Saving water outdoors

Many people use tap water to wash the car or water plants, or just for recreation in the garden. On average, outdoor water use accounts for around 7% of total household use across the year - however, in dry periods this can rise considerably.

In fact, a hosepipe or sprinkler left on for an hour uses the same amount of water that a family of four would normally use in two days. 

For information on using water wisely in the garden, see the sections below.

Waterless car cleaning?


If you want to ditch the hose but get your vehicle gleaming, look at products from Save Water Save Money.

With a watering can, ideally filled from a water butt, its easier to make sure you don't over-water the garden and apply water only where it is really needed. Over-watering can damage your lawn and plants by encouraging shallow rooting, as well as those pesky slugs and snails. In prolonged dry periods grass will go brown, but it will recover when the rains come. For more information on keeping your lawn healthy, there are factsheets available on the Turfgrass Growers Association website.

To dispense with the hosepipe whilst keeping your garden healthy -  our tips are to:

  • Use water storage gels or granules in pot plants and hanging baskets
  • Collect rainwater in water butts
  • Choose drought resistant shrubs and flowers - download our Drought Resistant Gardening leaflet for a list of suitable plants
  • Mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and weeds using wood chippings, gravel or bark
  • Wait until autumn to plant trees, shrubs and climbers. They will establish quicker and need less watering.
  • Add organic matter to soil before planting to improve water availability and drainage
  • Create shade and shelter to reduce water lost through evaporation

For water efficient garden products, including water butts, gel mats and hand-pump pressure washers, visit our Save Water Save Money gardening section.


We joined forces with three other water companies to create an inspiring water efficienct garden at the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This prestigious show attracts more than 160,000 visitors from all over the world every year.

Our "Climate Calm" garden was created by award winning designer Nicholas Dexter and reflected the cracks in the earth produced by prolonged, dry weather during droughts.

It also demonstrated a dynamic method of irrigation with rainwater, which was collected and stored in a water butt which overflowed into a retaining pool. Water from the pool irrigated channels running through the garden - an old technique originating from Persia.

All the plants used in the garden design are featured in our Drought Resistant Gardening leaflet (pdf). And natural hedging and trees added structure and shade to the garden, which was also a haven for wildlife with a minimal carbon footprint.