Waterwise Guide to Gardening: A Guide to Saving Water in Established Gardens

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Waterwise Guide to Gardening: A Guide to Saving Water in Established Gardens

Text of Waterwise Guide to Gardening: A Guide to Saving Water in Established Gardens

  • 1. O ETUIDEG WISINGTER DENWATHE A guide toGAR saving waterin establishedgardens.Edited by John Colwilllocal gardening expert www.watercorporation.com.au

2. The Waterwise Gardening 3. Guide In the metropolitan area approximately 60% of annual water consumption goes on watering lawns and gardens. In summer this figure rises to almost 80%. This booklet contains up-to-date information on techniques and practises that help save water in your garden even if it has been established for years. If you are starting a new garden from scratch, you will find a wealth of information that will let you plan and install a garden which will cope with our climate and meet your needs without wasting water. 4. ContentsIntroduction ................................................................................................1Garden design............................................................................................2Before you plant.......................................................................................3Soil improvement..............................................................................3Soils for containers ..........................................................................5What to plant ............................................................................................5Lawns .......................................................................................................5Methods of planting ........................................................................6Other garden plants........................................................................7Watering zones...............................................................................11How to water .........................................................................................12Sprinklers ............................................................................................12Micro-irrigation................................................................................13Choice of equipment...................................................................13Pressure ...............................................................................................14How much water to apply.......................................................14Making the most of Watering Zones.................................15Watering Lawns..............................................................................16Operation...........................................................................................16Waterwise lawn management................................................17Watering shrubs and perennials ...........................................18Watering fruit trees......................................................................19Watering pot plants .....................................................................20Watering hanging baskets .........................................................21Watering bedding plants ...........................................................21Watering vegetables.....................................................................21Irrigation .....................................................................................................22After you plant .......................................................................................22Lawn maintenance.........................................................................22Mulching gardens............................................................................23Mulching material...........................................................................24Applying mulches ...........................................................................24Changing an established garden ............................................25How Waterwise is your garden?...........................................27 5. IntroductionIn Perth and the Southwest of Western Australia wehave become used to enjoying a mediterranean climatewhere the winters are mild and wet and the summerslong, warm, hot and dry. However, most of our gardensand garden practices are still based upon northernEuropean models where the climate is cooler and wetterand the plants more delicate. As a result we have had touse a lot of water to maintain the exotic gardens andthe plants that we have become accustomed to growingsince the first European settlers arrived here.However, because there has been a dramatic decreasein the rainfall which charges our dams andgroundwater resources, and a steady growth inpopulation, there is an urgent need to reduce theamount of water that is used. The greatest potentialfor saving water is in the garden.Saving water does not have to mean browning off .Most gardeners regularly over-water. In these casesreducing water consumption will have little or no effectat all, sometimes it may even improve the garden. 1 6. Garden designThe average garden is a mix of both water consumingareas such as lawn, flower beds, borders and shrubberies,and hard or dry surfaces such as paving, sheds and pathways.When planning a new garden, or remodelling an old one,consider your needs like: Utility spaces such as clothes drying, compost andstorage areas. Outdoor living spaces such as courtyards, barbecuesand seating. Special needs such as a vegetable garden, swimmingpool, etc. How much time you have for garden maintenance. How much money you wish to spend on the garden.The general principles of saving water through gardendesign are to: Maximise the use of non-planting treatments such aspaving and mulches whilst at the same time beingaware of the risk of creating hot spots due to largeareas of unshaded paving. Manage lawn areas correctly so as to minimise theirwater requirement and not pollute groundwaterthrough excess fertilising. Lawn areas form partof our daily lives for recreation and appearancepurposes.They should be designed to fit into anoverall waterwise garden concept with the total areakept to a size which is consistent with functional andaesthetic requirements.2 7. Keep planted areas dense and consolidated. Sparse scattered plants are more difficult to water efficiently than those in defined areas. Make use of windbreaks, pergolas, screens, lattice, shadecloth and vines to shelter the house, outdoor living areas and plants. Prepare the soil before planting to ensure that plants can make the most of the water which is applied. Choose plants which have a low water demand. Group plants in such a way as to allow for efficient watering. Install a watering system that is both efficient and flexible. Monitor and adjust the amount of water that is applied on a regular basis.Before you plantSoil improvementAdding organic matter to the soil improves both itsmoisture and nutrient holding capacity.This means thatless water and fertiliser have to be applied and thatthese smaller amounts are then available for a longerperiod. As well as saving on water and fertiliser,there is better plant growth with less stressin-between waterings.It is particularly important to improve the top 15-20cmof soil where a plants feeder roots can be found.Old animal manures, compost and proprietary products3 8. are ideal soil improvers. Mix them in equal parts with thegarden soil prior to planting using the following areas asa guide. Generally the bigger the area prepared,the better the long term result. Shrubs, groundcovers and climbers 30cm in depthand up to half a metre across. Trees 40cm deep and 1 metre across Bedding plants 25cm deep for the whole bed. Lawns 15-20cm deep for the whole area.A common problem in sandy soils, when they dry out,is the development of non-wettable characteristics.Water applied to these soils simply pools on the surfacebefore eventually making its way down through one ortwo spots.The bulk of the soil remains dry.Non-wettable soils are particularly noticeable incontainers but are also a significant problem in lawnswhere they can lead to brown dry patches developing.A regular application of a soil wetting agent in spring isrecommended. Always water the material in immediatelyand thoroughly. If the first application does not seem towork, apply a second. Soils which are particularly proneto the problem may need a second treatment in summer.4 9. Soils for containers (including hanging baskets)Choose the best quality potting mix you can affordpreferably one approved by the Australian StandardsAssociation.The water and nutrient hold capacity of potting mixescan be further enhanced by the use of water absorbentpolymers. Some potting mixes may already contain them.Most plants are now grown in soil-less mixes whichquickly becomes non-wettable. One easy way to treatcontainer grown plants is to dip the whole pot into alarger container of prepared strength wetting agent.What to plantLawns Over a period of three Perth summers, turf researchtrials by the University of Western Australia indicatedthat a healthy lawn can be maintained by selectingfrom a range of warm season lawn grasses suited toour hot summer climate. Warm season grasses required significantly less waterthan cool season grasses. The turf trials also indicated that warm season grasseshave an excellent capacity to recover after periods oflow water supply, whereas cool season turf species didnot recover.The research substantiated the WaterCorporations advice that a standard drink of 10mmapplied three times a week provides the most optimalgrowing conditions in Perth for a correctly maintainedwarm season lawn.5 10. During the peak summer period, there was somedeterioration in the colour of kikuyu but only slightdecreases in other warm season grasses. However,they all recovered in autumn. During the same period,the cool season grasses went brown and did notrecover. The table below details the research findings.Variety Water HeatDroughtUse Tolerance ToleranceWarm SeasonCouch Types Low Excellent HighBuffalo Low Excellent HighSal