A large amount of all residential water is used outside – on our lawns and gardens, and washing of cars and driveways. But there are numerous ways you can dramatically reduce your water usage in the outdoors.
Different soils retain different volumes of moisture as demonstrated in the table below.
|Water (mm stored in 20cm depth of soil)||12mm||42mm||28mm|
- Replace the soil with better quality loam.
- Treat the soil with a wetting agent or using water crystals.
- Add organic matter such as compost.
- Use plants which thrive in sandy soils, such as coastal plants and some Australian native plants.
- Consult your local horticultural specialist about how to improve sandy or poorer soils.
- Choose plants which have a low water requirement and are likely to thrive in the specific conditions in your garden.
- Native species are usually less thirsty than many exotics and require less nutrients, so you shouldn’t need to fertilise very often.
- Group plants that require similar watering regimes together.
We have compiled a list of beautiful plants suitable for our area that have a low water requirement. You can choose the category of plant by clicking on the name below:
(over 8 metres)
|Moreton Bay Pine|
|Norfolk Is Pine|
|Lace Bark Kurrajong|
|Ivory Curl Flower|
|Lemon Scented Gum|
|Moreton Bay Ash|
|Chinchilla White Gum|
|Weeping Lilly Pilly|
|Chinese Elm (not celtis)|
|Broad-leaved Paper Bark|
|Illawarra Flame Tree|
|Western Australian Peppermint|
|Narrow Leafed Bottle Tree|
(4 metres to 8 metres)
|Black Tea Tree|
|Mt Morgan Wattle|
|Small Leaf Lilly Pilly|
|Irish Strawberry Tree|
|Belladonna Flame Tree|
|Dawson River Bottlebrush|
|Weeping Emu Tree|
|Pink Wax Flower|
|Queensland Silver Wattle|
|Ivory Curl Flower|
|Bushy Sugar Gum|
|Bracelet Honey Myrtle|
|New Zealand Christmas Bush|
|Sun Rose or Rock Rose|
|Mini Ha Ha|
|New Zealand Tea Tree|
|Tiny Heath Myrtle|
|Lemon Scented Myrtle|
|Dwarf Book Leaf|
|Pride of Madeira|
|Ivy Leaf Pelargonium|
|Salvia (non weedy species)|
|Paint Brush Lily|
|Climbing Guinea Flower|
|Wonga Wonga Vine|
|Pink Trumpet Vine|
|Chinese Star Jasmine|
|Ornamental Grape Vine|
|Red Hot Poker|
|New Zealand Flax|
|The Bird of Paradise|
|Nodding Blue Lily|
|Hawksberry River Daisy|
|Pig Face/Ice Plant|
|Silver Morning Glory|
|Purple Morning Glory|
|Golden Guinea Flower|
|Silver Fan Palm|
|Blue Hesper Palm|
|Mediterranean Fan Palm|
|Canary Island Date Palm|
|Dwarf Date Palm|
|Cliff Date Palm|
|Silver Date Palm|
|Mexican Sabal Palm|
|Dwarf Sabal Palm|
|Calfornian Fan Palm|
|Rough Maidenhair Fern|
|Birds Nest Fern|
|Soft Tree Fern|
|Creeping Shield Fern|
- A hose with a trigger is handy when watering but remember to turn the hose off at the tap when finished.
- Manual method of watering (hose and sprinkler or by hand) generally use less water than automatic irrigation systems. These methods also allow you to direct the water exactly where you want it.
- Drip irrigation reduces evaporation. Existing spray irrigation systems can be converted to drip systems easily and cheaply by changing the spray heads to drip runners.
- Let your plants indicate when they are in need of water and only then apply enough water to reach the plant root zones.
- Water at dawn to avoid evaporation and fungal diseases.
- Use greywater from your washing machine, laundry tub, shower, bath and sinks for watering purposes.
- If you have an evaporative airconditioner, direct the overflow into the garden.
- Use a timer on your sprinkler so you don’t forget to turn it off.
- Water small areas by hand to avoid waste.
- Watering less frequently but more thoroughly encourages plants to develop deeper root systems, allowing them to better prepare for drought.
Planning irrigation for your garden
When planning a new irrigation system or modifying an existing system you should select the system and emitters which are efficient and appropriate for your:
- soil type of your garden
- plant selection
For example, drippers are an excellent and water-wise irrigation option for most gardens, but may not be suitable for sandy soils.
You should consult your local irrigation professionals, horticultural specialist or nursery to determine which system(s) are right for your garden. Your irrigation specialist may design a different type of system for different parts of your garden.
Take a simple plan of your garden along to your local retailer or irrigation specialist so that they can help you design a system which will distribute the right amount of water in the right places.
Installation of new irrigation systems
If you are planning to install a new irrigation system for your garden then you will need to be aware of, and comply with the Efficient irrigation for water conservation guideline.
- Keep your gardens weeded. Weeds compete with the grass for water.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch allows the garden to retain moisture in the soil and controls weeds.
- When adding new plants to your garden, prepare the garden bed with good soil, water storing granules and wetting agent.
- Prune plants in spring to reduce leaf area which in turn reduces the plants water usage.
- Improve your soil. Soils with high water-holding capacity, effective drainage and infiltration need less frequent watering. All soil types improve with the addition of organic matter.
- If planting grass on a new block, use water efficient turf varieties such as buffalo grass, couch grass or zoysia grass.
- The depth and quality of soil beneath your lawn influences the water retention of your lawn.
- The underlay soil should be a minimum of 100mm deep.
- The underlay should be quality loam with sand, silt, clay components and organic matter.
- A less-than-lush lawn is acceptable when being responsible with water. Just because grass is brown, doesn’t mean it’s dead – it’s just dormant. Dormant grass only needs water every three weeks. When the rain comes, it will turn green quickly.
- Keep your lawn weeded as weeds compete with the grass for water.
- Apply the minimum amount of fertiliser needed to reduce watering demands. Apply fertiliser during the spring and summer months when there is higher rainfall and your lawn is actively growing. Use small amounts of an organic fertiliser as this will require far less water post-application than a chemical fertiliser.
- Install a rainwater tank for watering purposes. To find out more about tanks, read our Rainwater tanks article.
- Only water your lawn when required. Signs that your lawn is ready for watering include: changing colour, the soil below is difficult to penetrate using a sharp object and the lawn doesn’t spring back after being walked on.
- Turn off the automated sprinkler system when rain is coming.
- Check the spread of your sprinkler system.
- If you have an evaporative airconditioner, direct the overflow into the lawn.
- Reduce your lawn area with attractive water conservative plant options and ground covers e.g. pebbles.
- Aerate your lawn so water can reach the roots.
- Winter lawns require less watering than summer lawns.
- Adjust your lawnmower to a higher setting. Longer grass will reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
- Less watering means slower grass growth and gives you an excuse to ignore the mowing for longer! Mow outside of the heat of the day so your newly cut lawn doesn’t dry out.
- Sweep your driveways and paved areas rather than wash them down.
- An annual maintenance wash down of windows, surfeit and walls will preserve surfaces longer and reduce the need for a major clean.
- Use a bucket and sponge rather than a hose to wash your car. When using a hose for rinsing, attach a trigger nozzle so you can control the flow of water.
- Use a waterless car wash or low water car wash.
- Wash your car in the rain.
- Wash your car on the grass using biodegradable cleaning chemicals, so the runoff water waters your lawn for free.
- Use a pool cover to dramatically reduce loss of water by evaporation.
- Simple leaf covers will reduce evaporation by approximately 40%.
- Thicker blankets and security covers will save up to 90% evaporation.
- A liquid pool cover will reduce evaporation by up to 40%.
- Increase shade over the pool to reduce evaporation.
- Protect your pool from the wind to lessen evaporation.
- Backwash only when necessary.
- Keep the pool and filters clean to reduce the frequency of backwashing.
- A sand filter can use up to 8000L of water each year for backwashing. If installing a new pool or changing your filter ,swap to a cartridge filter which doesn’t require backwashing.
- Keep the water level a bit lower to prevent spillage.
- Use a rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter to fill the pool or spa.
- You can still have fun in the pool without wasting water. Discourage dive bombing and constant jumping in and out of the pool. Pool users can skim the water off their body on the top step before getting out so the water is returned to the pool.