

    Yep, this is what we must expect from climate change. Here, near Coventry, we have had just over 7mm of rain during March and 3.5mm during April. Last six months have been 20% of annual average and March to July last year was practically rain free in our neck of the woods.

    I have noticed a definite shift of the prevailing wind from west to east and this ties in with cold winters and dry summers as we loose the Atlantic influence.

    Something is going on and I fear this year could be 1976 over again…..or worse! Happy hosepiping!

  3. Roy Bretton Says:

    I am in North West Essex and in the past two months we have had 3mm of rain, which on dry ground equals no rain at all. The fourteen day weather forecast is still saying dry, so unless we have rain very soon plants will be dying, in fact the lawns are already turning brown in many places. I have noticed how the spring sown crops are dormant in the fields, due to lack of water, in the last few weeks we have had very little dew, just drying winds instead.

    In 2010 after the long winter, we had a very cold spring, once again with minimal rainfall. Apparently, between march and June we had an inch and a half of rain, which once again falling on dry ground equals no rain at all, or rain which will have no benefits on plants etc.

    There is an old saying ash before oak we have a soak and oak before ash we have a splash! This year the oak came out long before the ash, normally this principle seems to be right, in fact I have only known it to be wrong once!

    I do wonder if the weather may change in June and turn wet for the rest of the summer, despite my comment above, regarding the oak tree, time will tell!

  4. Debbie Says:

    Thanks Phillip and Roy for sharing your experiences and thoughts about the lack of UK rainfall over the past two months and its effect on our plants and gardens.
    Climate Change not only affects the amount of rainfall but in particular when it falls.You may have noticed that periods of drought in the UK are often followed by monsoon showers that can damage plants and run off the surface of very dry soils.
    This is even more reason why we must save the rain when it that falls and prepare for even more unpredictable rainfall patterns in the future.http://www.myclimatechangegarden.com/blog/buy-water-butts

    The long term forecast for June is indeed for a wetter period so get those water butts ready!

  5. Rose Lennard Says:

    I’ve resorted to showering over the bath with the plug in, and siphoning out the greywater for guilt-free garden watering – a surprising worthwhile amount is collected. Otherwise, I’ve noticed that where I covered up one of the veg beds with cut open compost sacks several months ago (mainly to keep cats off until ready to sow or plant), even my dry sandy soil is looking quite nice and damp, so it’s really been protected from evaporation and probably catching a bit of condensation as well. Wondering whether to use plastic mulch around toms and courgettes when I plant them out…

  6. Roy Bretton Says:

    Just a quick note, as to the dry weather; we have had about 8mm of rain since my last post on the 1st May 2011. I know that parts of Essex, nearer London, did have a considerable larger amount of rain, than North Essex. There is rain forecast for tonight, I will believe it when I see it! These small amounts of rain have made a minimal difference to growing conditions, although considering the lack of rain, I am amazed how well the cereal crops and lawns have stood up to the dry conditions.

    No doubt sooner or later, the weather will change and the rain won’t know when to stop!

  7. Peter Cooper. Says:

    According to a local weather station, May total rainfall for Coventry came in at a little above 41mm – 75% of average. A great improvement but the cumulative effects of the preceding dry months meant that it just vanished into the bone dry earth.

    I have fixed a rain gauge in the garden and so far this month we have had just 1mm. Lawn has large brown and what appears to be totally dead areas. All remaining fruit veg and flowers are being kept alive by watering from rain water butts (now almost empty) or frequent hosing.

    Our local water authority, Severn Trent, has issued dire warnings of hose pipe bans. I hope they attend to the many leaks in the pipework of their system with the same degree of urgency…..but somehow I doubt it!

  8. Debbie Says:

    Hi Peter

    Interesting to hear that even in the Midlands you are also suffering from a lack of rain which I presume is normally not a problem for this part of the UK in spring/summer.

    Well done on using what rainwater there is to keep your plants alive.
    Gardeners are usualy very resourceful individuals so we can set an example for the future about how to use water wisely.

    Just one suggestion – maybe ditch the lawn – or is that just too radical for you?

  9. Peter Cooper. Says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Well yes, it has been increasingly, a problem over the last three years. It appears to be very localised though. For instance, the nearest weather station has come in with a July so far total of 44mm. This station is in Coventry, only 15 miles or so away. But my garden rain gauge has recorded only 20mm (about 25% of normal.) We seem to only get rain in the summer now from Atlantic depressions. Thunderstorms here are virtually extinct! Showers seem to be going the same way. it is now 5 months since this area of south west Leicestershire had anything like a normal rainfall.

    As a result the village gardens and road verges are the worst I have seen since 1976. Only the hose and watering can are keeping them hanging on.

    Yes, I could certainly do with losing the lawn; it’s only a small one at the front and being 35 years old is past its sell by date!

    Well, we’ll see what August brings, and I’ll let you know at the end of the month.

    Yours dehydratedly,

    Peter Cooper.

  10. Peter Cooper. Says:

    Sorry, correction needed on last post. July so far rainfall total at local weather station 40.4 not 44.0.

    Also total rainfall for June – local weather station 44.6mm (75% of normal.) my rain gauge – 18.0 mm – see what I mean by localised!


  11. Debbie Scott Anderson Says:

    Hi again Peter
    Thanks for updating us on how low rainfall has been in South West Leicestershire during July. It certainly does appear that certain local areas within one county often receive far less rain than the weather stations record. I am just watching the weather forecast and the current high temperatures ar predicted to bring heavy rainfall and thunderstorms by this wednesday 3rd august.Do hope you might get a good helping.
    Predictions for August suggest a drier than normal month I am afraid. Please do keep us posted on how this affects your gardens and local environment.
    Remember to use grey water where you can ie from baths or washing up if it does not contain detergents.
    Maybe a rain dance might help!
    Thanks again for your interesting comments.