Butt out water bills

Drooping plants and dry brown grass are an inevitable sight once the heat arrives. But when the weather warms up, watering the garden can be an expensive business, and the RSPB wants to make sure gardeners take the necessary steps now to keep their lawns, trees and shrubs green and lush for wildlife this summer.

With the threat of increasing water bills with summer tariffs – and the ever-present need to conserve water – the wildlife charity is reassuring us all that keeping gardens alive can be done at no extra cost.

The RSPB is encouraging gardeners to install a water butt now so it is full by the time the weather warms and gardens need constant watering.

During a wet spell the butts will start to gather large amounts of water quickly.

Apart from plants the recycled water could also be used for topping up ponds over summer, which is far better than doing so from the tap. It is only a matter of time until gardens need constantly watering.

A water butt is a tank used to collect and store rainwater run off from rooftops via gutters.

The water collected and maintained can be used for the rest of the year and will reduce mains water use.

Many birds use plants, shrubs and trees as food sources and shelter so keeping them alive and flourishing is vital.

Regular watering will ensure berry bearing shrubs and nectar rich plants which attract insects for birds to feed on, continue to provide food for as long as possible.

Val Osborne, Head of RSPB Wildlife Enquiries, says: “The RSPB realises that keeping bills down is a priority for everyone but by installing a water butt you can still care for your garden – and for wildlife - without worrying about the cost.

“Many water companies and local councils offer good deals on the water butts to get you started, and the rest just happens naturally – literally!

“We all like to see our gardens looking their best and full of colour and life. As well as looking great for all those family barbecues, regular watering will ensure our garden birds are fed too.

“Natural food like berries and insects are absolutely vital for birds, especially during the breeding season as baby birds can digest them easily, and flourishing trees and shrubs will ensure both of these.

“Everyone’s a winner.”

The RSPB offers more information on saving energy in your garden and making a haven for wildlife with its Homes for Wildlife scheme. www.rspb.org.uk/hfw