Can you use a watering can in a hosepipe ban? Rules on small and large cans - as water companies bring in bans

There are even ways to technically use a hosepipe during a hosepipe ban

The UK rarely has to introduce hosepipe bans, but water restrictions have been brought in after the record-breaking July heatwave and drought conditions.

Record temperatures for England, Scotland and Wales on 18 and 19 July came against a backdrop of a summer in which there has been very little rain.

And with Britain braced for another heatwave that will last longer than July’s hot spell, the bans could become more widespread.

Highs of up to 35C are expected over the next week, forecasters have said, and though temperatures will remain lower than last month’s scorching 40+ degrees, the dry weather will continue over a “prolonged period”.

So how can you keep tending to your garden if you’re unable to provide your thirsty plants with the usual amounts of water they need from a hosepipe?

Could a watering can be the answer?

Here is everything you need to know.

Do watering cans use less water than hosepipes?

Watering cans are a long established water saving technique when it comes to keeping garden plants topped up with water during hot spells.

On first glance, it may seem as if a watering can uses roughly the same amount of water as a hosepipe would.

But, watering cans are a much more controlled way of delivering water to a plant, and can be aimed much more carefully than the random mist of a spray nozzle.

(Photo: DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: DIRK WAEM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

The whole point of prohibiting hosepipes and sprinklers is that they tend to be left on for long periods of time, wasting a lot of water.

Forcing you to use a watering can or bucket reduces the possibility of overusing water.

That being the case, a full watering can can still hold litres of precious water, so is their use permitted during a hosepipe ban?

Are watering cans allowed during a hosepipe ban?

Thankfully, the helpful folks at are here to provide some clarity.

“Under previous hosepipe and sprinkler bans the use of watering cans, buckets and other water carrying devices has been perfectly acceptable for watering the garden, or for instance washing your car,” they say.

So it stands to reason that the same is true for any current bans in the year 2022. This also applies to cans of any size, whether big or small.

But, they do add: “During a ban you should always check with your local water company to see the specific rules they have in place of course.”

Can I use a hosepipe to fill up my watering can?

In fact, there is even a way to technically use a hosepipe during a hosepipe ban, all completely legally. If you’re using it to fill up your watering can...

“It has also been generally accepted by the water companies in the past that a short piece of hose connected to a tap can be used to fill the watering can/bucket,” says

“Hence you’re actually using a hosepipe during a hosepipe ban!”

Where are hosepipe bans in place?

The current spate of dry weather has led Southern Water to introduce a hosepipe ban in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight on Friday (5 August).

South East Water is bringing in restrictions for households in Kent and Sussex from next Friday (12 August), and Welsh Water is introducing a ban for Pembrokeshire from 19 August.

Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, water companies have legal powers to restrict how water is used.

Anyone ignoring these rules could be prosecuted in a criminal court and fined a maximum of £1,000 - although water companies say they prefer “education over enforcement”.

It’s looking increasingly likely that more hosepipe bans will be introduced throughout the UK in the coming weeks.

Little rain is forecast for at least the next week, while another heatwave is set to hit the South of England in the coming days, and Environment Secretary George Eustice has urged water companies to take action.