National Water Week: Is your garden waterwise?

Plant low water zones with drought resistant plants like colourful vygies and other succulents.

WITH World Water Day celebrated on March 22 and South Africa designating March 20 to 26 as National Water Week, the South Coast organisation, Delight in Indigenous Gardening (Dig) has pointed out that one of the many benefits of gardening with indigenous plants is that they are waterwise and drought resistant.

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This informal group of indigenous gardeners, established under the auspices of the Ivungu River Conservancy, has extolled the virtues of our native plants for many years. By holding open gardens and garden shows they have successfully highlighted the beauty and usefulness of locally indigenous plants as garden subjects. The many indigenous gardens in this area have really come into their own in recent years as they have admirably survived the recent, serious drought..

Many of the Dig gardeners have made their gardens even more waterwise by installing water tanks to harvest rain water and some have even gone to the expense of installing grey water irrigation systems.

They have found the water they harvest to be more than enough for their garden needs and only really use the harvested water to irrigate pot plants, to give newly planted trees and shrubs a watery head start, to top up ponds and to give a little extra water to a few of more thirsty indigenous species. Most of their indigenous plants hardly ever need watering, even during the drier period.

Aloes thrive without too much water.

Another waterwise tactic is to zone your garden by grouping plants according to their water needs. As Rand Water points out large areas of gardens are wastefully watered because of just a few plants that need extra water. Focal points are important in any good garden design and emphasis is placed on them in water-wise gardens to maximize the efficiency of each of the hydro zones.

The high water zones are concentrated at these focal areas and often include plantings of thirsty annuals, some of which can be placed in containers for added water efficiency.

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The medium zones are made up of hardy shrubs, perennials and ground covers that will tolerate water rationing should it be required. Plants in this zone will form the backbone of most gardens.

The low water zones are large areas of non-watered lawns and drought resistant plant like aloes and other succulents. These hardly ever need watering.

Valuable rain water often flows down paving and paths straight out of the garden into storm water drains. What a waste this is when a little garden engineering could channel the water off the hard surfaces onto the garden beds.

Dig members are very conscientious about mulching and about sweeping leaves and other organic matter straight into garden beds or onto compost heaps instead of sending this valuable material to a landfill. As well as keeping the soil nice and moist, mulching keeps down the weeds, an extra bonus for the busy gardener.


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Judi Davis

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