Hosepipe ban: shop your neighbours

Dry reservoirJohn Giles/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The hosepipe ban has already started destroying British life as we know it, with local streets riven with new tensions and neighbours pitted against one another in a battle over who is still watering the lawn. Now the water companies are planning to add to the row, issuing hotlines for you to shop your neighbours.

And it's not just damaging neighbourly relations, it's hurting our pockets too.

The hotlines

The hosepipe ban kicks in on 5 April, at which point it will be against the rules to use the hosepipe for watering the garden, cleaning the car or patio or mucking about with the kids. And while half the country is busy getting as much washing and watering done in the interim, there are serious tensions building.

In every neighbourhood, there's someone who flouts the ban. In fact, according to The Telegraph, one in seven people broke the ban at some point in 2006. You may see them brazenly getting their hose out in the light of day, or be left with a strong sense that something is awry when you notice someone's lawn is bucking the dried-brown trend and staying green and lush. It causes real consternation and annoyance, as we slog around with a watering can feeling hard-done-by.

This year the water companies are considering cashing in on this army of disgruntled neighbours by launching hosepipe hotlines. Southern Water told the Telegraph it was considering the move - while Thames Water and South East Water have a history of doing this during former bans. These would be used alongside a team of water company spies, who will be keeping a close eye on your movements.

It means that one in seven people could be caught flouting the ban, which can lead to a fine of £1,000.

Other costs

But you don't have to flout the ban for it to cost you dear. Preparing your garden for dry weather and a hosepipe ban will itself cost a small fortune.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor says: "There is a lot gardeners can do that does not involve extra watering. For example, spiking and feeding a lawn in spring will help it hold up in dry weather – then if it goes brown, it will recover even faster when rain returns. It's also a good idea to plant hardy plants early to avoid the hot weather and let them get their roots into the surrounding soil to search out moisture. When the warm weather arrives keep any newly purchased plants in pots under light shade until the weather turns cooler."

According to The Guardian there has been a run on water butts, with a 196% rise in sales since this time last year. A basic, small water butt will set you back around £20 (although you may need a few of them), while a larger one could cost up to £300.

Then you have watering paraphernalia, new plants to cope with the dry weather - and the right compost to ensure they can handle the rainy seasons too. Then when it's all over with, there's the replacement of those plans that don't come through in one piece. The whole lot can easily set you back another £200.

So what do you think? What will the ban cost you, and would you shop your neighbours? Let us know in the comments.
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