National Gardening Week (10-17 April)

North East people are being asked to get green-fingered to help reduce the risk of flooding as National Gardening Week (10 – 17 April) gets underway.

With more people paving over their gardens and less green space to soak up rainwater naturally, Northumbrian Water has chosen this week to highlight the increasing pressure this is putting on the sewer network.

The water company’s new ‘Rainwise’ initiative aims to work with communities in areas across the region to explore opportunities to manage the amount of surface water that enters the drains.
This will help to increase capacity in the pipes, a key way to reduce the risk of sewer flooding.

As part of this, Northumbrian Water is appealing to residents to get ‘Rainwise’, by making small changes to homes and gardens that can help manage rainfall locally.

Wastewater Director, Richard Warneford, explains: “We know how devastating flooding can be and are committed to reducing the risk of it occurring in our region. However, many people don’t realise how important their garden can be in reducing the pressure on our drains.

“To coincide with National Gardening Week, we’re encouraging people to get out into their gardens or yards and get planting. Small changes, such as adding plants and shrubs can help capture intense rain and slow the flow of it, especially during summer storms.

“This means that rainfall is being managed in a more natural environment, rather than overloading the sewer network. If lots of people make changes, the results will really add up.”

Homeowners enjoying National Gardening Week can create a rain garden by digging a sunken area and growing plants and shrubs which will help to channel and soak up rainwater, while adding flower pots or planters to a garden or yard will help to reduce the amount of hard surfaces.

Rainwater can also be captured in a water butt attached to roof guttering, which can then be used to water plants, as well as saving water and money.

Through Rainwise, Northumbrian Water is working more closely with communities in areas across the region to investigate potential surface water issues and flooding experiences and help prepare for the future.

Residents are being asked to share information on the company’s community website, to help the company to explore potential solutions to minimising flood risk.

As well as installing new pipes to transfer surface water away from the sewer network and new tanks to store storm water, the company will use sustainable drainage solutions where possible.

These may include rain gardens, grassy drainage channels or basins to transfer or store water, and have wider social and environmental benefits, including providing a green space in urban areas and creating valuable wildlife habitats.

The Rainwise initiative is industry-leading in progressing proactive community-led flood reduction solutions in locations that have not necessarily suffered flooding in the past, while providing additional benefit to those that have.

For more top tips and information about Rainwise, visit