Be water wise

Be water wise

Spending time outdoors, even during the warmer weather, is beneficial for your health and wellbeing.

To help you beat the heat and help your garden to thrive during the summer months we have some practical and sustainable gardening tips to use water efficiently and effectively.

Hand water anytime

  • You can water by hand at any time, using a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, a watering can, bucket, or drip-feed irrigation system.
  • The most efficient time to water is before 9am, or after 6pm.
  • If your children like to play under the sprinkler, or they have water toys that attach to a hose, they can use it any time on lawn or in a garden.

Let your lawn grow longer

  • Barren and exposed soil absorbs heat and can be just as hot as a bitumen road or artificial lawn.
  • Let your lawn grow to around 2cm to keep it healthy, maintain good ground coverage and protect soil from the sun. This will help reduce evaporation and keep your soil most.
  • An easy trick to help you know when your lawn has had enough water is to pop a drinking glass under the sprinkler, around 1cm (or a fingernail length) of water caught in the cup is a good indication that your grass has had a decent drink.
  • Give your lawn or garden a good soak two days before a heatwave to help it survive and keep cool as temperatures rise.
  • Remember, the most efficient time to water is before 9am or after 6pm.

Flash watering

  • Giving your lawn or leafy canopy a quick 30 second spray will help bring ambient air temperatures down by up to 10 degrees Celsius for around 30 minutes.
  • Using a very small amount of water, or flash watering, can have the same cooling effect as an evaporative air conditioner in your garden, and can encourage birds to visit in search for a place to cool down.

Mulch is your friend

  • Exposed garden soil can be degraded by the harsh summer sun, leaving a surface that causes water to bead and run off, preventing infiltration into the ground.
  • Use mulch and incorporate ground cover plants into your design to protect the soil, encouraging healthy moisture-holding soil.

Cover your pool

  • During summer, even at night, your pool can lose water to evaporation due to the heat.
  • Using a pool cover can prevent water evaporation and provide a more effective use of your pool.

Sweep, don’t spray

Sweeping your paths and paved areas rather than spraying them with a hose is a more efficient and effective way to use water which is good for our gardens, good for the environment and good for all South Australians.

We recommend only hosing down paved areas to:

  • protect public health
  • ensure the safety of people using the area
  • ensure the health and welfare of animals using the area
  • deal with fire, accident or other emergencies.

Make sure you use a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, or a high-pressure, low-volume water cleaner.

When to wash vehicles and boats

To ensure the most efficient use of your water, park your car or boat on a lawn before you wash it and use a:

  • bucket or watering can
  • high-pressure, low-volume water cleaner
  • hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

Misting systems

  • Much like flash watering, a basic misting system can reduce air temperatures in your backyard by more than 10 degrees.
  • Misting systems are extremely water efficient. If you shorten your shower by one minute, that same volume of water can run your misting system for two hours.
  • Creating a cooler outdoor area means you can spend more time outside and reduce the use of your air conditioner.

Soil support

  • Shrubs and trees can be layered over ground covers to create a complete vegetation system. Refer to our Native garden inspiration list for examples of good ground cover species.
  • Your soil will hold water for longer if you add some organic matter or a wetting agent, and mix through for moisture efficiency. When your soil stays moist, you don’t need to water as often.
  • Irrigate according to your soil type. Clay soil needs a nice big drink with a steady flow and can hold onto that water for longer. Sandy soil needs less water more frequently.
  • A quick and easy way to tell if your soil has the water it needs, is to use a moisture probe. In just a few seconds, the dial will indicate if your soil is dry, moist or wet.

Plan ahead

  • Group plants together according to their water requirements. Create watering zones and use a watering can or drippers to apply the right amount of water needed for each zone.
  • Use layers to fill a space vertically and protect the soil from the harsh sun, retain moisture and create a microclimate in your garden. Include matt forming or ground cover species, low plants, shrubs and trees to create a three-dimensional structure, designed to grow well and look lush.
  • Keep on top of weed removal to reduce water wasted on weeds that compete with your plants and lawn for moisture.

During hot weather, the priority is for you and your family to stay safe, stay hydrated and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses. We recommend you only try these initiatives if it works for you, and for more advice on keeping cool in summer, visit the SA Health website.