Being water wise year round Part 2: Water wise design choices

KJ Reyland | 05 September, 2022

            Being water wise year round Part 2: Water wise design choices

If you are in the process of designing a new garden or if you want to make your existing garden more water wise, here are a few ideas to incorporate; 

Minimise Lawn or use an alternative.

Not what you wanted to hear but please keep reading! 

The lush swathe of green that we regard as a vital part of our garden is lovely (and practical if you have kids!) but they do account for a large amount of water and resources to help keep them looking immaculate. 

If your family are getting older or have left home, consider expanding the width of any garden beds that surround the lawn or create a central island garden so you lessen the overall size of the lawn. 

Consider using an alternative to grass such as creeping Thyme or dichondra that survives on rainwater alone. 

If that is too much to consider – mow your lawn less and raise the blade on the mower so the grass is taller. The taller the grass, the more tolerant of hot and dry conditions it will be. Limit your irrigation to the bare minimum or do a longer water, less often so the roots are more inclined to grow deeper. 

Select a grass seed that is better suited to dry conditions for a new lawn and oversow your current lawn if it is already established.. As a general rule, the finer the blade of grass, the more susceptible it is to damage and dry. Grass seed with coarser blades of grass are much more resilient and hardwearing. 

Consider irrigating the lawn less often or not at all over the summer time. Most irrigated lawns receive double what they need. 

Utilise natives or plants that are suited to your particular environment.  

-Repeat after me - ‘Right plant for right place’! See part one of this series for more details. 

-Carry out your planting in Autumn or spring whenever possible so the plants have access to soil moisture and regular rainfall while they are getting established so you can avoid extra watering.  

-If you are deciding upon a theme or style of garden, consider the plants and the water requirement. Does the style suit your environment or can you substitute more drought tolerant plants to achieve a certain look without requiring extra irrigation? 

Use ‘hydrozones’  

Put plants together that have a similar water requirement and only water that area according to their actual need. You shouldn’t be watering an entire garden the same amount.  For more information see Part 5 – Smart irrigation. 

 Consider wind direction and force. 

Where does the prevailing wind come from? Are there are any wind tunnels?  Wind can be just as drying as temperatures so it is important to either create shelter from the prevailing wind with hardy plants to create a microclimate or utilise plants across the whole site that are wind tolerant. This will help avoid the need for additional irrigation.

Take the time to plan before you plant and set your garden up to be water wise.