Coping with climate change in the garden is not just about hosepipe bans and drought-resistant planting – water efficiency can help save us from floods and droughts.
Despite the summer rain, it is still worth everyone’s time to save water and waste less. In fact, saving water can help save us from extreme flooding.
Whilst it is clear we should not build in the floodplain, we can all help reduce the impact of floods by making small behavioural changes in our own homes.
Floods and droughts becoming more extreme
Floods and droughts are both occurring naturally as part of the same problem – climate change. The British weather is changing and becoming more extreme. This means that we will see more droughts and floods in future and even both at the same time. Using water wisely can help reduce the effects of both these extremes.
One way of doing this is to install a water butt to reduce the impacts of heavy rainfall. Floods occur as a result of extreme precipitation and are worse in built up areas as more water pours off roofs and patios and along impermeable paved front gardens. We can all help reduce the flood risk by slowing the water down.
By capturing runoff water from your roof in a water butt we can reduce the impacts of heavy rainfall on the environment and therefore reduce flooding. We can then use the water when the dry times return.
In addition, try not to pave over your entire front garden as this increases water run off and creates further flooding. Use permeable surfaces like lawns and well composted soils to allow the water to soak into the ground.
This may seem trivial but when a river is about to break its banks, every drop of water saved at home can reduce the flood peak and prevent a disaster.
Practicing water efficiency protects the sewerage system too – during floods the sewerage system works overtime to treat and pump the excess water that overfills the sewers. Small behavioural changes mean that less water goes to the sewers and reduces the chance of sewage overflows.
Tips to improve drainage
Mulching provides drainage, helping plant roots survive wet soil during winter, and keeps weeds at bay.
Raised beds will provide a place for plants to grow without their roots getting waterlogged, and can be up to a metre high. You can find out more about this way of gardening in our article Raised Bed Gardening.
You can choose appropriate plants that will cope with flooding better.
One option for gardens with wet soil year-round is a bog garden, planted with hostas, primulas or other water-loving species.
For gardens where flooding is seasonal, alder, ash, river birch, silver birch, hornbeam, rowan, willow and wingnut trees don’t mind damp soil, while cherry and beech will not fare well. Shrubs and herbs generally dislike “wet feet”.
For more information on floods and droughts and water efficiency please visit: waterwise.org.uk.
For more content like Floods and droughts: how to protect your summer garden and tips for saving water in your garden visit our Gardening channel.Tags: Flooding, Gardening Last modified: July 10, 2023