Water Saving – What can you do?
We know we have written about this before in our Summer Saving Water Tips for Gardens blog which covered a number of water saving methods. You may remember that applying a good layer of mulch, creating micro climates with herbaceous perennials, watering in the early morning and late evening all help to reduce water evaporation. By now, you may have even planted a number of indigenous plants that are not water hungry reducing your watering requirements. For water collection we suggested looking into rainwater harvesting and finally using drip irrigation for more efficient watering.
But what else can you do? The new water restrictions mean gardens can no longer be watered with a hose or irrigation system until the restrictions are lifted. You have probably by now already been implementing a number of water saving measures. So, you may be wondering, what else can be done to help? Here are a few things that you may not have considered yet:
Create a rockery! Rockeries can be a very aesthetically pleasing addition to your garden. We seem to have been programmed that gardens need to have expansive lawns surrounded by large multi-layered beds. Rockeries not only help to conserve water, but add an individual personal touch to a garden and aid in habitat restoration for reptiles and insects. To bring life and colour to your rockery, we are blessed with a huge selection of amazing waterwise shrubs here in South Africa. You can choose from a number of indigenous small shrubs including succulents like Aloes, Cotyledons, Delasperma and Crassulas, and other drought tolerant shrubs include our Proteas, Erica’s and Restios. There is a vast variety for you to achieve the look and feel you’re after. You can even add sitting areas and decking for greater use of the space.
If the thought of a rockery is too much for you, why not try planting up a beautiful succulent garden. Succulents are easy to grow in almost any soil that is well drained. Succulents are amazing plants which can store water in their leaves, stems and branches. Some can go for weeks or months without watering. They require very little maintenance (just need to be dead-headed and have dead leaves removed from time to time), suffer from very few diseases and pests seem to stay away. The best part about succulents though is that there are thousands and thousands of varieties with very interesting growth forms and absolutely beautiful flowers allowing you to get creative with your space. Succulents also flower throughout the year which provides an opportunity for interest even in the ‘boring’ months.
A fynbos garden will also save on water and once established pretty much takes care of itself. Fynbos plants are hardy and water wise and there is certainly no shortage of variety. As they are indigenous they can grow in sandy, nutrient-poor soil. So while you may need to invest in the plants in the short term you are going to save on compost and other soil conditioners in the future.
Another suggestion is perhaps think of looking at all the grey water in the house. What is happening to your bath and shower water? Your washing machine water? Are you using products which are biodegradable and therefore safe for the plants in your garden? Most of the water which comes out of your house can actually be used to water your garden. Consider putting a medium sized plastic basin to catch your shower water. When showering, turn off your shower while washing your body and hair and then turn on again to rinse. You can also use shower water to flush your toilet. If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down. Why not let your kids can bath together or one after each other using the same water? Keep the bath as shallow as possible. Perhaps, catch all your water from hand washing, rinsing fruit and veg etc. in a container which can be used to water plants later. Another great way to save water is to decide on one or 2 clothes washing days per week. This will ensure that you are only washing full loads, requiring fewer washing cycles. If you don’t have one, install a pool cover, this will help to reduce evaporation.
It is also a good time to consider investing in a rain water tank to collect for future use. The low rainfall is likely to continue next year so collecting water through winter will be a great help to get your garden through another season of water restrictions.
Facebook can also be a great resource for sharing information and ideas. Check out this group we found with tons of information on water saving Water Shedding Western Cape.
We certainly don’t have all the answers and would love to hear your water saving ideas too! As the saying goes “It takes a village…”.
Don’t forget to share your tips with us! And if you are not sure how to get any of the above suggestions started or don’t have the time, no worries! Get in touch and we will gladly help you out!