Water-wise or drought-resistant plants are generally used in sections of the garden that you may 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 save money 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.