Even with water restrictions in place, it is still possible to create an attractive garden without using copious amounts of water.
Soil preparation and mulch are essential in a water efficient garden. A good mulch has many advantages, including:
Compost and horse, sheep and cow manures are excellent for improving soil quality. Pea straw, lucerne, compost, leaf litter and chopped bark all make superb mulches.
The method used to deliver water to plants is very important in getting the most benefit out of the water used. Conventional sprinklers deliver large amounts of water to large areas and can be extremely wasteful if not positioned thoughtfully. Inline drippers, weeping hoses and drip tubes are designed for placing under mulch. These are low pressure watering systems which, over a period of several hours, deliver water directly to the plant's roots. Inline drippers are also suitable for lawns.
Grouping plants with similar water requirements will assist in preventing over and under watering. Computerised watering systems allow for the delivery of a set amount of water at specified times, to various sections of the garden. Tap timers are a useful and cheap alternative. Using phosphate and petrochemical free, biodegradable laundry powders allows you to safely reuse the laundry water on the garden.
There are hundreds of waterwise plants. You can select from Australian natives or exotic plants that come from areas of the world with Mediterranean climate conditions (these are areas that experience hot, dry summers with the majority of rain falling in winter). Plant labels often state how much water a plant needs. If you are not sure, look for plant characteristics such as thick leathery, hairy, wax-coated, succulent, silvery grey or fine needle-like leaves. Other sources of information for suitable plant material are old neglected gardens, holiday homes and streetscapes.
Top Summer Performers: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Correa alba, Escallonia varieties, Hardenbergia violacea, Hibiscus (evergreen) and H. syriacus (deciduous), Lagerstroemia indica hybrids, Lomandra longifolia, Plectranthus argentatus, Santolina varieties, Westringia fruticosa and varieties.
With a bit of planning and some basic knowledge you too can have a water wise garden.
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