You've probably noticed your garden lawn and local green spaces looking extremely parched the last few weeks. This has been a common sight across the UK, particularly in south east England, which saw only 7 per cent of its normal rainfall in July.

Last month England experienced its driest July since 1935, with a record-breaking heatwave that saw temperatures reach over 40°C, and lower than average rainfall across much of the country. This has resulted in low river flows across much of England, and reservoir levels falling across Yorkshire, central and south-west England.

Are we facing a drought in the UK?

At an emergency meeting held last Tuesday 26 July, the National Drought Group moved England into "Prolonged Dry Weather" status, which is the stage before a drought.

While a drought hasn't yet been declared, the Met Office forecasts potentially several more dry weeks ahead – particularly in the south and southeast England – so the Environment Agency and water companies are now enacting their early stages drought plans and are calling on everyone to do their bit in managing water use.

Is there a hosepipe ban in the UK?

So far hosepipe bans have been announced by Southern Water for customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (starting 5 August), by South East Water for customers in Kent and Sussex (starting 12 August), and by South West Water for customers in Devon and Cornwall (starting 23 August).

While other water companies haven't yet imposed hose pipe bans, customers in the south of England and the Midlands have been encouraged to use less water.

Here's everything you need to know about hosepipe bans.

How to look after your garden during dry weather

Save water During this period of prolonged dry weather, gardeners are being encouraged to use water wisely to protect water supplies and the environment. This involves avoiding use of hosepipes and sprinklers, opting instead for watering cans filled with water from a water butt, or reusing grey water. Read more water-saving ideas.

Water your plants at the right time of day During hot weather it's important to water your plants at the right time of day – first thing in the morning or in the evening – avoiding full sun when the water will evaporate quickly from the soil.

Don't water your lawn A yellow, parched lawn might not look very attractive but grasses are hardy plants that can endure dry spells and will bounce back once cooler, wetter weather reappears.

Plant drought-tolerant plants Drought-tolerant plants such as salvias, phlomis and euphorbias are resilient, reliable plants that require very little water and can give your garden a beautifully Mediterranean aesthetic.

Start making long-term changes now With the effects of Climate Change it's believed the UK could experience more extremes of dry hot weather in summer and wet weather in winter. Read our feature about what you can do in your garden to help adapt to these changes.

Don't miss our piece on the best drought tolerant plants.