Here in the Cape we sit in the unfortunate position of having less rain in the traditional planting season of Spring and even less to none in the Summer when most people want to spend time engaging their gardens. This means that boreholes and irrigation systems become a necessary expense.
Our water bills are based on average consumption and the meters are read infrequently. This can result in very rude council bills if water consumption is not managed properly.
To reduce excessive council water bills employ us to design a water-wise garden layout, which will reduce the volume of water used and save you money.
As a landscaper I would recommend the following ways to reduce water consumption.
1. Xeriscape your garden.
a. Reduce the amount of lawn in your garden, as it requires more water than all the garden plants combined in the dry months. We all want green lawn in summer and so need to water this regardless. If you reduce the footprint of the lawn then you reduce the volume of water used to keep it green. Use lawn alternatives – there are ground covers, ornamental grasses and succulents perfect for this purpose.
b. Increase the size of the garden beds and plant only water wise shrubs and ground covers. Be conscious not to be mesmerised by little pretties that adorn the entrance at most nurseries. Often these plants have been heavily pampered to look the way they do and will require a lot of water to keep them healthy and happy. Buy these by all means, but plant them in pots to more easily manage their watering requirements.
Use flowering indigenous plants in your landscape – this is water wise and will also attract wildlife.
c. Go Zen – instead of lawn between the planted beds use gravel, mulch, pebbles, rocks, stone and timber to create generous walkways and exciting displays.
d. Pave parts of the garden – this will create functional and useful areas.
2. Manage your watering during the summer
a. Set the irrigation to come on between the hours of 8pm and 2am during the evening. This allows the moisture to get absorbed properly.
b. Programme the irrigation to water the planted beds only three times a week as the plants do not need water every day, unless newly planted.
c. Hand water in the evening just before sundown if your garden is smaller and more manageable. It may take time but it sure is therapeutic. In watering by hand we can focus on individual plants thus preserving water.
d. Water different areas of the garden on alternative days to reduce the volume of water consumed – this will reduce the water bill for sure.
3. Mulch the beds – add a 5cm layer of rough compost or mulch to the garden two or three times during the summer. The more mulch you have the less you have to water the planted beds.