After a severe drought in the south east of England in 2006, followed by one of the wettest summers on record in 2007, gardeners may be wary of what the summer of 2008 has in store.
Whatever the weather, the Consumer Council for Water has tips to help keep gardens in tip top condition this summer.
Take advantage of wet weather by installing a water butt, which collects rain water from a downpipe running from the roof, shed or greenhouse.
Water butts are available at garden centres and from most water companies. At around £40, a water butt could be well worth the investment for those on a water meter, who can use the collected rainwater for gardening and washing the car, instead of paying to use tap water through a hosepipe.
A hosepipe can spout up to 18 litres of water per minute, and watering the lawn with a sprinkler can use up to 1000 litres of water every hour. This is the same amount of water that an average family of four uses in a day.
To avoid wasting this much drinking quality water in the garden, fill a watering can from the water butt and target plants or patches of lawn that need it the most.
Those without a water butt can save water too by washing vegetables or dishes in a bowl then using the left-over water on indoor or outdoor plants.
Watering the garden early in the morning or late in the evening can help prevent water from evaporating too quickly, so more gets to the roots where it is needed. Using mulches in the garden such as wood chips, bark or gravel also help prevent evaporation.
Remember, lawns can survive long periods of dry weather if the grass is not cut too short, and watering plants too often causes the roots to remain shallow.
To help water thirstier plants more efficiently, pierce a small hole in the bottom of a plastic drink bottle and sink it in the soil. Top up as necessary to keep water at the roots of the plants where it is needed most, rather than simply wetting the surface.
For more information on water saving tips in the garden and home go to http://www.ccwater.org.uk and click on ‘Use Water Wisely’.