Gardening: HRH expert tips to make the most of the coming rain | Science | New

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The RHS said: “With the ground baked hard after two months of near-drought, heavy downpours could bring heavy runoff.” This runoff, they added, “may not reach the plants and could lead to localized flooding.” The charity recommends a number of measures gardeners should use to make the most of the rain when it finally arrives.

At the top of the list, installing water harvesters where possible to collect rainwater from downspouts in homes, garages, greenhouses and sheds.

The RHS said: ‘A full 210 liter water tank can provide enough water to sustain ten medium containers in dry conditions from May to September.

“And a shed could fill up to 18 water tanks in an average rainy year in the south of England.

“An alternative is to use buckets and recycle any large waterproof containers you can find to catch rainwater.

“But it’s better to divert water from a roof as, individually, left in the rain [these] can only grab a few millimeters at a time.

Experts have also recommended that gardeners help direct rainwater to where it’s needed most by digging a trough or even a shallow ring around plants to help hold rainwater in place while it’s needed. ‘it seeps into the ground.

Sloping garden areas, they added, could benefit from a swale at their base to capture runoff.

Lawns can also benefit from reinforcement – to a depth of four inches for every four to six inches – where there is concern that compaction may prevent rainwater from penetrating into the soil.

However, the RHS warned that ‘more compact clay lawns may be best left alone as the spikes could cause more damage’.

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RHS Senior Adviser Leigh Hunt says: “Hobby and professional gardeners alike will rejoice when the rains finally return.

“But to make sure it’s directed where it’s needed most, gardeners can do simple things to make collection easier – by making sure that water tanks and any other water-collecting devices are ready – and absorption, such as spreading compacted lawns and building trenches around the plants most in need.

“This summer has undoubtedly proven to be an endurance test for plants and the 30 million gardeners who care for them.

“It will undoubtedly influence what we see planted in our gardens and communities and how the plots are managed in the future.”

When it comes to water harvesting, the RHS is taking its own advice to the next level – installing a giant water tank in its flagship garden in Wisley, Surrey.

The gigantic container – which has the average size of 42,000 water butts – will collect enough rainwater to sustain the site’s ten-acre woodland garden during periods of drought.

The giant butt will collect water from the new Hilltop building at RHS Garden Wisley.

More advice on collecting and using water in gardens can be found on the RHS and Cranfield University Mains to Rains website.

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