You can’t avoid the fact that our planet faces a global water crisis. Even if you live in an area where rain falls regularly, you need to be sensible and learn how to save water. We find it so frustrating when we hear people say, ‘Well, I’m not going to let my garden die,’ as they turn on the taps outside recommended water hours. Really, with just a little forethought, there’s no need to break the rules. It takes just a little thought about saving water and some minor adjustments to your lifestyle to maintain your vegetable patch/bed of azaleas/rose beds. We offer some easy-to-follow tips:
Optimise your time with the hose
Water before 10:00 in the morning and after 4:00 in the afternoon. Evaporation is highest in the hours between these periods, so if you water in the middle of the day there’s every chance that the water will simply evaporate, or that the sun shining on the water droplets will burn the leaves. Watering late at night can encourage mould and other fungal growth.
When watering, aim the nozzle at ground level so that you soak the soil rather than wet the plant. It may be more PT, but using a watering can will direct the flow to the correct place. Hoses waste water by splashing beyond where it’s needed.
If you use a hose, buy a nozzle that allows you to vary the spray and turn off the supply at the nozzle, rather than having to go back to the tap with the hose spraying uselessly.
Irrigation systems are best for saving water by optimising the process – they can be set on a timer and aim the water exactly where it is needed. If your budget allows for it, install a system that has an in-built rain sensor that automatically switches off the system when it starts to rain. That’s saving water in style!
While waiting for your shower to heat up, stand a couple of buckets under the showerhead to catch the cold water to use outdoors.
Recycle grey water
Water left over from your bath or sinks is perfect for watering plants, as long as you are not using harsh chemicals in the house. While waiting for your shower to heat up, stand a couple of buckets under the showerhead to catch the cold water to use outdoors.
Saving water is easy if you have a storage tank. Search online or consult your yellow pages to find a company that installs rainwater-storage equipment. It will install a rainwater-collection unit outside your home near the outlet pipes and plugged into an outdoor source of electricity. The unit is connected to a low-pressure irrigation system, pumping the water onto your plants. Underground tanks are available, as are filtering systems.
Saving water needs savvy. Want to reduce your dependence on municipal water and your soaring water bill? Installing a rainwater storage unit is a once-off expense that will pay for itself many times over. Of course, the amount of water you collect depends on the amount of rain and dew experienced in your area. The systems available range from a simple storage unit that filters water flowing down a downpipe into a underground tank that has a variety of filtering and self-cleaning mechanisms. The price of the units varies according to your budget.
Mulch, mulch, mulch
Saving water is easier if you mulch your flower and vegetable beds. Mulches are organic or inorganic materials that are spread on the soil around plants to prevent evaporation, keep the ground moist, protect the roots and prevent weeds appearing. The most common organic mulches include pine bark, lucerne, straw, peach pips, nutshells and dried rooibos tea leaves. You’ll find a selection of mulches at your garden centre.
So, from simple collecting of water from sinks and baths to installing evolved systems that are able to store a large volume of grey water, there’s no need for your garden to suffer. Really, saving water is the right thing to do. Don’t let the future be short of both water and beautiful plants…
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
This article has been adapted from the excellent article ‘Water saving’ published by The Gardener magazine. For more information about saving water in the garden and around the home, and information about suppliers, go to http://bit.ly/1hfdfTX
Water drop photo courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net