TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh has lashed out at water companies as hosepipe bans come into force.

“It has always been my bugbear that gardeners keep being blamed for [water] shortages – it’s not our fault at all,” said the ITV Love Your Garden host.

“Gardeners tend to be some of the most responsible people when it comes to looking after water and wildlife. To blame us is bonkers. I wish the water boards would stop blaming us and charging us a fortune. Rant over!”

On 5 April, around 20 million people in central, southern and south east England were banned from using a garden hose, although several water firms will still allow drip irrigation (AG, 31 March).

Alan, speaking at the Ideal Home Show in London last month, advised gardeners: “Don’t water your lawn. Grass has shallow roots and it’s irresponsible to water. Let it go brown.

“At the first rain, after three or four days, your lawn will be green again. Water butts at every downpipe are the best way of saving water.”

The former Ground Force host warned that vegetables, soft fruit and young plants would be quickest to die from lack of water.

Last month, a Daily Mail investigation claimed that the seven water companies imposing hosepipe bans are losing 300million gallons a day in leaks – at a time when gardeners face a £1,000 fine if caught using hosepipes.

To make matters worse, water bills rose by up to eight per cent – that’s double the rate of inflation – on 1 April.