With much of the country still under strict water-restrictions, these water-wise gardening tips are need-to-know info no matter where you live
1) Harvest rainwater: It’s safe to say South Africans have all learnt a lesson or two thanks to our recent and ongoing droughts. It’s pretty absurd that we use treated drinking water to water our gardens. If you can, consider installing a rainwater tank for irrigation.
Alternatively, simple solutions such as placing buckets under downpipes can provide enough water to feed your indoor plants.
2) Compost: Soil packed with organic matter is much more effective at holding water. The science is simple – water runs quickly through sandy soil, and it struggles to enter clay soil. At least once a year you should add a good amount of organic compost to your entire garden – trust us, your plants will thank you too!
3) Mulch: You can trap water in your soil and prevent it from evaporating quickly by adding a layer of mulch. This doubles up as an insulator in winter, preventing frost from getting to your plant roots. There are myriad forms of mulch, including simple solutions such as leaves, bark chips, straw or grass clippings.
4) Ditch the lawn: We all love a rolling green lawn, but it is one of the biggest culprits for water guzzling. It’s also a nightmare to maintain, so for a stress-free, water-wise garden, ask your nursery about other, preferably indigenous, groundcovers.
5) Local is lekker: If you are planting new plants (or replacing ones that died in the drought), consider indigenous options rather than exotics. South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, so there’s certainly no lack of choice. The plus? Indigenous plants attract bees, survive our climate better and use less water.
6) Planning is everything: If you are planting a new garden, use what you have already to save water – flowers planted in the shade of a tree will require less frequent watering, make sure you place plants that need similar amounts of water together, and so on.
7) Spend time in the garden: Did you know that healthy plants need less water? Look after your plants by weeding, getting rid of pests (organically if possible) and pruning, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy, water-wise garden.