Coping with this continued heat is hard enough for us, but it’s obvious looking at our gardens that they are having to cope too. As part of the #TapChat that we're starting about daily water habits, we've asked Surrey-based gardener and designer Renée Canter aka ‘The Girl who Gardens’ to share her tactics for making sure the plants in your garden grow and thrive – without needing too much time or water.

1. Right Plant – Right Place

Different plants thrive in different conditions. Get to know your garden’s conditions and do your research on the plants that like those conditions.

Questions to answer include:

  • Is it shady or in full sun?
  • Is the soil heavy to dig (likely to be clay) hard (might be chalky if you live on or near the North Downs) or lighter (likely to be sandy)?
  • Is it boggy or free-draining?

Plant labels should help you decide what conditions that plant likes, but also the RHS and online retailers also have lots of information about what plants will suit your conditions.

2. Adding Organic Matter

If there’s only one thing you do for your garden this is it. Adding organic matter to your soil acts as a soil conditioner. Improving the structure of the soil (over time), adding nutrients and also helping to retain moisture.

But what is ‘organic Matter’? It’s compost or manure. You want well-rotted compost from your compost bin or horse manure. You know if it’s well-rotted as it has no smell and has a lovely crumbly texture. Add a layer of it to your beds and borders once a year in November and the winter frosts will break it down into the soil and then it goes to work- it will repay you over and over again.

3. Collecting Water

To avoid turning the tap on it makes sense to use the water we have collected ourselves. Here are some easy ways to collect water in your home:

  • Install a water butt to your guttering on your house, shed or greenhouse. Get more than one and place them around the garden so you don’t have to walk far to fill up.
  • Leave your watering can outside so any rain fills it.
  • Reuse ‘grey’ water which has already used for something else in your home. Water from the bath or sink is ok but avoid using water that’s had bleach, disinfectant or dishwasher salt in it.

4. Mulch Mulch Mulch

Adding a 10cm layer of bark, gravel or chippings will help the soil retain water by lessening evaporation. It also suppresses weed growth so is well worth considering.

5. Watering

Watering plants in the early morning helps to avoid evaporation loss in the heat of the day, or on a summer evening where the dry soil will take in the water quickly. Use these techniques to be most effective with the water and your time:

  • Use a hose with a trigger gun or a watering can with a long spout for precision watering.
  • Water less often but for longer. Give them a good drink twice a week rather than a splash of water every day.
  • Water the plants that really need it: pots, baskets, vegetables and newly planted plants.

I hope these tips make it easier for you to look after your garden all year round. Look out for my blog posts on drought-tolerant plants and how best to water.

 - Renée

Click here to find more simple tips for saving water, time and money. Live in Sutton? Join the #TapChat Sutton to get free water saving products and tips.