Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, yet we use more water per capita than any
other country. By reducing the amount of water we use in the garden, we can significantly save
water and prevent the need to build more dams’. There are many ways gardeners can use water
wisely to maintain a healthy garden.
On average we use just over one third of our household water on our gardens. By saving water in the
garden, significantly more is available to allow healthy flow rates in our rivers and wetlands. This is
essential for the wellbeing of the plants and animals that rely on our shared water resources for
moisture and habitat.
Plan your garden
Think about the different regions you have in your garden. Some places may receive more sun or
shade than others, some are wetter or drier and some are more exposed to wind. Choose plants that
are suited to these areas.
Group plants together that have similar water requirements. For example, locate fruit trees and the
vegetable garden close to each other. And don’t plant drought tolerant plants next to high water
Choose plant species carefully
Local indigenous plants are suited to the climate and soil of your area. Think about selecting some
indigenous plants that will grow well in your area. Or grow plants that have low water requirements.
Keep lawn area to a minimum, as it’s the biggest water guzzler in the garden! Plant trees to create
shade and reduce evaporation. Wise plant choice can dramatically reduce the need for lots of
Use the soil to store water
Good soil structure will hold water better than soil that has a low organic content. Soil structure can
easily be improved through the addition of organic materials such as compost and manures – plus
they provide food for your plants!
Use mulches to retain water within the root zone
Mulch is a fantastic water saver! It prevents evaporation by shielding the soil from the sun and
reduces water runoff during rain and watering. Mulch also helps keep weeds down, protects plants
from frost and heat, and improves soil quality. Mulching is covered in more detail in some of our
other info pages, check Meaningful Mulching
Watering – not Wasting
It’s best to water in the cooler morning or evening and preferably when it’s not windy. Using a hose
or irrigating without timers can waste huge amounts of water. Watering longer, but less often, will
encourage deeper roots and increase drought tolerance of your plants. Think about installing an
irrigation system that applies water at a known and appropriate rate. A rain sensor can be included
to prevent the system watering the garden when it is raining! Fittings such as drippers and micro-
sprays and perforated and porous soaker hoses are more water efficient than pop-ups and garden
Water in the cool of the morning or evenings
Water longer and less frequentlys
Plant some indigenous plants and or shade treess
Put in a watering systems
Reduce the amount of lawns
Don’t cut your lawn too shorts
Park the car on the lawn to rinse its
Use a broom to clean up instead of the hoses
Check for leaks from hose fittings and replace.s
Have a look into Melbourne Water initiatives on http://www.melbournewater.com.aus
Also make sure that you keep an eye on the forecast, there’s no point in watering in the mornings
if you know its going to rain and cool down in the afternoon. http://www.bom.gov.au/ If you have
a good watering routine that soaks deep to the roots every couple of days, your plants may be a
bit wilty, but will be fine to wait a couple of hours.
Collect your own water
Rainwater tanks can store water to supply your garden throughout the year. Using greywater from
the laundry and bathroom means a supply of recycled water is available every time you wash clothes
and shower, even in the summer when rainwater is often scarce.
During periods of water restrictions some of these watering methods may not be allowed. Be sure to
always check with your local water authority if you are unsure. Click here for a list of Australian
Low Water Use Plant Information
The following sites provide excellent, locally specific information on low water use plants.