Watering Tips

30 years ago (and way ahead of the times) Plymouth Garden Centre installed a borehole several hundred feet into an aquifer (underground lake) so that we could access the fresh, naturally filtered water that laid below. We use it for watering our plants, with the water draining away back into the ground, filtering through the rock layers and back into the aquifer. People often ask us about our water usage, especially during hot weather, so there's the answer!

Water conservation is highly important to our ecosystem, and you can help too! By installing a water-butt, you can harvest rainwater which is so much better for your plants (and also your water bill)!

Rainwater vs Tap Water

As you will know, plants rely heavily on water to survive. Whilst tap water will suffice, it is a costly way to water plants when the alternative is not only free, but better for them! Tap water contains chemicals such as softeners, chlorine or fluoride depending on what area you are in. These additions can slow plant growth, or in some cases actually harm plants. No matter how much you use tap water to water your garden, it never looks as lush and green than after a few days of rainfall! Rainwater is high in nitrogen, which makes leaves green. The higher acidity of rainwater also aids the release of micronutrients held within the soil (such as zinc, iron and copper). There are many more benefits of rainwater, so it's an easy contest. Rainwater wins!
EXCEPT... sowings, seedlings or delicate plants. The risk of contamination of any natural bugs growing in a water butt outweighs the benefits of rainwater.


Attach to your downpipes of your house to collect rainwater. Utilise other buildings such as sheds, greenhouses and garages and attach water butts to them as well, you can alternate your supplies keeping water fresh. Even small gardens can collect rainwater using the slimline water butt instead. And for larger gardens, water butts can be connected together to store even more!

Water butts

Watering Tips

Here are our top tips for watering:

1) Greywater

Use greywater (water from baths/sinks/washing machines etc) to top up your water butt or use directly in the garden. Most household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants so are safe to use, just don't use water that contains bleach, disinfectant, dishwasher salts or stronger cleaners.

2) Timing Is Everything

Water late in the evening to avoid evaporation, plants will be able to drink more during the cooler night than during the warmth of the day. If this is not possible, water very early in the morning instead.

3) Increase Soil Storage

Use water storing crystals in your pots and baskets to decrease the frequency of watering.

Water crystals

4) Mulch

After giving the garden a good soak, mulch beds and borders with bark or fresh compost. This will help keep plant roots cooler and lock in moisture.

5) Frequency

Mature plants will need watering less, a good soaking once a week should suffice. Newer or struggling plants will need watering more often to help them establish.

6) Soil or leaves

Established plants can be watered from above with a hose or a rose watering can, but it is best for young plants if you water only soil beneath. Only the roots can take in water, however some leaves are designed to channel water down directly towards the roots. Leaves do still need moisture however and if the air is particularly dry there can be some benefit to wetting the leaf. This should only be done in late evening however, when there is no risk of the strong sunlight scorching the leaves.

Watering plants

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