In your garden

In your garden

Whether you’re a new green thumb or a seasoned horticultural guru, using water efficiently will help you achieve a thriving garden and enable you to enjoy the many benefits of spending time outdoors, even during warmer weather.

Using our water management expertise, as well as the knowledge we’ve gained from the many gardening groups we work with around South Australia, we want to provide you with practical ways to apply sustainable gardening and watering practices in your own backyard.

Cooling with water

Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and severity of hot, dry spells across Australia. Getting the most value from your water will not only help to maintain a green, healthy garden, including during summer months, it will also help to cool your home and reduce your energy bills.

When to water

Water Wise Measures are a permanent reminder to adopt smart watering practices. They have replaced water restrictions across the state and provide guidelines for efficient water use. Penalties apply for non-compliance.

The times in which you can water depend on where you are watering.

When to water: Home gardens and lawns

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.

Sprinklers can be used for watering before 10am, or after 5pm.

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. Just make sure it's turned off when they have finished.

Hosing down driveways, paths, verandas, and entertaining areas

You can only hose 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 water: Washing vehicles and boats

You can wash vehicles or boats if you use a:

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

And to get the most out of your water use, park your car or boat on a lawn before you wash it, if you can.

Flash watering

  • Giving your lawn or leafy canopy a quick 30 second spray help bring ambient air temperatures down by up to 10 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  • Using a very small amount of water, 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.

Misting system

  • Much like flash watering, a basic misting system can reduce air temperatures in your backyard by more than 10 degrees.
  • You might be surprised to learn 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 outdoors means you can spend more time outside and reduce the use of your air conditioner.

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.

The specifics

Whether it’s knowing the best time of day to water, how to look after your soil or where in your garden you should plant, here’s some handy tips:

Heatwave help

  • Give your garden a good soak two days before a heatwave to help it survive and keep cool as temperatures rise.
  • Keep your lawn healthy and maintain a good ground coverage, especially during summer. Barren and exposed soil absorbs heat and can be just as hot as a bitumen road or artificial lawn.
  • Let your lawn grow a little longer in summer to at least two centimetres, to provide enough leaf canopy and protect the soil from the harsh sun.
  • Water first thing in the morning or in the cool of the evening, for maximum benefits to your garden.

Soil support

  • 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 spread and protect the soil, encouraging the formation of a healthy moisture-holding soil.
  • Shrubs and trees can be layered over ground covers to create a complete vegetation system. Refer to our below list of garden worthy natives 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.
  • Use mulch in your garden to substantially reduce evaporation in your garden and reduce the need to water as often.
  • Keep on top of weed removal to reduce water wasted on weeds, that compete with your plants and lawn for moisture.