Water wise or drought resistant plants are generally used in sections of the garden that you may not want to water regularly. South Africa is a dry country with an average rainfall of less than 500 mm pa. A garden can consume between 30% and 50% of the total water used in a household. Planting water wise plants that need little additional watering can be a major saving for any household.
Key issues for developing a water wise garden include the following:
- Group plants with similar water requirements in the same beds.
- Reconsider the lawn – this is a water guzzler.
- Replace areas of lawn with indigenous groundcovers or gravel
- Annuals and bedding plants require a lot of water – minimize areas for planting these.
- Use water wise plants such as agapanthus, dietes, tulbaghia and plumbago for the pavements or areas which are less frequented in the garden.
- Mulch your plants to reduce water evaporation and keep the soil cool.
- Build your own compost heap in the garden for all organic garden and household refuse and apply lavishly to the garden.
- Never water during the midday heat in summer to reduce evaporation.
- Deep weekly watering rather than shallow daily watering encourages deep root growth.
- Water the roots of trees by planting irrigation pipes in the soil next to trees. The pipe should start above the ground surface and run to about 50cm below ground.
- Harvest rainwater for re-use in the garden.
- Reduce the paved area in your garden to allow for water seepage.
- Install grey-water recycling systems to re-use bathwater for the garden.
- Watch the weather report and switch off automatic sprinklers if rain is expected.
See the list of water wise plants supplied by Windy Willows with details of where to plant, how tall they grow, and the degree of frost sensitivity.