Guide to using your allotment

1. Getting started

Tyres are no longer permitted on allotment plots

If you have tyres on your plot please remove them.

You may take them (max 2 at at time) to a Household waste Recycling Centre.

There are a number of things you can think about before starting work on your allotment.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the The National Allotment Society have advice on:

  • how to get started
  • the use of chemicals
  • monthly tasks

3. Water safety

Water Quality

The water from allotment standpipe taps and water troughs is not safe to drink but it's suitable for watering crops. 

We recommend that you wash your hands after using taps and water troughs.

Hose Pipes

Hose pipes are a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria when the
temperature is between 20 to 45C. Legionella can be fatal if you catch it. 

You can be infected by breathing in water spray.

To reduce your risk of exposure to bacteria:

  • flush your pipe before use by running the water onto the ground and away from you for a few minutes
  • don't restrict the flow of water or use a sprinkler, fine rose head,
  • spray nozzle, finger or thumb 
  • avoid splashing the water so you don't inhale any water droplets
  • completely drain out your hose pipe after use
  • hang up your pipe when you're storing it away
  • store your pipe in a cool location such as a shed or garage, not on the
  • ground or coiled up and exposed to the sun
  • wash your hands after using the hose

You can only use hose pipes to fill your water butts, not to
water your crops directly.

4. Greenhouses and glass

Remember that many allotment sites are exposed and subject to high winds.


You must ask permission to have a greenhouse.


Glass used for cloches and cold frames must not be left lying around the site. It's a hazardous material and you could be liable if someone is injured by glass on or from your plot.

You must remove broken glass from the allotment. It mustn’t be buried on the plot.

Use alternatives such as perspex glazing or polythene cloche tunnels if at all possible.

  • the maximum size is 6ft x 8ft (1.8m x 2.4m)
  • it must be a properly constructed ‘off the shelf’ greenhouse, and not made from old window panes
  • glazing must be properly secured to the frame
  • the structure must be secure and kept in good repair
  • you may be asked to remove it or be charged for its removal if it’s unsafe or in poor repair

5. Bonfires, barbecues and incinerators

Barbecues are allowed. If you invite your friends to your barbecue make sure that they’re quiet and considerate to neighbours and don’t trespass on other plots.

You can only light fires between the start of November and the end of March. Be considerate to neighbours when lighting fires.

If you see someone lighting a fire from April to October, report it to your site representative or call us on 0117 922 3719 . Your details will stay confidential.

6. Manure


We’ll remove manure if it blocks paths or vehicle access.

Take care not to damage facilities or neighbouring plots.

E.coli advice

Due to the risk associated with E.coli O157:

  • you must compost fresh manure for at least 12 months before you put it on your plot
  • dig manure into the ground before planting any crops
  • wash hands if you handle manure
  • wash all crops after picking
  • don't let children handle animal manure

For more information and guidance, see Food Standards Agency: Managing Farm Manures for Food Safety.

Contaminated manure

Manure may be contaminated by Aminopyralid, a weedkiller used by farmers. It affects potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, and some flowers, making them stunted and unusable.

It’s important to ask the farmer or stables where you get the manure that the pasture the horses were grazed on (or their hay was cut from) has not been treated with this herbicide.

Find out more from the Royal Horticultural Society website.

7. Pesticides

Pesticides are mostly chemical substances prepared or used to destroy harmful pests. By their very nature pesticides pose a potential hazard to the user, others in the area during and after use, and can have a bad effect on the environment if used incorrectly.

Royal Horticultural Society: Pesticides for home gardeners
Pesticide information from the Health and Safety Directorate.
Organic gardening information from Garden Organic

8. Selling produce

You can sell extra produce from your allotment garden, including jam or chutney.

Find out about:

9. Securing your shed

To help keep your shed secure: 

  • don’t leave expensive items such as machinery in your shed as these tend to be targeted by thieves
  • always use coach bolts to secure hinges and hasps to doors
  • always use closed shackle padlocks as these are more difficult to cut with bolt cutters
  • if you can, plant thorny shrubs such as hawthorn, pyracantha, berberis or brambles around vulnerable boundaries to prevent access to sites