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The People with the Grow How

WATER WISE GARDENING

It has been so wonderful to hear the roll of thunder and the sound of rain on the roof again.  While the first falls of spring rains and storms have been quite a shocking experience in Durban and surrounds, South Africa is generally a dry country with unpredictable rainfall and an ever increasing demand for water.  Water-wise gardens can cut down dramatically on water usage and can be just as striking as any other garden, plus – we’ve a very wide range of stunning, drought hardy indigenous plants to choose from.

If you are looking to introduce water-wise habits to your garden, we’ve put together some handy tips to help you:

  1.  LOCAL IS LEKKER –  there is such a wide variety of plants available locally which require minimal to no watering once established.  Local, indigenous plants are accustomed to our climate and survive our often harsh conditions. While you can pop into your nearest garden centre to get advice on locally available water-wise plants, they’re fairly easy to recognise.  They will usually have one or more of the following characteristics:
    –  Needle like leaves which minimise evaporation due to a smaller surface area (ericas, rosemary, acacias, thyme)
    Grey foliage – the light colour reflects the sun’s rays keeping it cooler (lavendar, artemesia, arctosis)
    Hairy leaves – the hairs slow down the movement of air, thus reducing water loss (lamb’s ear, beach salvia, helichrysum)

Succulent leaves  – water is stored in thick, fleshy leaves to be available when necessary (crassulas, aloes, echevarias, vygies)
Waxy leaves –  a waxy coating helps to prevent moisture loss (euonymus, kalanchoe)
– Leaves have lighter undersides – when stressed, they turn the lighter sides of their leaves upwards to reflect the sun away (gazanias and indigenous buddlejas)
Sturdy internal structure –  Water Wise plants have a strong internal skeleton which supports the leaf and prevents wilting during dry spells (strelitiza, argaves)

2. GROUP TOGETHER – Group plants with similar water needs together and water these zones separately.

3. WELL PREPARED SOIL – Prepare the soil well and add compost.  Dig in plenty of compost.  Compost aids the water retention ability of the soil, adding nutrients and encouraging earthworm activity.  This all helps to improve aeration and drainage. Remember to compost your beds at least once a year.

4.  MULCH, MULCH, MULCH – Mulch helps to keep the soil cool and reduces evaporation. It also reduces run-off and erosion, suppresses weed growth, enriches the soil and prevents compacting of the soil.

5. CREATE SHADES & WINDBREAKS – Wind and sun can dry out plants. Plant fast-growing, wind-resistant, water-wise trees and shrubs suited to your area to provide shade and shelter.

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