It has been another dry year across Australia. Outside of one or two “rain events”, SEQ has gone without good rainfall for an extended period once again. But spare a thought for our farmers across the country, most of which are experiencing the worst droughts they’ve ever seen. Water is a precious resource, and it is almost a selfish concept that we city folk waste our water on our lawns and gardens but with a few small changes, you can have lovely guilt-free gardens with less water.
Use a quality mulch
The simplest and most effective means of cutting your water bill is to apply mulch to your garden beds. Mulch helps prevent moisture loss from of your soil beds through evaporation. A nice thick layer of quality mulch laid at the start of spring will offer protection through the warmer months. Using a quality bark or mulch over your garden beds will also prevent the growth of weeds and break down into your soil adding back valuable organic matter. Save water, and time spent weeding, what are you waiting for?
Choose the right plants
Choosing the right plants for your garden location will give you a great head start. Some plants don’t require as much water as others and picking hardy drought-tolerant options could cut your water bill in half! Australian natives are used to our dry climate so are a good option. Far from being boring, there are varieties that are bursting with colour such as grevilleas and banksia. Succulents and cacti are another fantastic choices as they are native to dry, desert climates. Before any planting, we recommend you improve the soil with organic matter as it helps the soil retain moisture.
Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are by far the most effective means of watering your garden beds. They will release water slowly and directly to the roots of your plants, limiting loss due to evaporation and wind. Irrigation doesn’t have to be a complicated addition. All connectors simply push into the hoses laid out on the ground. Put the watering system on a timer so you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it on or off. Any irrigation system no matter how simple will be much more effective than a hand or sprinkler watering.
The best time to water your garden is the early morning. This will reduce the amount of water lost due to wind and evaporation and give the plants water to survive the day’s heat. In particularly warm conditions, you could add an early evening water also. The best way to water is less frequently but more thoroughly. This encourages deeper root growth and will create stronger more resilient plants.