The water shortage across South Africa over the past couple of years has been a huge wake up call to all South Africans.
However, it’s possible to be an environmental champion and water-wise advocate while still enjoying the benefits of a beautiful garden.
Maintain a tip-top (water-wise) lawn
Rolling green lawns that take huge amounts of water and maintenance are a luxury of the past. If you want to keep a lawn, try and cut down on the area by increasing the size of your flower and vegetable beds. You can also replace a fine lawn with a tougher variety, such as Buffalo grass and cut it at a higher level than usual to shade the roots and prevent evaporation.
Any kind of mulch, from compost to straw or wood chips, will not only improve the structure of your soil, but also holds water for longer, ensuring that your plants’ roots remain moist in hot weather.
Invest in a rainwater tank
By installing a rainwater tank that collects the rain runoff from your home’s guttering, you can save water for those weeks when it doesn’t rain and ensure that your garden remains hydrated without having to rely on municipal water.
Be water-wise with your planting
Group plants that have similar watering requirements together so that you don’t waste water and damage plants that need less water. A common mistake is to plant lavender and roses together. Roses have a relatively high water requirement while lavender is suited to drier climates.
It’s also preferable to plant indigenous plants that need less water and are suited to South Africa’s climate. Ask an expert at your local nursery to point out which plants are indigenous; you’ll be surprised by the enormous variety.
Re-use your household’s water
By switching to environmentally friendly washing powder, cleaning products, shampoos and soaps, you can safely re-use your household water in the garden. Put a bucket in the shower with you and use any spill off in the garden. You could also invest in a grey water system which redirects the water from your bath, washing machine and dishwasher to a tank for your garden later.
Use a spray nozzle for watering your garden
Choosing an adjustable nozzle fitting for your hose puts you in control of the water pressure spray radius and, most importantly, the usage. If you have diverse watering needs, a dial nozzle may be the best choice for you.
By watering the base of your plants directly, you aren’t wasting any water on weeds.
Stick to level one restrictions
Level one water restrictions stipulate that you can’t water your garden between 6am in the morning and 6pm in the evening. It’s a good guideline to stick to even when no restrictions are in place. By watering when it’s hot you lose a lot of water to evaporation and can risk burning the plants when water droplets act as a magnifier for the sun’s rays.