Gardening isn’t a waste of water, it’s actually one of the best uses we can put it to. That’s because gardens don’t just benefit their owners, they help the entire community through cleaner, cooler air, reduced rainwater run-off, physical beauty and support for biodiversity. But because we don’t want to waste water, gardeners are always keen to discover ways to make the water we use work more efficiently.
1. Make soil a sponge. Organic matter (compost or manure) dug into soil or spread thinly (3cm) over the surface as mulch, improves your soil’s ability to absorb and hold water.
2. Level land. This is not only more useful, it slows the shedding of rainwater, allowing it to soak in rather than run to waste. Make terraces or wide, shallow swales across slopes.
3. Harvest water. Tanks even out the irregularity of rainfall and, with no additives, rainwater is the organic vegie grower’s liquid of choice.
4. Water wisely. Apply water slowly over a long period and it will all get to where it’s most useful – the root zone. If you ever see water running off garden beds or lawns, it’s wasted, so slow the rate of delivery.
5. Cover soil. Don’t have bare dirt as it loses too much moisture to evaporation. Use low, spreading groundcovers to shade and cool soil.
Combine these ideas with the selection of plants that can cope with your climate and you’ll have a successful, waterwise garden.