Struggling to work out how best to water your garden through hot summer weather, drought and water restrictions? Worried you might have to let your garden go? Fear not! With a little effort, you can make your garden a survivor. We've put together our favourite water-wise tips to help you save water (and therefore money!) and keep your garden happy. Even better, every one of our tips is totally compliant with the Level 1 Sydney water restrictions which are in force from March 1, 2020, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that you are doing your bit while doing the best thing by your garden, too.
Pick your time wisely
The best time to water your garden is early in the morning, before 7am. Giving a nice, deep water at this time of morning allows water the chance to soak into the soil before the heat of the day sets in, preventing evaporation and also ensuring that water is available to the plant's roots through the day. Handily, this fits in perfectly with the Level 1 Sydney water restrictions, which will allow you to use a hand-held hose with trigger nozzle to water your garden before 10am and after 4pm from March 1, 2020, alongside other methods of watering - see this article for more info on how you can water.
Water where it matters
Your plant will get the most benefit if you concentrate water directly around the base of its stem - or, for trees, around the dripline (imagine a circle on the ground the same circumference as the tree's canopy - this is the dripline). This is the best way to ensure water reaches the root zone, which is where it is needed. While it might be tempting to water the foliage of a stressed-looking plant, hold back - water on foliage is likely to evaporate, and can actually contribute to the spread of plant diseases such as black spot and frangipani rust.
A downpour, not a sprinkle!
For the vast majority of plants, the best way to water them is to provide a deep, generous water occasionally, so that the water soaks right through the soil, rather than a daily sprinkle that only really wets the surface layers of soil. By doing this, you will train your plants to thrive on less-frequent watering. This will also encourage your plant's roots to grow downward rather than staying close to the surface, a move which will actually help them to better survive periods of drought.
Increase soil wettability
In extended periods of dry weather, soils can dry out to the point where they become hydrophobic - meaning they become difficult to wet and actively repel water. When this happens, the water that you lovingly apply to your plants will run off before it gets anywhere near the root zone. A soil wetting agent, like Saturaid or Wettasoil, will work immediately to help water soak through to your plants' root zone, reducing water use by up to 50%!
Keep water in your soil
Once your soil is nice and moist, the key is keeping that moisture available in your plants' root zone. Amgrow Water Crystals expand to hundreds of times their size when in contact with water, forming a water-holding gel that will help your plants withstand dry periods. Expand a teaspoon of crystals in water and pop them in the base of new plantings - both potted and in garden beds - to help them thrive!
The perfect plant health tonic
Give your plants a boost with a seaweed solution, like Amgrow Seaweed Solution or Seasol. These formulations are great for overall plant health - which is particularly important in stressful conditions like the current drought - but as an added bonus, they will help your plants to retain water and remain hydrated for longer!
Try hose-on products
Hose-on fertilisers, pesticides and soil wetting agents are really convenient to apply - and you can still use them in compliance with Level 2 Sydney water restrictions! The handpiece just needs an on/off water flow control switch. If your handpiece doesn't have a switch, a simple connector with a flow control valve can make it compliant. Products like Harvest, Wettasoil, Bin-Die, Buffalo Pro Weed'n'Feed, Professor Mac 3 in 1, Saturaid, Seasol Advanced and Seasol for Lush Green Lawns all come in hose-on options, meaning you can feed your garden, provide a health tonic, improve soil wettability or eliminate pests and weeds and provide water at the same time. Bonus - certain hose-ons serve more than one purpose. For example, Wettasoil also contains seaweed extract, so it acts as a health tonic, too!
Transpiration is the process of evaporation through your plant's leaves. Halt this kind of water loss by up to 50% with Yates WaterWise DroughtShield, a handy ready-to-use spray which coats your plant's leaves in a protective polymer film that grows with the plant. It's also great for protecting against heat stress, drying winds, transplant shock and sunburn, and increasing the survival rate of plants through dry periods. For best results, reapply every 90 days. This product also comes in a larger 2.5L container with included trigger sprayer .
Lay down some mulch
Mulchhing is an essential step for any garden - not only does it finish everything off visually, it's also vital for keeping your soil moist and cool throughout the warmer months. Bonus - if you use an organic mulch, as it breaks down it will add beneficial nutrients to your soil! Mulch comes in many forms, from gravel and pebbles to sugar cane, tea tree and bark in varying grades, so your best bet is to chat to one of our friendly experts in-store to find the best match for your garden.
Check before you water
Not sure whether your plants really need a drink just yet? Investing in a Soil Moisture Meter will help cut out all the guesswork. It's super simple - just twist it into the soil, ensuring the tip reaches your plant's root zone, and within a minute you'll have an accurate soil moisture reading! If your soil's in the red, chances are your plants need some water unless you are dealing with super drought-tolerant plants, like cacti and Sansevierias.
Install drip irrigation
If you don't have the time to physically water your garden with a watering can or bucket each day, a drip irrigation system could be the ideal solution for your garden. A drip irrigation system is engineered to deliver water directly to the root zone of your plants, cutting down on wastage. Under Level 2 Sydney water restrictions, you may use a drip irrigation system for 15 minutes per watering zone per day, provided that you do so before 10am or after 4pm. You can find everything you need to DIY in-store, or even better - we can install a system for you! Contact Flower Power Garden Care for more information.
Install a rainwater tank
As rainwater isn't subject to restrictions, it's ideal for watering your garden and flushing toilets - meaning you can save drinking water. Plus, collecting rainwater is simple once you've got a tank installed. At Flower Power, our licensed professional installers can provide a BPA-free, UV-resistant tank to suit every home. Click here for more information.
Collect grey water
Sometimes it pays to think outside the box. Water that you've used inside your home that may no longer be fit for consumption can often be recycled on your garden, meaning less wastage. Try popping a bucket in your shower to catch that first burst of cold water before it heats up, and use that on your garden. You could also pop a large bowl in your kitchen sink to catch water when you rinse off veggies - that water is still perfectly fine to use on plants! You can even use washing machine waste water on your garden, with a few provisos. Choose your washing detergent wisely, ensuring that any detergent you choose is labelled as safe for septic systems and grey water use - Earth Choice is an option that carries this recommendation on the label. We recommend that you not use grey water on edibles, as the detergents used may be harmful if consumed. We also recommend that if you have phosphorous-sensitive plants in your garden, such as Australian natives, you use grey water on these plants less often, and alternate with clean, fresh water to avoid chemical buildup.