Best products to conserve water and still care for your garden during the hosepipe ban

·14-min read

With most of the UK now under hosepipe bans, you may be wondering how you’re going to keep your garden green.

And, while we’ve just experienced the longest dry spell in over a century – and with the pundits telling us we’d better get used to it – it’s definitely time for everyone to get their water-conservation hats on. If only, you may be thinking, our water companies would do the same: latest figures from the Water Services Regulation Authority points the finger at five private water suppliers – South West Water, Southern Water, Thames Water, Yorkshire Water and South East Water – who waste 1,259.20 megalitres between them per day. That’s the equivalent of 15,740,000 baths!

What does a hosepipe ban mean?

A hosepipe means you cannot do the following with a standard garden hose:

What can we do for our gardens?

For starters, we can mulch, which means laying a good thick layer of bark, wood chipping, leaf mould or compost around the base of plants to help retain water in the soil by preventing evaporation.

We can also begin to switch over to plants that don’t require as much water or which positively like drier conditions. For a good round-up of these, check out the Royal Horticultural Society’s list.

Other ways to cut down on water use include watering cans, soaker hoses and drip-line irritation systems, both of which get the water down near the soil where it’s wanted and are not usually included in hosepipe bans.

There are those who propose hard landscaping, such as paving slabs and concrete terraces, over at least part of our gardens, to cut down on the areas that need watering. However, this somewhat defeats the purpose of allowing as much land to soak up water as possible when it does rain and can cause run-off problems, so it’s not a solution we would defend.

The number one thing to do is start collecting your own water. Rainwater, for instance, is free, which you’ll appreciate if you’re on a meter. As is so-called grey water. That’s the stuff you’ve used to wash and rinse your dishes with, for instance, though it also describes any water that’s been used for something else first and then used on your garden or saved for later in your water butt.

What should you look for in a water butt?

Size is probably the most important requirement when it comes to storage. And, if you’ve got the room, bigger is always going to be better, so aim for the largest one you can accommodate.

Next is material. Plastic, though not the most eco stuff, is light and durable, and you can expect a plastic water butt to last for years.

If price is a consideration, plastic is also going to be your cheapest option, but there are some very handsome-looking options out there – worth considering if aesthetics are important to you – in a higher price range.

Bear in mind how you’ll get the water from the butt to your plants. They usually come with a tap near the bottom, so you can fill a watering can, but a pump can be a real boon if you want to attach a hose.

Finally, there’s the little matter of how to collect rainwater. Of course, you can just leave the lid off and hope enough finds its way inside, but a gutter diverter is going to make it all happen a lot faster.

Shop the best products below for water conservation

Water butts

200L Garden Lake Water Butt with Stand and Diverter

Best for: Getting everything you need in one solution

This one has it all and comes at a cost-of-living-crisis price. Its large capacity is ideal for serious water conservation, it’s lightweight, and comes complete with a stand, tap, childproof lid and a down pipe diverter, so you don’t need to buy anything else to get going.

It’s made from recycled plastic – always a bonus – and has a cute barrel-effect look (though let’s be honest, it’s not going to fool anyone). The diverter kit conveniently fits standard 68mm round or 65mm square plastic down pipes from your guttering. If you want a reliably well-made water butt to beat a hosepipe ban at a sensible price, this is going to be your go-to.

Buy now £59.99, Water Butts Direct

300L Helena Amphora Water Butt

Best for: If you want an exceptionally large water butt that adds interest

If you’re looking to make an impression, this terracotta-effect water butt will help you conserve water for when hosepipe bans kick in and add a point of interest to your garden in one fell swoop.

Although it’s made from weather and UV-resistant polyethylene, which means it’s light and durable, it looks realistically like it’s made from clay, so it will be at home among your flower pots. It holds a generous 300 litres and comes with an attractive brass 3/4" BSP tap, which adds to the high-spec vibe of it.

Interestingly, one side has a more distressed look than the other, so you can decide how antique you want to go and there are tap connection points on both sides.

Buy now £347.99, Water Butts Direct

250L Barrique Oak Wood Effect Water Butt Barrel

Best for: When you want to disguise your water butt as an attractive feature

Another jumbo-sized water butt to satisfy all your water conservation desires – and remember, we did say bigger was better! This hosepipe ban buster has an oak-wood effect surface and looks convincingly like a barrel, with a lot of realistic detail, ideal if you’re going for a rustic image.

It’s made from polyethylene and weighs in at a substantial 9.8kgs, so it won’t fall about. It comes with a handsome brass 3/4” BSP tap and there’s an additional lower outlet in case you want to completely empty the barrel, as well as a child-safe lid and a bracket to attach it to a wall.

Buy now £259.99, Water Butts Direct

Ward 210L Water Butt

Best for: If you want lots of water storage at a sensible price

This big guy ticks all the boxes for water conservation and could well see you through a hosepipe ban. It’s made of recycled HDPE, a durable plastic that’s scratch and dink resistant, so it will look good for years.

HDPE is also an environmentally-stable plastic, so it doesn’t leach fumes and doesn’t take much energy to create. And, although it’s a whopping 210 litres big, so you can store a heck of a lot of water, it’s light as a feather, so it’s easy to move about and into position when it’s empty.

It comes with a stand, so you can easily fit a watering can underneath the tap. An extra you’ll probably want to get is a gutter diverter so that water from your down pipe will end up in it.

Buy now £52.00, B&Q

Water butt accessories

Strata Rainwater Diverter Kit

Best for: A simple solution for getting water from gutter to water butt

A sturdy construction makes this a good choice for channeling rainwater from your guttering into your water butt to beat any hosepipe ban. It fits either a standard 68mm round or 65mm square down pipe, which are the most common sizes in the UK.

It’s useful to know that the connecting hose is 50cm long and the diverter will automatically revert to sending water down the pipe once your water butt is full. Another useful tip: if your water butt is more than 50cm from the gutter’s down pipe, it’s relatively easy to fit a piece of garden hose into the diverter hose to extend it.

Buy now £14.99, Water Butts Direct

FloPlast Black Round & Square Gutter Diverter

Best for: Being suitable for both round and square gutters

If you buy a water butt that doesn’t come with a gutter diverter, you’re going to want one of these. Basically, what it does is divert the water that would normally just flow down your gutter’s down pipe and into the drain into your water butt instead.

This one can be fitted to either a standard round or square pipe, is easy to install and, cleverly, when the butt is full, it will stop diverting water into it and send it back down the pipe into the drain, so you won’t have a flood of overflow. It’s also available in white if that’s the colour of your guttering and you want to go matchy-matchy.

Buy now £14.11, B&Q

Greenworks G24SWP Cordless Submersible Water Pump

Best for: A powerful workhorse at a good price

Once you’ve collected rain or grey water in your butt, you may want to do more with it than just fill a watering can, which is where a water pump comes in. These will power your very own hosepipe ban work-around, by allowing you to spray your garden after all with your very own water.

It is easy to install and comes with a nozzle that features eight spray modes and will work with any 24 volt Greenworks battery (sold separately, from £40 on Amazon) – useful if you already own another Greenworks product. It has a satisfyingly powerful spray and lots of uses, from washing the dog to filling a paddling pool.

Buy now £109.99, Amazon

Hozelock 7612 0000 Waterbutt Pump

Best for: A no-fuss water pump for the handy challenged

An easy-to-install solution for watering your garden that’s simple to operate and comes ready to use. Just pop the pump into your water butt, attach your hose or irrigation system and, hey presto, you’re ready to go.

It puts out up to 2,200 litres an hour with 1.1 bar pressure for a strong flow up to 35 metres, and has automatic shut-off if the water in your butt gets too low. The pump itself is 15cm in diameter, so will fit inside even a smaller water butt. This hosepipe ban averter comes with a reassuring two-year guarantee from a well-known, best-selling brand.

Buy now £70.98, Amazon

Watering cans

Sankey Green Plastic Watering Can 13L

Best for: Large gardens or allotments

This uber-large watering can can tote 13 litres of water, so it’s ideal for larger gardens or allotments. It comes with a sturdy plastic rose and is made from lightweight HDPE, one of the most eco plastics, because of its low energy requirement for production and because the final product doesn’t leach fumes into the atmosphere. It’s also completely recyclable, which gives it another up tick.

The long, sturdy handle means you can wield it with two hands – useful when it’s full – and the long neck makes it easy to get into tight spaces or reach plants at the back of the border. A great choice for coping with a hosepipe ban.

Buy now £14.00, B&Q

Galvanised Watering Can 10L

Best for: When you want every tool to look as good as it performs

The watering can to put all mortal watering cans in the shade, this hosepipe ban defeater shines out its beauty. What’s that you say? A watering can isn’t beautiful? You haven’t met this generous 10 litre waterer’s best friend.

The galvanised steel is lightweight and will keep its good looks for years. Not the cheapest option out there, but if you’re going for that ‘my garden tools would look just right in a House Beautiful shoot’, this one will get you all the ’stige. It’s also available in 1.5 and 5 litre options, but we’re sold on the big guy.

Buy now £45.00, Garden Trading

Elho Green Basics Watering Can 52

Best for: Watering with an ultra-green conscience

At just 0.64 kilograms, this lightweight, sturdy watering can that holds two litres is just the ticket for giving your garden a good soaking with fewer trips to the tap. There’s a generous-sized large top hole that lets you fill up quickly and the grip is super-comfy.

The Elho brand is known for its sustainable practices and this clever can has eco credentials that are second to none: it’s made from recycled plastic that’s produced using wind power and is 100 per cent recyclable when – if? – you ever decide to replace it. But why would you, when it does the job so well.

Buy now £19.94, Amazon

Irrigation solutions

HydroSure Micro 15m Drip Line Irrigation System

Best for: Creating a permanent solution to a hose-pipe ban

For a complete water-reducing way to irrigate your garden or allotment, this system really can’t be beat and a drip-line isn’t usually included in a hosepipe ban.

It comes in four lengths, starting at 15 metres and going up to 100, so you can cover your whole plot. It’s simple to set up: just lay the hose and insert the drippers at 15 centimetre intervals. When it’s attached to your tap, it will water at the rate of two litres an hour and can be set up with a timer (not included) to look after your garden if you’re going away.

Because the water is targeted to individual plants and goes straight into the soil, and thus gets where it’s need at their roots, it uses 70 per cent less water than a standard hose. It comes with stakes to keep the hose firmly in the ground, tees so that you can bend the hose around corners without creating kinks, a tap connector, a pressure regulator and everything else you need to set this system up.

Buy now £23.51, Water Irrigation

HydroSure 15m Soaker Hose Plus with Flow Control

Best for: A year-round watering solution

A low-volume soaker hose is usually acceptable during a hosepipe ban and is a clever way of making sure water reaches the parts of your plants that actually need it, as opposed to simply scattering on leaves and stems.

The hose lies on the ground and the water leaches out of the porous rubber directly into the soil to the roots. To get the most out of this model, lay the hose flat, avoid creating kinks and, ideally, cover it with a thin layer of mulch to prevent water evaporation in summer and to protect it in winter.

Attach it to the tap of – ideally – your water butt and it will use 70 per cent less water than a normal hose. This one has flow control and comes with a valve connector, two hose-end connectors and a joint connector so you can attach it to your tap and other hoses.

Buy now £12.35, Water Irrigation

Hozelock 25m Porous Soaker Hose

Best for: Keeping young plants watered while they get established

Another great product from the UK’s favourite garden tool brand that comes with the reassuring standard Hozelock two-year guarantee.

The kit includes connectors to attach to a tap and to more hoses to extend the length. There’s also an end stop so the water doesn’t dribble out. It’s easy to cut if you want to create, say, two shorter lengths, and easy to use.

Just lay it flat on the ground near to plants, attach to your water butt tap and away you go. You can leave it on the ground in between waterings, though it’s a good idea to cover it with a light layer of mulch both to protect the hose from the elements and so that it doesn’t stand out.

Buy now £43.53, Amazon