The most common garden watering questions answered

bird bath in garden
5 common garden watering questions answeredJacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Water is a precious resource and reserves in the UK are under pressure from the effects of climate change. Over the summer months, water is generally in short supply, so it's a good idea to collect what you can and use it to benefit plants and wildlife.

Take a look at the most common questions about watering gardens, along with their answers. Whether you're an expert or a gardening novice, these will help all of us put every drop to good use as the weather warms up.

How can I store rainwater?

Rainwater is the best option for watering plants. Use a water butt to collect rainwater from a downpipe. A water butt planter means you can enjoy a planted display at the top.

Fill a watering can from the tap on the butt to water borders, or attach a hose – disconnecting it when not in use so the water can drain out of the hose, which will reduce any risk of bacterial growth in warmer weather. Ensure the rainwater stays clean by using frequently so it can be replenished with a fresh supply, and keep the guttering clear of debris too.

I want to install a bird bath – what do I need to consider?

First, prioritise location. According to the RSPB, bird baths should be kept out of direct sunlight to stop the water getting too hot. Choosing a shady, sheltered spot means algae won’t grow as quickly and insects are less likely to lay eggs.

Placing your bird bath near plants or other forms of shelter improves the chances of birds using it as they like the security they offer. Once you’ve got the right spot, fill it with about two inches of water as smaller birds can easily enjoy this depth. If it's deeper, just add a few large stones or pebbles for them to perch on.

bird bath in garden
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Does size matter when it comes to ponds?

Large ponds are wildlife magnets, but even a mini 'pond in a pot' will allow you to create an ecosystem for insects, frogs and hedgehogs, and they can be made from all sorts of repurposed containers, such as disused sinks and large planters.

First, dig a hole in your garden, then clean your chosen container. Fill a pond basket with aquatic compost, oxygenating plants and pea gravel and place it on a brick in the pond before topping up the water level. Create a ramp to allow wildlife to access it and a landing platform for birds, such as a large stone that just breaks the surface of the water.

garden pond
Masako Ishida/Uefuji(maco-nonch) - Getty Images

Which plants are the best to grow around a pond?

'Think about light levels, scent, wildlife and year-round colour,' says Angus Hale, senior gardener at the National Trust's Belton Estate in Lincolnshire. 'I use low-growing plants, such as hostas, interspersed with arum and calla lilies. Sunny areas are ideal for acers, loved for their crimson, gold or fuchsia-pink leaves.

'Grow smaller varieties in pots around your pond. Shade-loving ferns and grasses will add texture and interest. Scabious is ideal for attracting birds, bees and butterflies and if your pond is near a fence, consider trailing honeysuckle too. I love to plant hellebores for winter interest and, in spring, enjoy the sweet flowers of sarcococca. Ceratophyllum will oxygenate your pond and keep the water clean.'

a group of purple flowers
Massimiliano Finzi - Getty Images

What should I think about when adding a water feature?

In addition to the benefits water brings to wildlife, it does us good too – the sound of running water is proven to soothe and relax. So why not consider a water feature that will offer a gentle trickling soundtrack outdoors?

Think about what would suit your garden in terms of size and style and position plants to soften any hard lines or disguise equipment at the base – and create a focal point that will look and sound fantastic at any time of year.

beautiful backyard landscape design view of colorful trees and decorative trimmed bushes and rocks
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