Save Water Garden

In the garden

Save Water Garden

Outdoor water use makes up 25-50% of the average home’s water. Watering the garden is one of the most water-hungry activities. 

However, gardens have lots of benefits. They help us feel good, encourage social interaction, increase use of outdoor space, reduce heating and cooling costs in nearby buildings by up to 20%, provide oxygen and absorb significant amounts of carbon. 

Fortunately, there are lots of simple things you can do to save water outdoors and still have a thriving garden!


  • Before watering your garden, push aside the mulch and put your finger into the soil. If it is moist below the surface, then you don’t need to water.

  • It is better to water at dawn than during the heat of the day when evaporation will waste much applied water.

  • Watering at dusk after a hot day may be desirable but moisture resting on foliage overnight encourages fungal diseases.

  • Frequent, light watering encourages shallow roots, so aim for longer, infrequent watering which allows the top layer of soil to start drying out before watering again.

  • Many healthy plants in good soils are drought-tolerant and even in dry weather conditions will not need additional watering once established.

  • With your existing plants, try watering less frequently and then not at all. Less frequent deep watering assists deep-rooted plants to be equipped to withstand hot, dry days.

  • Consider installing a “wicking bed” which is a garden bed with a waterproof lining which holds a reservoir of water at the base. The water can “wick” upwards through the dry soil.

  • Growing vegetables need between 25 and 50mm of water per week for good growth. Water about once a week so the water soaks to a depth of about 150mm. Repeat again when the top few millimetres of soil have started to dry out.

  • Mix water absorbing granules into your potting mix to reduce the risk of plants drying out and allowing longer spells between watering.

  • Put a 25mm deep tuna tin out when you are watering your lawn and stop when the tin is full. Then watch how long it takes for the water to evaporate from the tin. That is when it is time to water again.

  • Avoid watering your garden on windy days when most of the water will blow away or evaporate.

  • You won’t need to water as much if you cut your lawn with the blade on a high setting. Taller grass will shade the roots and help the soil stay moist.

  • Group plants together that have similar water needs.

  • Choose plants that suit the conditions where you live and require minimal water. This plant finder might be helpful.

Composting and mulching 

  • Use compost in your garden beds. It adds nutritious water-holding matter to the soil.

  • Mulch can reduce evaporation from soil by up to 70%.

  • Lots of different products can be used as mulch: pinebark, pebbles, recycled concrete, wood chips, sawdust, eucy, pea straw, cow and horse manure.

Mulching your garden


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