Researchers at Cranfield University have worked with colleagues at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to launch a new website aimed at saving water in the garden.

Gardeners visiting the Mains to Rains website can pledge to reduce their dependence on public mains water in their gardens and take measures to save water such as installing a water butt, placing drip trays beneath pots and adding mulch around new plants.

The website – which has been funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) – is in support of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Cranfield and the RHS to promote improved water management practices in gardening.

Jerry Knox, Professor of Agricultural Water Management, Cranfield Water Science Institute, said: “Spring is an important time for gardening, but this year has been more challenging than most. We experienced high temperatures in March, followed by record sunshine in April, and May has been one of the wettest on record, with gardeners quickly forgetting that last May was the sunniest and driest on record.

“We are encouraging family, friends and colleagues to visit the Mains to Rains website and to reflect on how much water they might be able to save in their own garden, however big or small.”

Janet Manning, who was appointed the UK’s first garden water scientist by Cranfield and the RHS in 2018, said: “If we're to get serious about water management then not using mains water on lawns in the summer is one of the first steps. Lawn watering can use as much water in an hour as one person would use in a week.

“By raising the mower blades, choosing the right grass varieties and caring for the soil that the lawn is planted in, a natural grass lawn will recover after a hot dry spell of weather, and if it doesn't it may well have done you a favour, and gives you an opportunity to improve the soil and choose better varieties.”

Ian Holman, Professor of Integrated Land and Water Management, Cranfield Water Science Institute, who led the development of the water pledging website, will also be on the Festival Stage at the RHS Hampton Court show in July discussing the benefits of saving water and presenting Cranfield’s other related water research.