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Designing a Water Wise Garden

18 November 2010

The way your garden is designed can play a significant part in how much water you use. Below is a list of planning and general design principles to consider when designing a waterwise garden.

  • Orientation: sun and shade, the prevailing winds and water run off. Protecting plants from the wind reduces water use and stress and by shaping the ground around plants will ensure that unseasonal rain can be directed to the plant roots rather than be lost in runoff.
  • Soil types: water holding capacity, compaction, water repellence and fertility levels.
  • Availability of alternate water sources like groundwater, greywater and rainwater.
  • Utility spaces (clothes drying, compost and storage areas), outdoor living spaces (barbeques, seating areas) and special needs (vegetable garden, swimming pool etc).
  • Plant preference and design styles (native/exotic, formal/informal etc).
  • Hydrozoning: select plants with similar watering requirements and arrange them together to maximise watering efficiency. One drop plants are those with a low watering requirement and will only need occasional watering over summer.
  • Maintenance expectations and available budget.
  • Maximising the use of non-planting treatments such as paving and mulches. However be aware of excessive unshaded paving which can create a 'hot spot'.
  • Keep planted areas dense and consolidated. Sparse scattered plants are more difficult to water efficiently than ones that are in defined areas.
  • Keep lawn for functional and aesthetic requirements and avoid using as a 'filler'.
  • Choosing a lawn type that is water efficient and best suited to your soil. Members of the Turf Growers Association can advise you on the most suitable type.
  • If you are establishing a new lawn or garden you may apply for an exemption for it to become fully established if you meet the criteria. For more information about exemptions refer to The Water Corporation web site.
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