an ever increasing rate, the pressure on our limited freshwater supply continues to mount. According to the Global Water Partnership, a third of the world’s population already lacks access to safe drinking water. Global water use has doubled in the last forty years, and unclean water is the second highest cause of death in children in the world. It has been estimated that the number of people living in water stressed countries will quadruple to 3 billion by 2025¹. Because clean water is such a valuable and limited resource, we should do whatever we can to conserve it. This includes implementing water-saving methods in and around the home. Here are five easy ways that you can make a difference by saving water in your garden:
- Harvest water – There are a number of ways that you can harvest or reuse water on your garden. Consider installing a rainwater tank to collect roof runoff. Rather than watching all of that valuable rainwater simply flow away down the stormwater drains, you could be reusing it and watering your garden to your hearts content. There are a range of cheap and simple rainwater collection systems on the market, with options for every household. You can also do things like saving cooking water from boiled or steamed foods, redirecting greywater (from washing machines, showers, and other household sources) onto your garden, and reusing old fish tank water².
- Manage lawns wisely – Some sources suggest that watering your lawn for an hour with a sprinkler can use as much water as a family of four would use in a whole day. By managing your lawn wisely, you can save huge amounts of water. Let the grass grow a little longer, as this will maximise water retention. Choose grass varieties which are hardy and don’t need a lot of water. Alternatively, stop watering your lawn in summer. Just because it goes a little brown doesn’t mean that it is dead – in fact, a lack of water can be good for the plants, as it encourages them to spread their roots further and deeper in search of water and other nutrients³.
- Use mulch – Using a thick layer of mulch or compost to cover the soil between plants can perform a number of functions. Not only will it ensure that maximal water is retained in the soil, but it will also provide valuable nutrients and prevent the growth of weeds. Less weeds means less water is being drawn from the soil, which means that it will stay wetter for longer⁴.
- Use a moisture meter – Using a moisture meter will allow you to easily and quickly get a feel for how much water is needed in different parts of your garden. This means that you will be able to only water where it is needed, and won’t waste time or water on areas which are already wet enough. If moisture content is below 30%, then water. If it is above 70%, then the soil is too wet. Anywhere between 30-70% indicates a good water content, and therefore there is no need to water².
- Choose your plants carefully – By choosing plants which are suited to your climate or which don’t use a lot of water, you will reduce the need to water your garden. Some things to look for which can indicate a plant with low water needs include small or narrow leaves, grey or silver foliage, or leathery, hairy or fuzzy leaves. Try to choose native species which are suited to your climate, as these will naturally have lower water needs. Alternatively, talk to your local nursery owner, who should be able to give you all the information you need².