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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

NI Water | Have a ‘swell’ time in the garden

Altnahinch reservoir. Picture: Michael Cooper

As we move into summer with longer drier spells, and temperatures rising in Northern Ireland, NI Water would like to remind keen gardeners how easy it is to use water wisely.

NI Water’s Environmental Outreach & Learning Officer, Anna Killen explains:

“Gardening is a great chance for us all to reconnect with nature for our physical and mental wellbeing and as we seek to add a little colour to our gardens and hanging baskets, remember, but we don’t need to increase our water use to keep our gardens blooming.

“A simple way to do this is to add water retaining swell gel crystals to the compost when planting pots and hanging baskets. This can greatly help reduce the demand for frequent watering as the crystals swell and keep plants hydrated for longer, saving both time and water!

Dungonnell reservoir. Picture: Michael Cooper

Some other tips to save water in the garden include:

• When watering plants, use a watering can instead of a hose and consider installing in a waterbutt which is a great way to collect and reuse rainwater

• Mulching around the base of plants with bark or straw can help prevent evaporation and even have the added benefit of preventing weeds which compete with plants for water

• Watering plants during cooler periods of the day also helps to prevent evaporation and ensure the water reaches the roots of the plant where it is needed

• Reduce sprinkler time - using a sprinkler to water the lawn can use as much water in an hour that a family of four uses in a day so instead of leaving it on all night, use it for an hour

• Letting the grass grow longer in dry spells – to help keep in moisture and infrequent watering with a watering can will encourage roots to search for water in deeper ground. Lawns are extremely hardy and tend to bounce back to health even after prolonged dry periods.

Killylane reservoir. Picture: Michael Cooper

Don’t forget it’s not just in the garden where we need to be mindful of the water we use, there are plenty of simple things we can do in the home:

1. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth - A running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.

2. Use a bowl for washing vegetables - You can reduce water waste by using a bowl to wash and prepare your vegetables. Then you can reuse this water for plants.

3. Make full use of your washing machine - Half load programmes on washing machines use more than half the water and energy of a full load, so wait until the machine is full before switching it on.

4. Fix leaking taps - A dripping tap can waste more than 60 litres of water per week.

Altnheglish reservoir. Picture: Michael Cooper

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon added her support:

“These are small, simple steps that all of us can make in our daily lives to use our water wisely. Over the past year, the need for our precious water supplies has never been more evident in terms of our public health. Every small change can make a big difference when we work together to protect our water supplies for the future whilst enjoying our natural environment in a sustainable way.”

Check out the reservoirs map on and find out which one serves your home.

This is a great resource for people to see where their water comes from and how full they are. We need to remember, even if a reservoir is 90% full at the moment, we are only at the start of the Spring/Summer period and just because we are water rich right now, does not give us the right to waste it; we should save now to help later.

Lough Bradan. Picture: Michael Cooper

Anna concludes:

If you want to claim a free pack of swell gel crystals, visit to discover your own water use in the garden and receive your free swell gel crystals, alongside other water saving items.”

Ben Crom. Picture: Michael Cooper


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