Gardens Illustrated
Gardening with a hose pipe
© Getty/ElvaEtienne

Everything you need to know about hosepipe bans

Published: August 11, 2022 at 9:00 pm
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Water companies sometimes impose hosepipe bans when temperatures soar. Here we tell you everything you need to know about hosepipe bans and whether there are any in the UK right now

As temperatures sky-rocket in the UK to record-breaking highs, many gardeners will be tackling drought in their gardens. The UK recorded a temperature of 40.2 degrees celsius on 19 July 2022 at Heathrow, breaking the previous record of 38.7 degrees recorded in Cambridge in July 2019.

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Hosepipe ban

Is there a hosepipe ban in the UK?

Yes, there are some hosepipe bans coming into force in UK, but not for all areas. At the moment, there are several hosepipe bans in place, the Isle of Man, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. South East Water has also announced a hosepipe ban for Kent and Sussex. This is due to a lack of rainfall and extreme temperatures, and aims to protect the river habitats that the water is extracted from. The use of hosepipes to water gardens, clean cars and fill pools will be restricted.

What about hosepipe bans in other parts of the country?

Water companies keep track of how much water they have in reserve against how much water people are using in order to track whether bans will be necessary. Hosepipe Ban have cited Environment Agency data and said that 'water stocks are currently at healthy levels for this time of year', summarising that 'the prospect of a hosepipe ban in 2022 is very unlikely.' So, as water levels in most areas are currently not dangerously low, other water companies haven't felt the need to impose any bans. Anglian Water is still ruling out a hosepipe ban in the east despite facing the driest summer for 46 years.

Flora Grubb's drought tolerant garden in California
© Caitlin Atkinson

What is a hosepipe ban?

A hosepipe ban is a ban on using excessive water due to water shortage. Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, during a water shortage utility companies may prohibit the following uses of water:

  • watering a garden using a hosepipe

  • cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe

  • watering plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe

  • cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe

  • filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool

  • drawing water, using a hosepipe, for domestic recreational use

  • filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe

  • filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain

  • cleaning walls, or windows, of domestic premises using a hosepipe

  • cleaning paths or patios using a hosepipe

  • cleaning other artificial outdoor surfaces using a hosepipe

During a hosepipe ban you can still water your garden with the use of a watering can. If you break the rules of a ban though, you could face a hefty fine of up to £1000.

How much water does a hosepipe use?

Every ten minutes, the average hosepipe will use 170 litres of water. According to Southern Water, a sprinkler can use as much water in one hour as a family of four in a whole day. So even if there isn't a hosepipe ban, cutting down on automated watering systems in the garden can be a good idea and be better environmentally.

When was the last hosepipe ban in the UK?

As hosepipe bans are enforced by individual water companies, they often come into force in different parts of the country at different times. In the last few years, a notable ban was brought in in August 2018 by United Utilities which affected 7 million people in the North West of England.

Other ways to water the garden

Watering the garden can be done using a watering can, especially if you have lots of things in pots. This means you can give specific plants the optimum amount of water instead of giving the garden a general soak. It's also a good idea to collect rain water in water butts. This saves on using mains water, it's good for the environment and plants often prefer rainwater.

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Click here for more info on when to water plants in hot weather.

Authors

Molly Blair
Molly Blaireditorial and digital assistant

Molly is the Gardens Illustrated's editorial and digital assistant. She has a roof garden and has her RHS level 2.

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