An expert from one of the North East’s most iconic gardens has shared his top tips on how to keep your outdoor space looking healthy, as the region faces another hot spell this weekend.

As temperatures are expected to heat up, George Swordy, Deputy Head Gardener at The Alnwick Garden, says that there are many ways you can keep your garden looking fresh without wasting precious water resources.


During the recent spell of hot weather in June, Northumbrian Water saw a huge increase in water demand – which was largely down to customers reaching for hosepipes and sprinklers to tend to their gardens.


But George, who looks after some of nature’s most beautiful and dangerous plants all year round, says that it is unnecessary to waste water when trying to get the best out of your outdoor space.


The expert gardener said: “You should water your plants, fruit and veg first thing in morning before sun gets too high in the sky. Not only does this minimise the risk of burning any leaves, but it also means you are wasting less water too.


“You should also never leave your sprinklers on overnight. It is counter-productive, because when it's wet and dark, it will encourage snails and slugs to come out and they will eat your plants.”


Northumbrian Water has recently launched an appeal for local residents to be more mindful of their water usage in a bid to protect the environment.


Research has shown that by using a hosepipe for one hour, you can waste up to 100L of water – the equivalent of 66 standard-size kettles full.


Martin Lunn, Head of Water Service Planning at Northumbrian Water, added: “Everyone wants their garden to look great, especially as we are still spending a lot of time at home.


“But George has shown that we do not need to waste our valuable water resources to keep our outdoor spaces looking good.


“During the last heatwave in June, we saw a big rise in demand overnight as people left their sprinklers running – however we know that grass can survive for four to six weeks without being watered.


“Although our water resources are healthy for this time of year, we want to encourage our customers to use water wisely, so that we protect our environment for future generations.”


George’s top tips: 

  • Water your plants, fruit and veg first thing in morning. Plants take water better in the morning than they do in the evening and it minimises the risk of burning any leaves (which can happen when very hot). Not much water is needed here.
  • Don't leave your sprinklers on overnight. As most garden pests try to avoid the rising sun, watering for a necessary amount of time at the start of your day will give your plants the best opportunity to thrive.
  • At The Alnwick Garden, we use a straw mulch called Strulch on top of our plants as it retains moisture and stops the soil drying out quickly. These are sold at the Plant Centre on site.

For more water-saving advice, go to 


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