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Planning Retirement Online

Laterlife Gardening Review

 by Rosemary Martin

Each month I review a particular aspect of gardening, including new plants and products and where to buy them. Gardening is a vast subject and as far as possible the subjects covered will be seasonal.

Please e-mail me (Rosemary) with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife


As well as the spotlight topic below, take a look at the Gardener's Diary, if you haven't already done so. It includes all those jobs in the garden for July.

July - 2002

Water conservation

In recent years we have become more aware of the fact that although we are an island and surrounded by water, there has been a greater demand by all of us on our fresh water, and with many people having a metered water supply, the need to conserve that precious commodity has become even more important. On this page I have hopefully given some useful information about water storage, usage and conservation:

In the garden  

  • Conserving water in the soil in the first place will reduce the need for further watering during the dryer periods. Most of the water arrives in the winter when it is least needed.  

  • Reducing evaporation in the soil will also reduce the need for watering. If your soil has a dense covering of plants, the hot sun will not get through, the ground will stay cooler and water will evaporate less. 

  • Conserve rain water by diverting it into storage facilities or ponds, from your house, garage and greenhouse roofs. This will save you money if you have a water meter, and plants and fish will thrive on natural rain water rather than hard tap water with chemicals in it.. Ensure that leaves and debris are kept out of the storage facility by fixing a mesh grill to act as a filter. Water storage facilities need to be light proof and situated in a cool part of the garden. 

  • Using mulches on the soil will conserve water and add goodness to the soil. Mulches can be bark, compost, coco-shells or even grass cuttings. If you do use grass cuttings, be careful that they don`t turn into a solid mat that prevents rain from penetrating. I find mushroom compost good value for money and have recently had two lorry loads delivered, which has given me a three inch covering on all of my borders.  

  • Increase water retention in soil by ensuring there is a high level of organic matter worked in. Have a go at making your own compost using vegetable peelings, used tea bags, grass cuttings, used compost and of course plants that have finished flowering. You can also use organic material that has been shredded.  Mine never looks quite as good as in books or on TV, but it does an admirable job.  

  • Watering your garden is best done in the later part of the day when it is cooler, and preferably not windy. Only water the garden when the plants look a little sorry for themselves and give the soil a thorough soaking, getting right down to the roots. Don`t worry about your lawn - even though it may turn brown through lack of water -  it will survive, and soon green up when the rain comes. You may consider an irrigation system worth installing, it is something I would certainly do if my garden were smaller. 

In the house

  • Saving waste household water for the garden will save you money if your water supply is metered. Much waste water is suitable for watering plants, and down pipes from baths and sinks can be fitted with diverters which allow the water to be collected. Be aware that waste household water needs using fairly quickly as it will soon become stagnant, and don`t attempt to recycle water from toilets or dishwashers.    

  • A shower will use far less water than a bath, but if you prefer bathing, try to share a bath with a friend as the authorities told us to do in previous water shortages! To save wasting water, fill kettles only with the required amount of water, put a brick in the toilet cistern, and finally, don`t leave taps running...  



The chemical companies make a fortune out of weedkillers and for those who like tidy neat gardens with little effort, they are a necessity. The following chemicals serve all my different weeding needs:

  • Pathclear  is applied once a year, in the Spring,  on my patio, drive and path areas. It keeps these areas weed-free for the whole season.

  • Weed and Feed is for the lawn and has the dual purpose of killing most lawn weeds as well as feeding the lawn.

  • Verdone Lawn Weedkiller kills off the clover and other stubborn weeds that the Weed and Feed doesn`t tackle, and may need a couple of applications.

  • Verdone Spot Weeder for Lawns zaps those stubborn weeds that lurk in the lawn. Won`t hurt the grass.

  • Tough Weed Gun takes care of those stubborn weeds that keep popping up in difficult places. It can be used between plants and won`t sink into the soil. 

  • Roundup is for the stubborn stuff such as Dandelions, docks, nettles, bindweed, thistles and brambles. 

I am gradually eliminating all the weeds from our garden having lived here for three years, and putting a thick mulch on the borders has definitely zapped the weeds there. However the annual weeds such as the prolific `Rose Bay Willow Herb` will always be around and will just get pulled out as they appear. It can be quite therapeutic to do a spot of weeding by hand, and is one of the pottering sort of jobs that I enjoy, much like dead-heading the flowers that are finished... 



Next month I will be spotlighting taking cuttings..  

Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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