“Water flows from high in the mountains,
Water runs deep in the Earth,
Miraculously, water comes to us,
And sustains all life”. ~Thich Nhat Hanh~
A water wise garden does not mean a bland or desert like garden. These water wise tips are relevant for all gardens and are based on the premise that the health of your garden starts with the soil. The gardeners at the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens provide this information on the signboards in their water wise garden to help you make the best use of water in your garden.
The Warrnambool Botanic Gardens were designed in 1879 and continue to be an important part of the life of the city.
Know Your Soil
Different soils have different abilities to take up and retain soil moisture, so if you want to be water efficient, it is essential that you understand the type of soil in your garden.
Knowing your soil will help you select the right plants for your garden and make informed improvements that will result in a higher success rate.
Incorporating well composted, fine organic matter into the top portion of the soil profile should improve soil structure and capacity for water holding.
You cannot have healthy and drought proof plants without good soil. The better the soil the more water and nutrients it will absorb and retain.
It is also a good idea to start a compost bin. This will provide you with free organic matter that can be used in the garden as well as reducing landfill.
Well-rotted compost will improve the soil structure and stimulate the biological life of the soil.
Why Use Mulch
Mulch performs a number if beneficial roles in the garden – it helps protect the soil from drying out, suppresses weeds and adds organic matter to the soil.
An annual application of organic mulch will help minimise water through evaporation from the soil.
Mulching conserves water by decreasing evaporation and protecting the roots by insulating the soil. Coarse organic mulch should be applied in layers from 50-75mm thick.
Studies indicate that coarse mulches are preferable to fine mulches. In fine mulches the smaller particles have a tendency to compact into an impenetrable layer, preventing water from reaching the soil.
Mulching is the single most important thing you can do to help your garden survive in our dry climate.
What is good watering?
Water is a precious resource that should always be used as efficiently s possible. Good watering allows water to soak into the soil.
Watering deeply provides a larger ‘reservoir’ of water in the soil and also encourages the development of deep root systems that are more drought resistant.
Water should be delivered at a rate that the soil can absorb. Early morning is a good watering time when evaporation from soil and transpiration from plants is at its lowest.
Drip irrigation ensures water is delivered to a plant’s root zone where it is most needed. There is significantly less evaporation of water applied with drippers than by conventional sprinklers.
Aim to water deeply and less frequently.
Remember too, that water requirements change with the seasons. You will need to water much less in Autumn and Winter, when cooler weather means less evaporation and less plant growth, as well as periods of natural rainfall.