Water Smart Gardens in Singleton

In August 2019, level 1 water restrictions were announced in the lower Hunter Valley.

 With little rain predicted over the summer leading into 2020, level 2 restrictions are likely to be in place on the 20 January 2020.

I know that lawns and gardens are a source of pride in our area and wanted to touch base about what these water regulations mean for you. Detailed information about the water restrictions can be found at Hunter Water. I’ve summarised some of the key points and added advice on how to look after your garden with these water restrictions in mind.

Level 1 restrictions:

  • You can only water your garden with a trigger nozzle at before 10 am and after 4pm.

  • Drip irrigation can only be used before 10am and after 4pm.

  • No hosing of hard surfaces like driveways.

  • Cars can only be washed with a hose that has a trigger nozzle.

  • Pools can only be filled up by a hose that has a trigger nozzle.

What about level 2 restrictions?

  • You will only be able to water your lawn every second day for a maximum of 15 minutes.

  • Showers will be limited to four minutes.

  • Cars will only be able to be washed with buckets.

As Glennies Creek Dam levels continue to fall, we should all try and be mindful of water wastage regardless of what level the restrictions are. Even though gardening might feel like a luxury in a time of bushfires, keeping a green buffer around your house can keep you cooler indoors and provide shelter and food for insects and wildlife.

Here are some tips on how to maintain your plants while sticking to the guidelines.

Garden Maintenance

  • Having a healthy lawn can cut out some of the work for you. Keep grass to a height of 6.5cm as taller grass holds water better and keeps the weeds at bay.

  • If your lawn is too thirsty, consider reducing it and planting low-maintenance perennials in its place, like Agave or Grevillea.

  • Mulch the garden to reduce evaporation and water run-off. Splurge on good quality mulch as it will provide your plants with nutrients and reduce weed growth.

  • Dense plants will provide more shade and reduce water loss from the soil so prune plants after they flower.

  • Train your plants for drought conditions. Instead of watering them daily, occasionally soak the plant with a watering can or bucket and ensure the water reaches the root zone – in most cases your plants will happily adapt.

  • That goes for all pants – direct water at the root zone, not at the foliage.

  • Use seaweed extract to stimulate plants.

When to Water

  • Do not waste your time watering gardens in hot, windy weather.

  • Do not water the garden when it’s too hot – even if it is before 10am or after 4pm.

  • Shrubs and young trees only need watering once a week.

Tips and Tricks

  • Save your bath and shower water and bucket it onto garden plants.

  • Start collecting any rainwater for garden use in tanks or containers.

  • Puncture plastic bottles and cans with small hole and turn them upside down to act as slow-release drip irrigation at the base of shrubs and trees.

  • Wash your car on the lawn. Not only will the water nourish the grass but some car shampoos have similar phosphates to many fertilisers.

  • Ensure there are no dripping taps in your household or outside, and that they’re fitted with water efficient attachments.

Thinking Big

  • Install a rainwater tank for garden use if you don’t have one already.

  • If your land is on a slope or you have natural areas where water runs off, consider digging a makeshift dam to slow the trickle down.

  • Use your grey water not just from showers and baths but also air conditioners and washing machines.

  • Think about sacrificing parts of your garden. If you were going to redo a garden bed in the future, then direct your precious water towards part of the garden that needs it first.

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