Living on the Coffs Coast our gardens often feel the harsh results of long hot summers. Drought increases our water bills, and as water is a valuable resource it must be treated as such. We have compiled a list of simple tips to help minimise water wastage and keep your garden green and healthy even in the drier times. Let’s do it
1. Get more shade and use less water by planting trees
If you are at the beginning of designing your garden and are in an area that is affected by water shortage, consider planting shade trees. Trees can protect your underplanting from the sun and will require less water (make sure the plants underneath are shade happy plants.) Once trees are established in your garden they should not require additional water. When planting trees in a drought prone area, consider using wetting agents to help retain moisture as they becomes established.
2. Use drought tolerant plants
A large choice of drought hardy plants is available from all over the world, and even in our sub-tropical climate, this means there are some great choices. If you choose plants that have minimal water requirements you will obviously have to water them less! This is great news for you when it is dry and also, less time is spent maintaining your garden and you are saving water.
Some examples that will work well in our region:
- Star Jasmine
- Kangaroo Paw
- Bird of Paradise
- Mondo Grass
- Agave and succulents
Another thing to consider is in planting similar plants together in groupings which require the same amount of water. You will reduce overall water usage as you will be able to water each area of planting only as needed.
Regularly mixing in organic matter such as compost or fertilisers into your soil improves the structure of the soil and aids the water retention capabilities of the soil. The worms love it too!
Using mulch is a really great way to maintain moisture levels in your soil. Your garden will also have a cooler temperature which reduces the occurrence of evaporation. Tea tree mulch is wonderful as it adds high levels of nutrients into the soil as it breaks down. Mulch assists with minimising weed growth-yay!
5. When to water?
The best time to water the garden is before the sun is shining. Wander down into your garden with the hose and a cup of tea and enjoy the coolness and solitude of your garden. When you water early in the morning, it helps to hydrate the plants so they will be ready for the heat of the day. Also evaporation will be minimal as it will be cooler then. Late in the afternoon is also a good time to water if you cannot get into your garden early.
Weed out those naughty weeds regularly as they are drinking up the precious water your plants need. Who needs water thieves in their garden, certainly not us!
If your plants are in clay or terracotta pots, consider changing them to pots that are less porous and hold the water more efficiently. Also making sure you repot plants regularly ( every year or so) means the soil will absorb the water rather than water leach straight through. For tips on how to do this, check my recent blog on how to repot your indoor plants.