One of the top problems planet earth is facing is Global Warming. With this global problem comes unusual weather patterns. Unfortunately, as a direct consequence of the unusual weather patterns, many areas in South Africa are currently facing or have already been affected by severe droughts and water scarcity. Even if your province has not yet been affected by drought and the consequential water scarcity, you need to know about the many ways of saving water. Water has become a precious commodity, and we all need to do our part in conserving it.
ADVICE FROM ERNST VAN JAARSVELD on the top 10 ways of saving water.
Ernst van Jaarsveld, the author of Waterwise Gardening, was interviewed by Kim Grove in the November issue of House and Leisure last year. House and Leisure caught up with Ernst to find out what tips we should consider when trying to save water in our gardens. We at Contours Landscapes decided to feature it here on our site since it is the perfect guide for those of us with indigenous gardens. It offers helpful advice on the subject of saving water. Furthermore, it outlines the various plants that are conducive to saving water in a South African climate.
So, without further ado, lets answer the question: What are the top 10 ways of saving water?
1. REDUCE YOUR LAWN.
Lawns require lots of watering and fertilisers to keep them in a good condition, so it’s best to reduce the size of your lawn and rather replace it with ground covers or artificial grass. Some indigenous grass species, such as Cynodon dactylon and Buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum) and some cultivars of Cynodon dactylon are more drought tolerant than others. Our blog on the different grass types in South Africa will give you extensive information on choosing the grass type that is right for your garden. Furthermore, we also have a blog that deals with Lawn care. In these two blogs, you will find some expert advice and many helpful tips for caring for your lawn.
2. MAKE USE OF DROUGHT-TOLERANT GROUND COVERS to save water.
Not only do they require less attention, but they’re also more natural. Othonna capensis, Gazania rigens &Plectranthus neochilus with succulent leaves are excellent examples. Under trees, make use of Hen & Chickens (Chlorophytum comosum), Clivia miniata, Asparagus or spotted onion (Drimiopsis maculata). Planting the above-mentioned ground covers is one of the many ways of saving water!
3. MAKE USE OF AN ORGANIC OR INORGANIC TOP DRESSING.
This will protect your soil, with all its living organisms, from drying out. It will also reduce weed growth, which requires disturbed soil and sun to germinate. Thus with this simple action, you would solve two problems!
Certainly, one of the best organic top dressing you can use is compost. We recommend that you consider making your own compost. Apart from saving money, there are numerous other benefits linked to making your own compost. Luckily for you, we have written a blog that explains how to make compost at home. Moreover, we mention all the benefits of making compost instead of buying it. Furthermore, we also link to the Western Cape government’s website, where they explain how Capetonians can get a free compost bin!
4. PLANT MORE SUCCULENTS. Certainly, one of the best ways of saving water!
Succulents are nature’s solution to a dry environment. Think Cotyledons, Aloes, Mesembs etc. These plants conserve moisture in their leaves and are, therefore, very drought-tolerant. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is another amazing, versatile plant that can be used as a fence or topiary. It can even be grown into a small Spekboom tree. Many succulent trees, such as Aloe barberae, Euphorbia triangularis and more, don’t require ample water.
5. SELECT PLANTS WITH GREY OR SILVER HAIRY FOLIAGE.
This is also a sign of drought tolerance. Their beautiful leaf colour and texture will also add beauty to your garden. Many of the cycads with blue to grey foliage are extremely drought tolerant. Everlastings (Helichrysum) are good examples too.
6. PLANT BULBS OR PLANTS WITH TUBEROUS ROOTS.
Again, these are great options for an area with little water. Asparagus ground covers have fleshy roots and always appear to be in great condition, even under very dry conditions. Asparagus densiflorus and its cultivars are also options that will work.
7. Collect and use GREYWATER. ANOTHER ONE OF THE BEST WAYS OF SAVING WATER!
Bathtub water can also effectively be used to water your trees. Some plants are more sensitive, but most drought-tolerant plants, such as succulents, are very tolerant to slight pollution. So go ahead and use recycled water to keep your plants moist. This is most definitely one of the best ways of saving water. Why flush water down the drain if you can use it for your garden?
8. WATER DURING THE LATE AFTERNOON OR NIGHT.
This is when evaporation is at its least. You thus allow the plants and soil to take full advantage of absorbing the water with less transpiration. Another thing to remember is that drip irrigation for your trees is beneficial during the night.
9. MAKE USE OF YOUR ROOFTOP TO COLLECT AND STORE WATER.
This is a valuable source of water. Your garden can benefit from this much-needed rainwater if you purchase a large storage tank and place it next to your roof. Although the initial cost of installing a water tank might be high, the cost saving on your water bill will quickly pay for your investment!
10. AVOID INORGANIC FERTILISERS
Unfortunately, inorganic fertilisers speed up plant growth and increase water requirements. Of course, you should avoid using inorganic fertiliser if your aim is to save water. So it is best to use compost or other slow-release organic fertilisers. They are also more natural and thus beneficial to the plants and environment.
For more insights check out Ernst van Jaarsveld’s Waterwise Gardening guide from Random House Struik (R308).
Interviewed by Kim Grové
We hope this blog article will help you keep enjoying your gardening and that you now know how to do so while saving water. From all of us at Contours Landscapes, Happy Gardening!