Updated 06 November 2013

Water-wise garden tips

Many people over-irrigate: it's a garden, not a bog!

Apart from using up scarce fresh water, excessive irrigation can cause shallow root systems to develop and fungal growth on your plants.

Rather give them more water less often, instead of a little every day: this stimulates their roots to grow deeper, making them better able to access soil moisture and endure dry spells.

This summer, remember also to water in the early morning or evening, preferably when it's still; evaporation is highest in the heat of the day and when the wind blows. Water down near the ground surface to further minimise evaporation.

Your local nursery or botanical garden can help advise you about the best water-wise plants for your area.

More water-saving tips:
  • Leaky toilets waste water. A leaking toilet can waste up to 100 000 litres of water a year. Use this trick to find out if yours has a leak.
  • Don't be a drip. A dripping tap can waste 30-60 litres per day or even more, and according to several bylaws it's illegal not to fix obvious leaks.
  • Let it mellow… You may have seen this immortal poem pasted above an environmentally aware toilet, or had it chanted at you by persons of school-going age
  • Reclaim the sponge bath. A shower beats a bath energy-wise and water-wise, but a sponge bath beats both, using only a fraction the hot water.
Got a good green tip to share? Email me at or post on the EnviroHealth Forum if it's a planet-saver, we'll publish it.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor


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