We are expecting a long, hot, dry summer and with the increasing pressure on our water resources it’s important for gardeners to reduce water use. But how to do this whilst also ensuring that our gardens have enough moisture for growth and to thrive in the heat? Follow these key tips and you will be making the most of every drop.
IMPROVE YOUR SOIL to increase the water holding capacity.
Getting your soil right is the key to healthy plant growth and the basis of a waterwise garden. You can improve your soil by adding organic matter from compost and composted manure products and amending the soil with clays. Compost improves soil structure, water retention and nutrient efficiency. Improve soil when preparing garden beds, lawns and when planting into established beds. Follow the instructions on the bag.
KEEP THE MOISTURE IN WITH MULCH to protect the precious topsoil.
Exposing topsoil to the sun causes significant moisture loss through evaporation. This thin layer of soil with its vital microbiology must be protected, maintained and nourished. A waterwise layer of coarse chunky mulch achieves this and helps to regulate soil temperature. Mulch will get your garden through the stressful summer months, reduce weeds and evaporation, and look great.
USE A QUALITY WETTING AGENT to combat water-repellent soil.
Hydrophobic soils are common in our sandy soils where water doesn’t penetrate the soil after rainfall or irrigation, causing run-off. Garden beds, pots and hanging baskets are all affected. Lawns develop dry or dead patches, particularly in warmer months as a result. Use a good quality wetting agent to break through the waxy hydrophobic layer to assist water penetration, movement through the soil, and re-wetting.
CHOOSE WA NATIVE PLANTS SPECIES to reduce your water use.
This region’s wildflowers, shrubs and trees are suited to surviving and thriving in our soils and climate conditions. These species have adapted their physiology and habit to this particular environment over millenia. Native plant species are very beautiful and have a range of other benefits, including supporting biodiversity within our area by providing shelter and food for wildlife and acting as corridors for movement between bushland areas.
LEAVE OFF THE FERTILISER in summer.
Wait until the winter rains have finished before you use any fertiliser and don’t overfeed as this produces plants with weak, leggy growth that will wilt in the heat and need mor water. If your plants are suffering in the heat, avoid the temptation to fertilise. This is like feeding a person with fever, they just don’t want any food. After putting on new growth in spring, plants don’t grow much in summer, they just shut down to wait for the cooler weather when they recover and begin to put out new growth.
This project is supported by South West NRM and state government-funded Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west waterways.