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Waterwise gardening

STEP 1: OBSERVATION 

Spend some time observing your garden at different times of day to see where the shady spots are and which are the sun-drenched hot spots. Check out wind directions in the different seasons to see where windbreaks can make a difference. Consider using the slope of the land to irrigate your plants by trapping and directing rainwater in shallow furrows.

STEP 2: DESIGN 

Sketch your garden on paper, noting existing features such as large trees, pools, taps, pathways and benches. Look at where you can lead grey water from bathroom outlets using gravity, or if you will need a pump, and which are the best spots for rainwater tanks and a handy garden shed. This may be a good time to decide what features stay and what goes, or if anything needs moving or adding. 

Adopt a waterwise approach to landscaping your garden. 

STEP 3: ZONES 

Plot zones on your plan indicating what you’ll use each area for. It’s common sense to put the herb and veggie garden near the kitchen door. The next zone is the one around the front entrance: This is where you set the tone or theme of your garden. An entertainment area is another. Do you need lawn for children and animals to play on? If you do, consider keeping it to a minimum as shallow-rooted grasses need regular watering to look good. You may also want to keep a corner of the garden as wild and natural as possible to provide a refuge for birds and other creatures.

STEP 4:  PLANT SELECTION 

Group together plants that have similar water needs. For instance, a bed of wild irises (Dietes grandiflora) and hardy pelargoniums will require very little watering once established, whereas bedding plants like pansies will need watering two to three times a week.

View guidelines on how to choose water-saving plants.

STEP 5: LAYOUT 

Outline garden beds using a rope and pegs for straight lines, and a hosepipe for curved lines.  Add plenty of compost to improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture and feed your plants.

STEP 6: PLANTING 

Buy plants for each bed, according to your plan, and add a little fertiliser to each hole as you plant to give them a good start. Give them a welcome drink of water to settle them in.

Get some tips on what to plant for a waterwise garden.

STEP 7: MULCH 

Spread a thick layer of mulch over the whole bed to ensure moisture does not evaporate too quickly and to keep weeds down. Coarse compost breaks down slowly, feeding plants, but chipped bark also works well. Straw is great for veggies and strawberries as the fruits can rest on it.

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