Follow these tips to save water in your garden:
- Group your plants according to their water needs. Put the plants that need the most water together in one part of the garden. If you have just one plant with high water requirements in a garden bed, it will mean that all the other plants in that bed will receive more water than they need.
- Give your plants the best chance of surviving dry periods: don’t be tempted to grow plants that prefer shade in full sun. A vulnerable shrub in a hot, dry position will need much more watering to keep it in good condition.
- Fertilise your plants using liquid fertiliser. Dry fertilisers take water from the soil but soluble fertilisers like Thrive or Aquasol, which are applied in liquid form, will encourage plant growth without raising salt levels in the soil.
- Control weeds in the garden. Weeds are great competitors and they will fight with your garden plants for every precious drop. Use a glyphosate-based herbicide, such as Zero which won’t affect the soil. Make sure that the herbicide doesn’t contact your garden plants.
- Reduce lawn areas. Lawns can consume more water than many other parts of the garden. Instead of lawn, a water-saving garden could use paving, pebbles, or drought-tolerant ground covers such as grevilleas, myoporum, snake vine (Hibbertia scandens), dusky coral pea (Kennedia rubicunda) or succulents.
- Train your lawn in good water habits, in the same way as you would train your other garden plants. Once the lawn is well established, give long soakings rather than short, light waterings. This will encourage a deeper, more hardy root system.
- Grow grasses that need less water: couch, kikuyu, Queensland blue couch, carpet grass, buffalo and tall fescues. Tall fescue is the best choice in cool climates because it stands up well to winter cold. Its resistance to drought is dependent on an established root system, so try to plant this grass in autumn, to allow time for the roots to establish before summer.
- During very dry periods let the lawn die off completely – it is easier to replace lawn than trees and shrubs when the rain eventually falls again. When mowing, leave the grass longer than normal. Longer grass means a deeper root system, and the long blades shade the soil, which also helps keeps the soil temperature down.
This information is from the Yates Garden Guide: fully revised & updated 44th edition, HarperCollins, $39.99. You can have this information and so much more at your fingertips by purchasing the Yates Garden Guide, available at all leading bookstores and Bunnings stores.