North-west hit with hosepipe ban

Garden and greenhouse fans in the north-west of England have been hit with their first hosepipe ban in 14 years following the driest start to a year on record.

Beginning at 06:00 BST today (July 9th), the water conservation action could affect almost seven million residents.

However, Amateur Gardening magazine editor Kris Collins has issued some advice to growers dealing with the ban.

"If you have any pots or hanging baskets or containers, you can buy water retaining crystals or gels," he said.

"They are in powder form when you buy them and you put them in the compost."

After watering, the crystals swell and can hold water for up to eight weeks, Mr Collins added.

The expert noted that lavender is not only a favourite among gardeners, it is also one of the more drought-tolerant species.

A 2001 report from the Environment Agency found that outdoor activities such as gardening and washing cars account for six per cent of Brits annual domestic water usage, although this jumps to 70 per cent in summer.