Tips to help gardeners save water

STAFF REPORTER

With much of the country suffering the effects of drought, the City of Cape Town implemented Level 2 water restrictions at the beginning of the year.

As a result, residents of Cape Town who use potable water in their gardens are only allowed to water them three times a week – for one hour before 9am or after 4pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays- with those who use borehole water encouraged to do the same. But the implementation of water restrictions doesn’t have to mean a dry and dreary garden.

This is the second article in a five-week series which looks at ways to keep your garden green even when there are water restrictions.

“As water is a precious resource, it is vitally important to have a flexible watering schedule that adjusts to changing weather conditions.

“Installing a fully automated watering system is the answer; it will help save water as well as money. The advantage is that it is fully controllable and flexible so can be changed at any stage to suit the weather conditions and watering restrictions,” says Nick Stodel of Stodels Nurseries.

Water at the right time

* Choosing to water at the correct time of the day will ensure that you reduce evaporation. The most suitable time to water is either early in the morning (before 9am) or evening (after 6pm). The advantage of watering early in the morning is that you minimise the chance of mildew infections related to a drop in temperature and damp conditions. Your automated irrigation system can then be set to go off before dawn when evaporation rates are at their lowest.

* Water less often in cooler weather and water slightly more frequently but for longer periods in the hot weather, taking the current watering restrictions into account.

* Don’t water on windy days as this is when the evaporation rates are at the highest.

* If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn it off after it has rained for a couple of days – but don’t forget about the plants that are under shelter or the overhang of a roof.

Water deeply but frequently

When the soil has been watered for longer periods of time, the roots grow in a downward motion towards the moisture deeper in the soil. This enables the plants to grow better and survive for longer periods without water.

Allow water to reach the depth of 20cm for finer root system plants such as lawns, vegetables and herbs and about 60cm to 90cm for plants with a more robust root system such as trees and shrubs.

Water wise tips

Run-off water is considered wasted water, so avoid applying water faster than the plant can absorb it. Better absorption can be created by:

* Making basins around trees and shrubs.

* On sloping ground make terraces or pockets to hold water.

* Water clay soils lightly as the soil is more compact and absorbs at a slower rate.

* Clay soils retain more water, so less frequent watering is essential.

* Sandy soil absorbs water quickly, so water at a faster rate.

* Sweep paved pathways rather than using water to spray the dirt away.

* When you wash your car, use a bucket of water instead of a hosepipe.

“Remember your garden does not have to die of thirst during the dry season. With some careful planning and conservation you can maintain it until the rains begin,” says Mr Stodel.

* Information provided by Stodels.

For more water wise and water saving tips you can visit www.stodels.com or www.waterrestrictions. co.za

Give-away

What are you doing to save water or keep your garden healthy during the water restrictions? We’d like to hear from you -and have two R500 Stodels vouchers that we’ll be giving to the reader who submits the best tips. If you like, you can also send us a picture of your garden. To enter, send your full name and surname, your address and your water saving tips – with Water Wise in the subject line – to roshiela.moonsamy@inl.co.za

Entries close at 10pm on Sunday February 28.