Water saving approaches to gardening

Some every day watering tips

Your watering techniques may have to change in the not too distant future. Overhead watering and sprinklers may actually be banned in some areas and seasons. Flood irrigation (that’s what I call it when I forget to turn the hose off) could be another taboo.

There are some very effective and efficient ways to improve your daily watering:

  • Avoid overhead watering – it can damage leaves and waste water
  • Don’t water when the temp is above 30°C – water can evaporate very easily
  • Check the temperature of the water in your hose before watering – it can be very hot and damage leaves
  • Water immediately before and after any rain – this helps the rain or water to soak deeper
  • Avoid the temptation to flood the garden – water slower for longer to allow it to soak in
  • Give your plants a little spray from time to time. It helps keep humidity up and deter Spider Mites.

Water saving approaches to gardening

We’ve tried almost every water saving technique possible over the last few years. The following are our favourites from that time. We found a few unsuitable for our space, as you will with yours but they all work well in the right situation.

Aquaponics, hydroponics and aeroponics

Once established they are super efficient users of water.

Compost and organic materials

Organic materials in your soil act as a sponge, absorbing and holding water for the plants to take up later. As they break down, they release nutrients into your soil to feed your plants.

Compost, mulch and worm castings all add to the level of organic material and increase water retention. As organic material breaks down, it becomes fine humus that benefits soil enormously. From humus, in turn comes humic acid which helps break down inorganic soil components and aids plants in up taking nutrients.

Be careful that your soil or mulch doesn’t dry out too much though, it can become hydrophobic and actually repel water. You’ve probably seen this when the water from your tap just beads and runs off of your soil and it takes time and a lot of water to restore its ability to absorb and hold moisture.

Drip irrigation

Deliver water with pinpoint accuracy

Ground covers

Ground covers are a much more pleasing way to shelter the soil and can even protect the integrity of your mulch.

Choose the right ground cover for the area of the garden and your water regimen and you can be rewarded with something quite beautiful, if not edible.

Sweet Potato is our favourite ground cover

Our favourite ground covers are – Sweet Potato for the moister, shaded areas; Warrigal Greens for areas with less moisture and more Sun and, finally Pig Face for the fence line and verge, which get the least water and maximum exposure.

Gutter gardens

An easy way to direct the water to the plants


Mulch can be greatly beneficial too. It insulates the ground, keeping it cool in summer. It retains moisture, cooling air passing over it in summer and adding welcome humidity (welcome on some days in some areas, that is).

Mulch can also stop sunlight and heat from being reflected by bare ground and onto the house. It really is worth mulching well. Before Summer, we gather and spread any mulching materials we can mulch (I like alliteration).

When you mulch, make sure that both the soil beneath the mulch and the mulch itself are at least damp. When many mulches dry out, they go hydrophobic – they will actually repel water. They must have a little moisture in them at all times to help water reach the soil. If the mulch is purely to stop heat reflection and it’s not around plants, you can let it dry but you’ll have trouble getting water through it when the season ends.

Ollas (pots that go into the ground)

Unglazed pots that seep moisture slowly out into the soil

Rain Gardens

Directly catch, slow and absorb the rain

Soakage pits

Larger scale ways to retain water

Wicking Beds

Garden beds with a built in water reservoir

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