Let’s learn about waterwise gardens
Across this wide, brown, sun-scorched land of ours, water is a precious resource. We can all help save water by planting waterwise gardens.
With today’s watering restrictions and penalties in many Australian cities, and watering bans not uncommon in many areas, it really is the responsibility of all of us to do our bit to reduce the water we use on our gardens.
Finding plants for gardens that need less water to thrive is now so easy that there’s no need to do anything else. Nurseries from large to small are all full of clearly marked native and waterwise options and these plants are just as beautiful as their thirsty cousins.
But it’s not all about native plants. There are a whole bunch of tricks to employ in your garden to help make it as waterwise as possible. Let’s dig around.
It’s best to avoid raised garden beds and dramatic rise and fall in your garden, because the elevated areas will not hold water, and the plants there will be deprived. With some very clever garden design, you can create a series of natural hollows that strategically direct the water through your garden. This is also useful for your garden during winter, when it can gather water in the lower areas, and hold it, while it is absorbed into the mounds.
You can train your plants to be more water wise and use less water themselves. Amazing, and true. If you plant small plants you can encourage them to develop a deep root system by watering them minimally from the beginning. As they grow, their deeper root system allows them to survive on less water and handle drought more successfully.
Mulch will help protect your plants from the direct heat of the sun on the soil, and also to retain moisture and evaporate slower. Plus, mulch also breaks down to deliver nutrients into the soil. It’s a good idea to mulch your garden with an organic compost at least once a year. As well as helping with moisture retention, it will prevent sandy soils from becoming water repellent, a common issue in parts of Australia.
Plants that are native to your area will always need less water and maintenance in general to thrive. So ask your local garden centre about your options and find local plants that you like the look of. You’ll find they do very well because they are naturally well adapted to your local conditions, whatever they might be.
Coming back to sandy and water repellent soil, which is very common in Perth and WA, for example. There are plenty of wetting agents on the market, which when applied, will break down the oils in the soil that make the soils water repellant. Applying these once or twice a year will improve the absorption of water into the soil, and then into the roots of the plants themselves.
Catch your own
There are now all sorts of shapes and sizes of water tanks designed specifically for urban residences that will allow you to channel the rainwater from your roof, and keep it to use during the dry spells. This can be a great idea and of course the rain water is chemical free and better for your garden than the chlorinated city water supply.