Water-wise Gardening with Creative Living
Xeriscaping – “the art of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation.”
Water-wise gardening, or Xeriscaping, is probably something you’ve heard of before but, unless you’re an avid gardener, have probably not thought that much about.
Most people wouldn’t think that gardening could have such an effect on water consumption, but it definitely can. With the current droughts and unpredictable rainfall in South Africa, Xeriscaping is a good option to consider. Water-wise gardening doesn’t mean you can’t create the garden of your dreams either - here we’ll take a look at some ideas and tips on how to implement this great water-saving step and still have your dream garden.
One of the first things you would need to do is look at choosing plants that can thrive with little water, and have adapted to be water efficient. Luckily there are plenty of beautiful plants, many of them indigenous, that require minimal water once established. There are a few ways to tell if a plant is water efficient – plants with small, needle-like leaves such as Rosemary, Oreganum, and Thyme; grey leaved plants such as Lavender, Artemisia, and giant Honey Flower; waxy leaved plants such as Euonymus, Kalanchoe, and Indian Hawthorn. Other wonderful choices include the blue flowered Plumbago, purple Agapanthus, Black-eyed Susan, Strelitzia, and the famous Cape fynbos.
The next step is to group your plants according to water needs. Place plants that need a similar amount of water together and water each section of grouped plants separately. This will allow for less water wastage as you won’t end up giving too much water to those plants that don’t need it.
Next look at your lawn – grass is a very thirsty plant! There is a rising popularity in faux grass or simply having less lawn area. If you do want lawn then the best option is to make sure you don’t cut it too short. Longer blades ensure that the roots are protected and stops water from evaporating quickly. You can use the following guidelines for the length:
Kikuyu – 4 - 6cm
Fine grasses (Cynodons) – 3 - 4cm
Cool season evergreen grasses – 5 - 7cm
You can also plant wind resistant, water-wise trees and shrubs to provide your smaller plants with shade and shelter from the sun. The wind and sun can dry plants out quite quickly too.
Lastly, soil preparation and maintenance is of great importance. Dig in plenty of compost as it helps the soil retain more water, add nutrients and also encourages earthworms to move in.