Waterwise Gardens

Looking for ways to make your gardens waterwise? 

Handwater

Hand watering makes up only 3% of household water use and is a very small figure compared to the amount of water used on irrigation. However, water use in this area can be reduced by switching to drip irrigation where possible, as this is the most efficient form of irrigation. Reducing the number of pot plants you have is another option as pot plants use more water than plants in the ground.

Reduce Lawn Area

Lawn requires a lot of water compared to other types of low water using plants. Replacing your lawn with waterwise plants will save you time watering, maintaining irrigation, fertilising and mowing. Lawn may be replaced with waterwise plants, groundcovers or mulch.

Visit the Water Corporation website for information on creating a water-efficient verge.

Note: Verge landscaping requires approval from your local Shire.

Plant Waterwise Plants

Local native species are a great option as West Australian plants are adapted to survive the dry conditions of our long summers, and the bountiful biodiversity of our region provides a variety of species to suit the needs of any garden.

Be wary of native plants from the Eastern states. Although they require little water, they often have potential to escape from gardens and become bushland weeds.

Find out more about choosing plants for your garden here.

Use Hydrozoning

Hydrozoning is the practice of clustering together plants with similar water requirements in an effort to conserve water. Group plants together in your garden by their water needs.

Plants that need very little water can be grouped together and higher water using plants can be placed in a separate area. This makes for much more efficient watering and reduces water use.

Mulching

A 5−10cm layer of mulch over the soil will allow water to drain into the soil and prevent evaporation.

Waterwise mulch should be of a chunky consistency rather than fine so it will soak up the water, compact and prevent water filtering through to the plant’s roots.

Mulch also helps suppress weeds, which reduces maintenance.

Top up mulch each year to maintain the appropriate level but do not place mulch so that it contacts the stems of the plant as this can cause the plant to rot. Mulch should be well composted to prevent the spread of disease and weeds.

Be aware that adding mulch can cause nitrogen drawdown. This is when micro-organisms such as fungi and bacteria start to compost the woody materials on the soil surface. To do this they need to draw nutrients out of the soil. Nitrogen drawdown results in the competition for nutrients between the plant roots and the mulch on the surface being broken down.

To combat this, first place a 1−2cm layer of well-rotted cow manure or compost on the soil around your plant, then the woody mulch layer on top of this. The manure will directly provide nutrients for the plants and creates a ‘buffer’ so the mulch sitting on top won’t compete and draw nutrients out of the soil away from the roots.

Efficient Irrigation

Irrigation is most efficient when water is applied to the root area of the plants rather than spraying the leaves. For this reason, drip irrigation systems are highly efficient, and are a cheap option for your garden. A drip irrigation system prevents loss of water through surface evaporation, especially if it is installed under a good layer of mulch. Watering early in the morning before 9:00am or in the evening after 6:00pm will help to avoid evaporative loss.

A waterwise irrigation design shop can provide you with the most expert up-to-date advice on waterwise irrigation systems.

Visit the Water Corporation’s website for the current list of Waterwise Specialists. This website also has lots of useful information on improving your soil, creating waterwise gardens and choosing waterwise plants.

Improve Your Soil

Soil improvement makes a big difference, as adding clay and organic matter to your soil will improve its structure to help it retain water and nutrients.

When planting new plants, add organic matter into the planting hole, mixing it in with soil from the hole and water in well. The organic matter feeds the plant and promotes healthy soil life (microbes and worms) that support the plant’s health. It also helps improve soil structure so it will better distribute and hold water. The rule of thumb is to add an amount of organic matter to the planting hole equivalent to the amount of potting mix in the plant pot.

Addition of commercial soil wetting agents can also help soils absorb water and get to the plant roots. Both sandy and clay soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter.

Visit the Water Corporation website for information on improving your soil.

Greywater Irrigation

Reusing household waste water sourced from the shower, laundry tub and wash basins allow you to use this undervalued resource to keep your garden lush and healthy. The nutrients in the greywater from the laundry wash cycle can reduce the amount of fertiliser you need to add to your garden.

Rainwater Tank

Collected rainwater may also be used to irrigate your garden. However, as garden irrigation requires much more water usage than is required in the house, you may prefer to save your store of rainwater for inside rather than outside use.

A good rainwater tank vendor will work with you to match your tank size to your household needs. Please visit here for more information about required approvals.