Gardens bring life to our homes, streets and cities; and as a result, gardening has become one of the top recreational activities in Australia. Like all life gardens need water, and with the population rising water is fast becoming a precious resource. However, with a bit of thought and general know-how you can create a water efficient garden that is both green and flourishing.
Here are some simple tips that will not only save water, but also time, money and our planet.
Mulch: Mulch is like a blanket for your garden. It keeps the soil cool in summer and temperate in winter. Mulch help retains water up to 70%, while protecting your plants from the changing elements of nature, such as drying winds and cold snaps. Popular choices of mulch include wood chips, bark, almond hulls, straw or even decorative rock.
Aerate your lawn: Over time soil becomes naturally compact making it hard for water to filter down and nourish roots. Regular lawn aeration breaks up the soil and provides air to the roots of the grass, all which are necessary for lush and healthy growth. How often you need to aerate the lawn will depend on several factors such as the type of grass, whether you remove lawn clippings, the type of soil, the climate, and how much you fertilise. Dry spots are usually the first indication that it is time to aerate the grass. To check water penetration hose the dry area and take note whether it seeps into the soil easily.
Don’t overwater plants: Many gardeners make the mistake of overwatering plants. Before you give your plants a water, push aside the mulch and stick your finger into the soil. If the soil is moist below the surface then you don’t need to water. Many plants are much tougher than you think and have the ability to withstand long periods without water. Train your plants to be more sustainable by watering them less. Less frequent watering forces the roots of the plant to find water, making them less reliant on surface water and more resilient to drought and those scorching summer days.
Buy a rainwater tank for your garden: Rainwater tanks are the best way to collect water from the rains, giving you free water all year long. Plus you aren’t affected by any local water restrictions. Tanks are easy to use, affordable and are available in styles to suit most homes.
Best time to water is in the morning: Less water is lost to evaporation when the temperature is cooler, plus in most areas the wind doesn’t blow as hard in the mornings.
Water according to season: Get in the habit of regularly reviewing your watering schedule based on the seasons; for example plants usually require less water in autumn than in summer.
Install an automatic drip irrigation system: It is more efficient to water plants from the roots as opposed to the leaves – this is the benefit of a drip irrigation system. When planning your garden and the irrigation system separate plants into hydro-zones – this is an area where all the plants use the same amount of water. Each area is then watered efficiently by setting the irrigation to deliver just the right amount of water to each hydro zone.
Plant wisely: Replace high-water using plants and shrubs with less thirsty alternatives. The use of native plants can be particularly water and environmentally friendly, and attracts local birdlife. If you do decide to plant a garden that requires more water, then plan it smartly by locating the plants in an area that is protected from the harsh elements of midday sun, heavy rains and strong winds.
Set up a greywater system: Stop wastage and recycle the water from your shower and washing machine. Systems are easy to install, however you have to be mindful of the chemicals you use in your home. Before using greywater, you should consult your local council to ensure you comply with any local regulations.
So there you have it, some of our all-time favourite tips to help you save water while greening both your garden and the planet.