Celebrity gardener Charlie Dimmock launches a campaign to encourage the purchase of drought-resistant plants, before hosepipe bans hit large parts of the UK.

Celebrity gardener Charlie Dimmock

Seven water companies are bringing in water restrictions that will affect 20 million people across the south and east of England from Thursday, ahead of the Easter weekend.

Thames Water said its hosepipe ban, which will apply to 8.8 million customers, was about prioritising the most important uses of water and made it less likely that tougher restrictions, for example on businesses, would be needed later in the year.

Richard Aylard, the company's sustainability director, said: "keeping everyone's kitchen and bathroom taps supplied has to take precedence over manicured lawns".

He warned that running a sprinkler for an hour used as much water as a family of four required in a day.

If you plan your drought garden you can get as much enjoyment out of tending plants which are better equipped to deal with a drier soil, like lavender and bergenia. Charlie Dimmock

To help gardeners beat the dry weather, the former Ground Force presenter suggests planing drought-resistant plants such as lavender and bergenia, as well as watering plants in the morning or evening so that less water evaporates and more gets to the plant.

"Gardeners love to spend time outside in the spring and summer tending to their lawns and arranging their plants," said Ms Dimmock.

"That doesn't have to change but we need to take a different approach this year. It's been one of the driest two-year periods on record and we have to make sure we all work together to enjoy our gardens, but also to be responsible and considerate.

"If you plan your drought garden you can get as much enjoyment out of tending plants which are better equipped to deal with a drier soil, like lavender and bergenia."

Get the weather forecast in your region with the Channel 4 Weather service. 

Other drought-beating advice for gardeners includes mulching plants to help them retain water, using water from the kitchen sinks or baths, keeping borders well-weeded to stop weeds competing for water and not mowing lawns too short.

The Thames Water ban forbids the use of a hosepipe for watering a garden or plants on a domestic property, for cleaning a car or leisure boat, windows or paths, patios and other artificial surfaces and for filling a paddling pool or domestic swimming pool, a pond or ornamental fountain.

The other companies bringing in water restrictions from Thursday are: Southern Water, South East Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East.

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