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10 ways to conquer the parch enemy.

OKAY, so the heavens have opened and your spring blooms are lapping it up. But drier weather will soon be upon us and, as previous summers have shown, will take its toll on your garden. So don't get caught out - follow our ten tips to see your plot safely through the hot months.

BEWARE of over-watering - it washes topsoil from the grass roots, leaving it struggling for water and prone to scorching. Water the lawn once a week - frequent applications of small amounts encourage shallow roots - and keep your mower blades higher to allow the grass to retain moisture.

TOO much water also starves plants of oxygen. Don't spray everywhere - target water at the roots.

MULCHING, that is covering soil with leaves, compost or shredded newspapers, will reduce water loss. It lowers soil temperature, keeps away weeds and holds moisture in the soil.

CHOOSE plants that need less water - Californian lilac and lavender; hardy perennials such as irises or catmint; shrubs such as holly, or hardy perennials such as cotonester and bergenia.

TOO much water on your vegetables can produce bigger plants without increasing the size of the part you eat, and it can dilute the flavour. Vegetables need moisture most at seeding time and when they have been transplanted.

Parsnips, turnips, swedes, carrots, asparagus and onions need little water, while cabbages and lettuce need lots. Water fruiting vegetables such as peas and beans just after flowering and when the pods are swelling.

USE butts for outside watering. Some plants thrive on rainwater rather than tap water. Why waste your washing up water - throw it on the garden.

A SPRINKLER left on for an hour can use as much water as a family of four would in a day. In summer, lots of the water from the sprinkler will evaporate before it reaches the ground.

TO avoid this, water plants in the evening, at night, or in the early morning so less water evaporates.

KEEP down the weeds - your flowers and shrubs will have to compete with them for water.

CHECK all hosepipe fittings, taps and pipes to prevent waste through leaks. If you need a hosepipe get one with a trigger nozzle so the water can't run to waste.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ball, Amanda
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 18, 1998
Previous Article:Time for a smart move; MAKE MOST OF FALLING FEES.
Next Article:How to grow new plants for nothing; Your garden.

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