Water-wise gardening has been covered in many articles in the gardening and landscaping industry. However, knowledge is power, and water-wise gardening will never lose its appeal or its benefits.
For those reading this article and this being the first time hearing about water-wise gardening, it is the practice of arranging or landscaping plants with specific water requirements into groups in the garden or using plants that require less frequent watering, to curb the water usage in the garden.
With the ever-changing weather patterns causing more frequent droughts and water restrictions, gardening, and the care of plants becomes more of a daunting task to keep both plants happy and water usage down.
Water-wise gardening requires some knowledge of what plants you have and what their water requirements are. Tropical plants that need constant watering, will benefit from being grouped and placed in more shaded areas to lessen water evaporation. Along with the help of mulch, plants that require more water will thrive, having the soil constantly moist, saving your water usage in the long run.
Cacti and succulent gardens are some of the easiest and cost-effective gardens to have set up. With minimal watering required, these gardens need very little maintenance and become more appealing over time.
Indigenous gardens work well for water-wise gardening as well, as they are more drought-tolerant and accustom to the South African climates.
Bear in mind the way you water your garden will be the deciding factor as to whether your garden will survive or thrive. Light constant watering will be more detrimental than beneficial, as only the leaves and top layer of the soil will receive water, with the majority of that water being lost to evaporation shortly after. This does not allow for the roots to develop a strong root system and makes them less adaptable to drought. Deep, infrequent watering will help plants to build a better root system more adaptable to drought.
There is no set way or benchmark for a water-wise garden, simply just practices that make for better water management.
Tips for water-wise gardens:
- plants grown in a coir/bark medium will require more constant watering, making them less suitable for water-wise gardens.
- soil types will affect the watering as well, clay soil holds too much water, sandy soil does not retain water well and loam soil holds moisture more evenly throughout the soil.
- mulch will keep the top layer of the soil moist and cool for longer, lessening the chance of evaporation and suppress weed growth.
- water directly onto the plant root zone, as irrigation systems only water the top of the soil, encouraging surface roots, rather than deep well-established roots.
- planting at the beginning of the rainy season gives the plants time to establish before the dry weather comes.
- weeding your garden will also allow less water to be taken away from your plants.