We are just settling our Hampton Court Trees back to a temporary home at the office. The car park looks great (not much room for cars!) but it does mean we have to water religiously
It is a really good reminder that in this hot dry weather there is a real risk of losing newer planting- trees in particular do need a great deal of water to keep them going. This can feel pretty onerous at times, and particularly if you are about to go on holiday. Irrigation is worth considering- you can grab a simple system (even as a temporary measure) from a DIY superstore for around £50. Larger, pumped, and more efficient systems are probably better designed to suit.
Funnily enough, an irrigation system is not neccessarily a profligate use of water, the little drippers (pictured above) are so efficient that most water authorities allow you to use them during hosepipe bans. The goal is to keep the soil moist at all times rather than allowing it to bake hard and sloshing water all over it afterwards so that it just disappears! We spoke to many people whilst at Hampton Court last week who envied our lush shade planting and said they only had dry shade- I was amazed at how many thought they could not use irrigation on environmental grounds yet were out there with a hose or watering can every evening. Even just choosing a small area to get established with a bit more water can really bear dividends if you are a plant lover.
The above planting features Primula ‘Salvana’, Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’, Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ and Hosta ‘Praying Hands’.
Larger and more permanent systems are also worth a thought- particularly if you are preparing an extension or new build when the infrastructure will be easy. A rainwater capture system simply takes the water from your downpipes and stores it in a tank (which can be hidden underground, or a smaller one can be placed behind a garage, shed or planting). A pump allows this to run irrigation for lawns and planting as well as standpipes in the garden and even grey water for the house (loo flushing etc) if required.These are larger projects so feel free to call us if we can help- we are happy to supply the kit for your builders to put in during groundworks so it need not be a huge performance.
Short term, use a hose on a low trickle into the tree root zone, preferably at night when the temperature has come down a bit. Add a good thick mulch with bark chip or compost to retain the moisture, and remove weeds and grass which will compete for the limited water. It might not look as neat as this but even done roughly it will help.
Finally, look at your plants and dont be afraid to use your own judgement- if a plant is wilting there is something wrong! In this weather it is a pretty good bet that it is too dry. Trees may also start dropping their leaves to save water so if you have leaves all over the lawn that may also be a clue. DON’T leave it until all the leaves are brown as that may well be too late!
Few plants like to be overwatered, but in open ground, unless you are on clay, that is hard to do in the current weather!