Water Saving Farming, Gardening and Lawn Care


As growers of a good many crops, including turf, Meadowmat, Enviromat, potatoes, and combinable crops, Harrowden have a good understanding of water saving farming, gardening and lawn care.

Water is essential in the production of food and soft landscaping materials.  It’s also a precious resource that doesn’t come cheap and needs careful management.

Why it is important to manage water use

Two reasons for managing our water

Economy:  If it doesn’t rain when our crops need it to, we have the ability (as many farmers do) to extract water from drainage ditches, rivers and underground boreholes.  We need a licence to so so and there is a cost to every single litre.  In the case of food crops, that cost comes out of our profit margin.  With the ornamentals, we have to decide whether to build irrigation costs into the price of the product or whether to bear the costs as a company.   Usually, it’s the second option.

The second reason for wanting to manage water is environmental.  We know that water is recycled by nature.  You and I are still drinking the same water that sustained the dinosaurs – but interfering with the natural water cycle is unhelpful to wildlife and to the local environment.  Our aim is to have minimal environmental impact with all that we do.

Water saving on a huge scale

It stands to reason that we only irrigate crops when absolutely necessary.   We’re not in the habit of sprinkling water around willy-nilly.

Where we can, we collect water in huge reservoirs during periods of high rainfall.  We can then use it as a resource during the summer months.    As an aside, it’s interesting to see how the reservoirs have settled into the landscape over the years and been adopted by wildlife.   Goodness only knows how the fish got into them – but they did.  They are also inhabited by several species of wild duck.  They are visited by birds and small mammals and populated by dragonfly, damsel fly and aquatic plants.

water saving reservoir

The reservoir on our Norfolk turf production unit is popular with local wildlife. Used mainly to irrigate potatoes it’s a valuable resource in our attempts to save water wherever possible.

Irrigators are rarely used during the heat of the day.  Instead they are switched on in the evening and moved around the field during the night.  That way the water gets to soak into the soil before it can be evaporated by the sun.

High tech irrigators are more efficient and waste less water.  They cost more to buy and it takes longer to place the pipes – but hey-ho it’s all in a good cause.

Water saving lawn care

The bill for watering our developing lawns (aka turf fields) is quite considerable.  As a lawn owner, you too will be billed for watering your lawn.  So, to avoid wasting this precious resource and running up a big bill – here are our top 5 tips for waterwise lawn care.

Top 5 tips for using less water on your lawn

  1. Only newly turfed lawns need to be watered.   NEVER neglect to water new turf.  If the soil dries out before it has established then your turf will probably die.
  2. With number 1 in mind, aim to lay new turf during the wetter seasons of the year.  Spring and autumn are ideal.  Winter is OK provided the ground isn’t frozen.  Summer?  Turf can be laid perfectly well in the summer months but if the weather man talks of a heatwave or a drought, think long and hard before ordering a huge consignment of turf.
  3. Established lawns will turn brown during a dry summer. Don’t panic.  They are still alive and will green up as soon as it rains.
  4. Feeding your lawn during spring and early summer will ensure it is in good health and able to cope with drought. Aeration and scarification are good techniques for ensuring your lawn is as water efficient as possible.   If you’re not confident, call in a professional lawn care company.  They’re not as expensive as you might think.   You have your car valeted – why not have the lawn valeted too?
  5. Raise the blades on your lawnmower. Slightly longer grass is more drought tolerant than shaved lawns.  2-4 cm is a good compromise.   Short enough to be neat and allow light to reach the smaller grasses.  Tall enough to shade the soil from the hot sun and help the plants stay greener for longer.

Saving Water elsewhere in the garden

Mulch around shrubs, herbaceous plants, trees, fruit and vegetables.  You’ll find it prevents around 80% of water evaporation from the soil.  Bark mulch is attractive and inexpensive.

Collect rainwater from roofs etc.  Water buts are great and they are the gardeners’ equivalent to our reservoirs – although you may not get whole flocks of geese swimming in yours.  Clever gardeners can also collect runoff from decks and patios and redirect it into ponds, bog gardens etc.

Choose drought tolerant plants.  Alpines are super, as are Mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary, sage and thyme.

enviromat sedum matting

Enviromat sedum matting is incredibly drought tolerant and makes great ground cover. Visit www.enviromat.co.uk for more information

Use water retaining granules in pots and hanging baskets.

If you need to water plants – do it when the sun is low in the sky.  Early morning or late evening is best.  Use a watering can rather than a sprinkler – you’ll be able to direct water to exactly where it’s needed AND you won’t be inclined to use any more than you need to.


Enjoy your garden but be conscious of how important it is in the big scheme of things.  You may think that watering your patch of grass won’t make any difference to the planet but it will.  It really will.

Visit the TGA website for advice on laying turf, caring for new turf and managing lawns in dry weather