South Africa is a water scarce country and keeping a garden in good shape requires this precious resource in abundance.
It becomes a further problem when there are water restrictions, which can potentially render your garden a barren wasteland.
But there are ways to reduce water consumption, and that involves planning a water-wise garden.
Indigenous plants and trees which are hardy and have evolved to deal with the climate and rain patterns, are a sure way of ensuring your garden looks fresh and appealing, while attracting birds and insects for their fruit or flowers for pollinating. Indigenous trees also provide shade, reducing evaporation during the hot summer months.
Tshwane- based waste control firm IWESCO offers these tips to get onto the water-wise movement.
1. Reduce the size of the lawn
The first and most important step to reducing the water requirements for your garden is to minimise the size of your lawn or remove it entirely, since it needs 25 mm a week in summer to stay green. A water-wise flower bed may only need half that, or none at all if it is turned into a pebble or stone area.
2. Make use of wild grass or woodland areas
If your property has indigenous grass or woodland areas, incorporate these into the garden. Do not remove wild grass or indigenous trees. These areas can act as your own nature reserve that attracts local wildlife and survives on the annual rainfall.
3. Plant indigenous species
Local plants are quite hardy and naturally require less water. These include indigenous succulents, shrubs and trees, such as aloes, spekboom, agapanthus, carpobrotus, bulbine, cancer bush and more.
4. Zone plants with similar water requirements
By planting species with similar water requirements together, you can maximise the efficiency of your irrigation. This will save you time and effort when it comes to watering your garden in the dry months. It also allows you to create different flower beds with their own characters, such as a cacti bed or a wild grass and ground-cover bed.
5. Use mulch and avoid raking
Fallen leaves create natural mulch that traps water vapour in the soil. Do not rake up leaves and avoid turning over your soil. If your garden does not have many leaves, use a mulch to protect your soil and improve its water retention. The absence of leaves or mulch results in dry, dusty soil that compacts into a hard surface.
By applying some of these tips you will be reducing pressure on our water supply as well as save you money.
Original article appeared on IOL