7 Eco-friendly ways to create a water-wise garden

Drought and the water restrictions have had major implications for landscapers and passionate gardeners. So we thought you might like to know how Life Landscapes, a division of Life Green Group, is sailing through the dry spell.

Firstly, the water problems are here to stay so it’s time to adapt by re-examining the way we garden and what planting palettes we use. South Africa is regarded as a water scares country and sadly our water supplies are poorly managed. Urbanization; water bodies turning anaerobic from invasive water species and agricultural runoff and climate change are all a concern for South Africa's water resources.

Here are seven ways you can use water more efficiently in the garden.

Urbanscape Green Solutions

Life Green Group is really excited about this natural product from Urbanscape Green Solutions. This product is made from volcanic rock that has been spun down into an absorbent material that improves airflow, root growth and water absorption; therefore reducing watering rates by 50%. 

water-wise solutions for gardens

© Urbanscapes Green Solutions

  • Urbanscape Green Cubes (for domestic or interior plantscaping use) - add to the potting soil of pot plants or add into a hole before planting a tree.
  • Urbanscape Green Flocks (landscaping installations) – use in bulk for flowerbeds and extensive tree planting. Life Landscapes has been utilizing this in Cape Town with great success.
  • Urbanscape Green Blanket (landscaping and sports field installations) – is designed specifically for lawns. It increases root growth and reduce water consumption. There is also green roof option available.

For more on Urbanscape Green Solutions, click here.

Grey water recycling for irrigation 

This not only saves gardens but saves money. Grey water is used water from the sinks and bathrooms that can be recycled to flush toilets and water the garden. It is a relatively simple conversion to do. Grey water users do have to switch to biodegradable natural products (soaps and dishwashing liquid) to protect the integrity of the soil. 

Life Water IQ explains that your sewage bill is based on your incoming water consumption not your outgoing water so you are using water twice before sending it back into the municipal system; therefore using less and spending less.

Life Water IQ grey water recycling

Rainwater harvesting using sports fields

Is your tennis court or astroturf working for you while you’re not playing? According to Life Water IQ rainwater harvesting is effective when you have two variables, a large surface area located in a high rainfall area. Rainwater harvesting allows you store water captured from roofs, gutters and sport facilities for times when you need it, like for the garden.


Drip Irrigation

Water is wasted through inefficient irrigation systems. Drip irrigation is the most effective as it delivers the smallest amounts of water directly onto the root system so water is not lost through runoff or evaporation. If you have a succulent garden or a veld garden there is actually very little need for irrigation.  This brings us to our next point…

Save water by planting a xeriscape succulent garden

Xeriscaping is a landscaping style and method that was developed in arid areas that uses a lot of stone and a succulent planting palette. A xeriscape is very low maintenance garden and will actually die from over watering.

There is a difference between water-wise (drought-tolerant) flora and desert-adapted (Xerophytic) plants. Xerophytic plants cannot handle too much watering, while water-wise plant can survive long period without water but thrive where there is lots of water. Typically, your water-wise plants are indigenous or endemic flowers as they adapted to the climatic conditions in South Africa. If you don’t want completely commit to xeriscaping then focus on indigenous flora as they still use less water than exotic plants.

xeriscape succulent garden

© Pamla J. Eisenberg

Much more mulch

It takes some time to wrap your head around this one but leave the leaves in the flowerbed! Gardeners mindsets need to change, instead of forking the beds to add definition rather use natural mulches (wood chips and leaves) to add texture, definition and hold water. And for goodness sake still pay attention to your edging else the mulch will look messy.  Fellow division, Life & Earth, explains that mulch hold water retention in the soil and helps develop the soil quality; whereas, tilling is  bad for root development and soil biodiversity.

6 Eco-friendly ways to create a water-wise garden

Clear invasive plants for  a water-wise garden

What’s the slogan? Don’t waste water on invasives! Invasive plants compete with local flora and consume excessive amounts of water without offering any ecological services to the local environment.  So why have them? South Africa has a diverse array of indigenous plants to choose from and it home to one of the six Floral Kingdoms of the world. South Africans have inherited exotic plants from colonial history and our optimal climate has allowed them to thrive, which I bad news for our water supplies. 

6 Eco-friendly ways to create a water-wise garden

Call your local tree feller to get rid of the ‘dead wood’ and educate yourself on the trees you should be planting by reading: Do you Speak Tree?