3 steps for water wise gardening


DIY and how-to

An orange watering nozzle spraying water droplets onto green leaves.

Step One: Get water to your plants

Use water wisely by getting the water directly to the plants, where they need it.  Watering cans are perfect for this as you can get to the roots of the plant and a rose attachment will prevent damaging the flowers.  An added bonus is that watering cans can be easily filled with grey water.

There are alternatives to using municipal water, such as borehole, well points or grey water as mentioned above.

What is grey water?

Grey water is used water from the bath, shower, bathroom sinks. This fairly clean water is ideal for irrigation systems in the garden. Grey water excludes water from the kitchen and toilets- this is called black water or sullage

Mild or gentle soap is safe to use as grey water, kitchen water is not necessarily suggested due to the fats and oils found in the water.

We stock an amazing product called the Water Warrior that assists in getting grey water from your home to the garden.  Visit any of our garden centres, and our staff are more than happy to assist with installation information.

Step Two: Retaining water

Once your plants have been watered you need to retain the moisture for as long as possible by mulching and composting.  Mulch retains soil moisture and prevents soil erosion plus it suppresses weed germination and growth.  Work plenty of compost into your garden beds as this too holds moisture in the soil and provides nutrients for plant growth.

Moisture absorbing granules are also a great way to reduce water usage. Mix the granules into the soil to absorb and store water when the soil is wet and then they will slowly release it back into the soil.  They drastically reduce the amount of water you need to give container plants while ensuring the roots don’t get soggy and rot.’ 

Step Three: Garden to ensure survival of your plants.

This means not digging garden beds up unnecessarily and removing weeds as soon as they appear – you don’t want them competing with your plants for water. Introduce colourful plants in containers but pots are also ideal for herb and vegetable gardening. Also:

  • Use bordering like cobbles, edging or wood around your beds to create pockets for water to collect
  • Go indigenous, these plants save you time and money once they are established
  • Use low growing, hardy groundcovers.  You can effectively create a barrier between the sunlight and the soil surface, decreasing soil temperature and minimising soil surface evaporation
  • Group or mass the same succulent for the best effect. This is a simple tool for the low maintenance gardener who wants the greatest impact with the least amount of work. Clever gardeners combine contrasting succulents to add extra interest to their gardens. Spiky, toothed, spongy, and rounded shapes or foliage of gold, copper, silver, bronze, red, green etc can be very appealing.

Here are some additional handy tips from Stodels on working towards a water wise garden:

  • Before you water, stick your finger a few centimetres into the soil to check the moisture content. Sometimes soil looks dry on top, but it’s moist a few centimetres below
  • Water less frequently, but more deeply. This will encourage your plants to develop deeper root systems, which are more drought resistant (the temperature can be up to 5°C cooler just 10cm below the soil).
  • Use water retention products – this will go a long way to help your garden survive the summer
  • Mulching helps to conserve water by slowing down moisture evaporation and shields plants roots from temperature extremes. It should also break down into the underlying soil gradually and thereby improve the soil’s texture
  • Avoid watering on windy days, as wind accelerates evaporation. It’s also best to water before 9am in the morning or after 5pm in the evening, rather than during the heat of the day.
  • Use a watering can as it will help you water directly onto roots and is also easily filled using grey water and use a fine nozzle to water new seedlings

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