After two months of near drought in many parts of the UK, many gardeners are rejoicing the forecasts of rain in the early part of this week.


However with the ground baked hard after such a long spell of dry weather, heavy downpours could result in significant run off which may not reach plants. To make the most of the much-needed rain, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has shared their expert advice for how to make small but significant adaptations to our gardens.

How to prepare your garden for rainfall

Install water butts

To make the most of this week's rainfall, the RHS is advising to install water butts where you can. These can be attached not only to garages and sheds but also house downpipes and greenhouse roofs and range in size from 30-250 litres.

One filled 210-litre water butt can provide enough water to keep ten medium containers (30cm) going through dry conditions from May to September.

Alternatively, instead of water butts, use buckets or any large watertight containers you can find to capture rainwater – but it's best to divert the water from a roof as individually, left out in the rain, they may only catch a few millimetres at a time.

Direct rainwater

Help direct rainwater to where it is most needed by digging out a hollow, dip, or even just a dish-like shallow ring around a plant to hold water while it soaks into the ground. Sloping areas of gardens could benefit from a swale at the base to capture runoff.

Spike your lawn

Using a garden fork, spike your lawn 10cm deep every 10-15cm. This will perforate the surface compaction of your lawn and help prevent runoff. However the RHS advises not to spike compact clay lawns as this could cause more damage.


Digging in or mulching with organic matter, such as well-rotted garden compost can help to store rainfall in beds. According to the RHS, mulching can store the equivalent of 31mm of rain or 20 days’ supply over time. Read more about mulching in our expert guide.


Read our guide to drought-tolerant plants and how to save water in the garden.