It may feel like stating the obvious when we say water is precious. It, of course, keeps us alive, but water is also a key component for maintaining a beautiful garden.
From tanks to plants, soil, lawns, mulch, taps, pools, rain, and tools; the possibilities are endless!
Here are our top tips to saving water in spaces big and small without compromising your garden’s water needs:
1. Water tanks
It is a common misconception that you need a big water tank to save a significant amount of water. In reality, if you live in a typical house and you divert just one of your down pipes, you can save up to 25kL per year with a 500-litre water tank. Alternatively, you could occupy your entire courtyard with a 30,000-litre tank and only save an additional 5kL.
There is a huge variety of water tanks out there designed for spaces of all shapes and sizes. Here are a few to consider:
The slimline water tank is the original space-saving water tank and it has done a fantastic job of bringing water tanks into our suburban homes. They come in shapes and sizes from ultra-thin to the not so slim. Most people will be aware of this type of water tank, but with current trends leaning towards higher density living, they are still too space hungry for many households.
Furniture rainwater tanks are the newest products on the market, and they are particularly targeted at modern subdivisions and townhouses with courtyards. They offer an attractive alternative to other water tanks and because they are dual-purpose, you also gain an outdoor entertaining area at the same time. It is a win for you and your guests.
Bladder tanks are made from a flexible membrane, which is designed to be hidden away under your house or deck. The flexible membrane allows it to be installed in tight places without the need for any major renovations. They come in any number of sizes to suit pier spacing and house configuration and there are a variety of suppliers available.
Rectangle tanks are rigid water tanks designed to fit under decks. They are more limited in their ability to fit through tight spaces during installation than the bladder tanks, but they are also significantly cheaper. Rectangle/under deck tanks come in many shapes and sizes to fit under most elevated decks and there are a range of suppliers available.
In ground/underground water tanks
These water tanks provide the ultimate space-saving solution because they only occupy space under ground. The biggest drawback is that you need to dig up the ground to install them. These water tanks are best suited to new developments as you can plan for them without needing to dig up your nicely manicured yard. Underground tanks come in all shapes and sizes.
2. Wait for the rain
Probably the easiest way to save water; the rain - this is where water butts come in handy! Pause your irrigation systems and let the rain do the rest. It is always best to use water sparingly.
3. Use your tools
Often when we see a pile of leaves covering the driveway, we reach for the hose to blow them away. Consider picking up the rake or the broom to clear away the mess instead and save the water for another day.
4. Pick the right plants
It can be easy to save water when you pick low-maintenance plants; opting for native varieties will mean less watering and maintaining but will keep your garden looking beautiful. This tip goes hand in hand with mulching your plants. Mulch is a covering, either made from straw or wood chips, that's laid around plants and beds and used to reduce evaporation and water run-off. As a bonus, it also provides nutrients to the plants that restrict weed growth.
5. Keep an eye on your hoses, taps and fittings
One leaking tap can waste up to 2,000 litres a month*. To check for leaks, turn on your appliance, check the water meter reading. Wait 4 hours and read again, if the meter has ticked over, something is leaking. You can help prevent leaks and drips outside by using good quality fittings like Hoselink’s Hose Connectors that are guaranteed to never leak or burst.
6. Water at the right time, when your garden needs it
By watering in the morning or evening, your garden will be more likely to retain the moisture rather than losing most of it to evaporation. An easy way to tell if your lawn needs watering is by stepping on it. If it springs back up, it likely doesn’t need watering. It is always best to do less frequent, thorough watering sessions rather than a light sprinkle every other day. By giving your lawn a good soak, you will encourage deeper roots, which will give you a stronger, more drought-resistant lawn. Where possible, choose a lawn that doesn’t need much water and is of a smaller size.
7. Use timers
Tap timers make it easy for you to track how much water you’re using for how long. Control how you often you water and delay watering it if it rains - this timer is available from Hoselink here and will help you to save more water without having to think too much about it.
8. How to save when doing chores
When you need to wash your car, consider doing it on the lawn - many car shampoos use the same phosphates as some fertilisers. You can also use a bucket in the shower to catch water and keep it for hand washing the car or watering the garden, this can also be done with the grey water from your washing machine. When purchasing new appliances that use water, such as toilets, dishwashers and washing machines, be sure to look for WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) water rating. Taking shorter showers, not over-filling your bath and ensuring you turn off the tap when brushing your teeth are some easy ways to reduce water wastage.
9. Home fixes
Group your plants together by water consumption and use a drip irrigation system (in conjunction with a tap timer) to prevent over-watering.
10. Use Sprinklers
Sprinklers are a great solution as opposed to using a hose. Sprinklers control duration of watering, the frequency of watering and will also direct the water to where it is needed. Avoid using your sprinklers if it is too windy to avoid wasting the water where it isn’t needed.
N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.