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11 ways to save water in the garden

By Andrew Bellino

Australians love their gardens. Green spaces are valued all across the country from urban parks to rooftop gardens, to vertical green walls and, of course, the typical Aussie backyard, complete with buffalo grass lawn and Hills Hoist.

But in recent years with reservoirs running low and some challenging heat waves, the Aussie garden has taken a bit of a battering. And for anyone with an English-style cottage garden, you’ve probably discovered they’re quite a water guzzler.

But there’s more to saving water in the garden cutting back on watering. There are many steps you can do to improve your garden’s water holding capacity.

Here, we look at some simple changes you can make to keep your garden happy.

Restrictions by government

Watering the garden accounts for 30-50 per cent of household water use, and in recent years there’s been some sort of water restriction in one state or another.

Current legislation

Many parts of Australia are still under water restrictions and may be for the foreseeable future. The decision to impose and lift water restrictions is made by the State Government and then communicated to water suppliers.

Some of the factors considered are:

  • Dam levels
  • The season
  • Consumer usage and demand, and
  • Risk of bushfires.

Restrictions vary from state to state and even city to city. For more information on current water restrictions you can contact your water supplier or visit the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

How to save water in the garden

1. Water your lawn sparingly

In summer, lawns generally need watering every five to seven days. In winter, it’s every 10 to 14 days.

If you’ve had some solid rainfall it may mean you won’t need to water your lawn for up to two weeks. Keep your eye on the four-day forecast. If there’s rain coming up, wait for the rain to water your garden. Plants are hardier than you think.

2. Stop losing water to evaporation

Water your garden during the cooler parts of the day – early morning or late evening – when the sun’s not in the sky.

3. Embrace rainwater tanks

Rainwater recycling systems are truly an excellent water saver when connected to your toilet and/or laundry or washing machine. Depending on where you live, you’re probably also entitled to a Government rebate should you decide to install one, whether for personal use or business.

4. Lay drip irrigation

It’s time to bin inefficient sprinkler systems in favour of drip irrigation. The advantage to drip irrigation is that it can sends direct to the roots of your plants (thus avoiding fungal problems) and they’re very low maintenance.

They also allows you to measure exactly how much water you’ll be applying per hour and can be controlled by a timer.

5. Employ automatic timers

If you’re not using an automatic timer for your sprinkler, use an alarm clock or similar to remind yourself to shut it off.

6. Favour natives & drought-hardy plants

The best type of plants, trees and grasses for your garden are always those native to your local climate.

This can vary from region to region but to ensure you have a sustainable garden, talk to your local council or nursery about what thrives in your area. Alternatively, have a think about low maintenance eco-planting using succulents, for instance.

7. Put some muscle into it

The days of spraying leaves from your drive with the hose should be long gone. It’s terribly wasteful as the water goes straight into the gutter. An high-powered air-blower is one option – though it’s not energy efficient.

A better option would be to unpack the humble broom. It’s good exercise and great for the environment.

8. Install water-efficient nozzles

Buy a water-efficient nozzle for your hose, one that ranges from a high-pressure jet, down to a mist spray. A trigger nozzle will actually let you shut off the water flow altogether. When you’ve finished watering, be sure to turn the hose off at the tap to avoid leaks.

9. Change the way you water

Soil takes up water best if you water in short, repeated bursts. Make sure you aim for the base of the plants – much water is wasted falling on top of foliage. Longer, less frequent watering cycles also encourage deeper root systems that are then more protected on very hot conditions.

10. Get to know your plants

Most plants wilt on hot days – this is normal. You just want to be sure they look okay the next morning. If they’re really suffering, then perhaps they’re not cut out for full or extended sunlight. You can move pot plants around or bring them inside temporarily. Try to find a happy medium.

If you’re tending to a vegie garden, you’ll find young crops in general need more water during their growth phase. Summer vegetables are especially quick growing and have rapid root development.

11. Wash your car over your lawn

Don’t wash your car in the driveway. Wash it above the grass so it gets a drink at the same time.

The detergent will also act as a surfactant for your soil, making it more absorbent. Use a bucket, not a hose. Rather than buy a high-pressure water cleaner, it’s more water-efficient to use a commercial car wash as most recycle their water.

Article courtesy of

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