In dry times or when El Nino haunts our thoughts, we tend to save as much water as possible and one of the first things to do is stop watering the garden. Water restrictions usually come in whether we want them too or not and it is painful to see precious plants in the garden droop and die for want of a good soaking. Nevertheless, it is something that all gardeners in dry areas must come to terms with. Here are some ways to conserve water in the garden.
When you install a watering system, go for drip irrigation. This will deliver a small amount of water right to the base of the plant where it is needed, rather than spraying heaps across the whole garden, path, fence, driveway and the wall of the house. You can now get systems that can sense whether the garden even needs watering. DIY guide (Drip Irrigation)
Time of watering is also important. If you water in the morning, there are 8-10 hours of heat that will evaporate your efforts. Watering in the evening means the water will not evaporate to any great extent until the next day. That means your plant roots have all that time to soak it up, thus making the best use of the water you give them. Professional reticulation installers should be used at all times.
Two Kinds of Mulch
Choosing the right plants will reduce the need for water in the garden, but mulching will also help. Using mulch keeps the soil cooler and slows down evaporation. Straw, mushroom waste and sugarcane mulch are all good additions to the garden as they break down slowly and add fertiliser. You don’t have to buy straw if you have a lawn that needs mowing on a regular basis. All you need to do is save the clippings – and the fallen leaves from trees and shrubs.
How to use Sugar Cane Mulch
However, you can also add the kind of mulch that does not break down and this, too, will help to conserve water in the garden. Pine chips or bark, or even pebbles in a smaller garden help to conserve water.
How to Water
Many people spray their gardens briefly every day with a handheld hose and think that they are saving water. What this does is encourage the roots to remain close to the surface because that is where the most water is. So when the sun scorches the garden and dries up that surface moisture the plants droop and die. It is far better to water once a week, but give the garden a good soaking. It uses less in the long run because the roots grow deep in the soil where they are protected from short dry spells. Once you follow these water saving techniques you will see a big difference in the state of your garden next time water restrictions are in force.
One way to decrease your pain is to take more care in choosing the plants. Australian natives are used to the dry climate and will go for months without being watered once they are established. And these days there are many hybrids that are brighter than the originals and also many more colours than were previously available. Natives of South Africa also grow well in Australia because it is very similar in climate. For instance, agapanthus come from that country and do well here.