In your garden

In your garden

When you think about saving water outside your home, it's easy to think just about your garden. Yet there are other opportunities, such as paved areas, washing cars, your pool or spa.

Another way you can make a valuable contribution to improving South Australia’s sustainability is through rainwater collection. SA Health has some handy facts on the collection of rainwater for drinking purposes.

Planning your garden

Whether you’re establishing a new garden, revitalising a neglected one or adapting an existing one, it’s important to think about what you want your garden to achieve and how you can make it water efficient.

Here are three tips to set you on a path to success.

  1. Zoning: Placing plants with similar watering needs together is an efficient way to manage your watering. If you water your whole garden evenly, you’ll always be watering to the area of greatest need. By placing higher water use plants near the house, you can also help keep your home cooler
  2. Place based plants. It makes ecological and environmental sense to consider local species when designing your garden. Talk to your local nursery to find out which plants best suit your local rainfall and soil conditions. For plant specific information contact your local nursery or visit the Nurseries SA website
  3. Smart watering: With cool winters and long warm summers, as well as increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns, your garden requires an adaptable water management plan. Irrigation systems are the best way to deliver the right amount of water to each area of your garden. Many gardeners automate their irrigation systems during the summer months and while this helps you remember to water – it’s not the most efficient way to use it. Instead, keep your irrigation system adaptable, so you can account for natural rainfall.

Maintaining a healthy garden

Thriving gardens create value in our lives by keeping our homes cooler, reducing our energy bills, increasing our property’s financial value, and improving our overall wellbeing.

By adopting water efficient techniques, essential in our dry South Australian climate, you can create, maintain and enjoy a green, healthy garden all year round.

Here are few tips to help you create your water efficient garden – no matter how big or small.

Maintaining your garden over summer

There are some simple ways you can maintain a healthy green space over summer while remaining water efficient:

  1. Mulching your garden prevents excessive evaporation, keeping your soil moist and your plants watered. Ground covering plants can also provide excellent soil protection
  2. Shade trees not only keep your garden cooler, they provide protection from the sun for smaller plants, and reduce moisture loss in your soil
  3. By keeping an eye on the weather forecast, you can prepare your garden for heatwaves. Giving your lawn and garden a good soak two days before extreme heat will provide the moisture your garden needs to survive
  4. Don’t let your lawn die during summer. While many people let their lawns die during the summer, a healthy lawn is the best way to keep your garden and home cool. If you water in the evenings or early morning, the water won’t be lost to evaporation. (Interesting fact: In the sun, a dry, barren garden can be as hot as a bitumen road – artificial grass can be just as hot!)

Cooling your garden with water

You can reduce temperatures even further with just a small amount of water. Using water to cool your garden can also reduce your reliance on air conditioning and reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s how:

  1. A short “flash watering” of 30 seconds to a minute of leafy canopies can bring temperatures down by more than 10 degrees for up to 30 minutes
  2. Misting systems will create the same effect and can be set up to suit your outdoor living areas. They are also extremely water efficient – if you shorten your shower by one minute, you can run your misting system for two hours with the same amount of water!
  3. Under-lawn irrigation is an effective way to keep your lawn green with minimal water, otherwise make sure you water in the evening or early morning.

The video below helps explain some of these principles, as well as offering a few more handy tips.

Consider native plants

Using South Australian native plant species when planning your water efficient garden can help to create a heat-tolerant, biodiverse backyard.

While often unknown in mainstream horticulture, native plants are water-efficient, grow well in most South Australian soil types, and look attractive to the eye. When in bloom, natives also provide a great habitat and food source for local insects, birds, and other wildlife.

Out top South Australian native picks are:

Billy ButtonsBilly-buttons
(Pycnosorus globlus)

A drought tolerant perennial herb with striking golden globular flower heads. A great addition to dried flower arrangements,

Creeping BoobaliaCreeping Boobialla
(Myoporum parvifolium)

A great option to attract native butterflies, this is a hardy, lush-looking foliage ground cover plant, with small white flowers in blossom from Spring to Autumn.

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Fragrant saltbushFlagrant Saltbush
(Rhagodia parabolica)

With a flagrant foliage, the heat-tolerant Rhagodia is a nice option for screening and hedging.

4.Holly-leaf Grevilea Holly-leaf Grevilea
(Grevilea ilicifolia)

A hardy shrub that responds well to regular pruning and attractive to native honey-eaters.

Long purple flagLong purple flag
(Patersonia occidentalis)

A member of the iris family with spectacular three-petaled flower from Spring to Autumn. Thrives in full sun.

6.Minniritchi Mallee Minniritchi Mallee
(Eucalyptus miniritchi)

Sourced from the far north of SA, this long-lived species is great for small gardens.

Paper flowerPaper flower
(Thomasia petiocalyx)

The Paper Flower is a low-spreading shrub suited to most soil types. Flowers in the warmer months with delicate, paper-like pink blooms.

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Slender mintSlender mint
(Mentha diemenica)

With a flagrant foliage, the heat-tolerant Rhagodia is a nice option for screening and hedging.

smooth correaSmooth correa
(Correa glabra var. turnbullii)

Growing up to 1 metre in height, this compact shrub grows crimson flowers attractive to honey-eaters.

10.Sticky Boobialla Sticky Boobialla
(Myoporum petiolatum)

A fast-growing shrub with delicate white flowers prevalent in Spring and Summer.

10.Sticky GoodeniaSticky Goodenia
(Goodenia varia)

With bright yellow flowers and glossy green leaves, this SA native provides a habitat for native butterflies.