Six hosepipe hacks to see you through the drought

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It is a grave situation, both for the burning planet as a whole and, just as importantly, for our precious peonies
It is a grave situation, both for the burning planet as a whole and, just as importantly, for our precious peonies

Following the driest July since 1935, hosepipe bans have already been put in place in south east and southern England. More are expected to follow as the long, hot summer broils on; Thames Water and South West Water have both indicated they may need to enforce restrictions in the coming weeks.

It is a grave situation, both for the burning planet as a whole and, just as importantly, for our precious peonies. Water companies are actively encouraging curtain-twitchers to reactivate their lockdown antennae and grass neighbours up for wasting water. Dissidents could receive a written warning or, in some cases, go to court and be fined up to £1,000.

There must be another way, you might think, weighing up whether to let your Saab 90 go without a clean and polish for a week or face trial by Janet At Number 53. There must be creative loopholes. Luckily, for the brave and possibly foolish, there are.

  1. Health and safety trumps a drought, so you’re free to cool yourself down by turning the hose on yourself if you feel faint, or give the kids a quick spritz if they're looking woozy. Remember, though: get them to have their dizzy spell standing in front of the veg patch. Otherwise it’s a waste.

  2. Get your dog, take him to the woods, chuck him in the canal, then make his day by inviting him to roll in the mud/dust near the towpath. Animals are exempt, as keeping your pet clean is a welfare issue, so later you just need to position your filthy hound next to whatever you need to water – the flowers, the car, your father-in-law – and wash the dog elaborately.

  3. You are allowed to fill a pool, pond or fountain where fish are being kept, for their welfare. So get a whole sea bream from the fishmonger and lob it in your paddling pool before you fill it for yourself. Nobody said it had to be alive already.

  4. Get your mates over for a game of football in honour of the Lionesses. South East Water says that outside the hours of 8am to 10am and 5pm to 9pm, you can water “grass or outdoor artificial surfaces used for sport or recreation”. If you happen to have a goal or a bowls lawn in your back garden, you might just get away with it. To go fully method, sing Sweet Caroline on the hour every hour.

  5. Just laid a new lawn? If not, now might be a good moment, as the lucky owners of brand-new turf are exempt from the ban – you’re allowed to water away for 28 days after it was planted. Potted plants and those “in the ground under cover” in a greenhouse or outbuilding are also exempt. So lay a new lawn every 28 days until the flood comes.

  6. Most importantly, there’s no ban on using grey water. Anything that would otherwise go down the drain is fair game – although some plants won’t respond well to grease or washing up liquid, and nor will Saab 90s. It’s well documented, too, that Epsom salts can improve flowering and deter pests. Research has not been done on Saab 90s, however. So run yourself a cooling bath... forget to get in it... and treat your thirsty garden. Unless she has a new telescope, Janet will never know.

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