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Water Conservation

Now is the time to start thinking about making changes to our residential gardens to reduce mains water usage and to make it easier to live with any water restrictions which may be in place.

Water consumption data provided to Council by SA Water shows that, on average, each household in Prospect uses around 250,000 litres of mains water per year. Garden and outdoor usage typically accounts for around 40% of household water consumption, which means that every year an average of 100,000 litres of water is used on an average Prospect residential garden.

Everybody is responsible for the way in which water is used in our gardens and the following suggestions may help to use less whilst still maintaining our gardens as pleasant and productive areas for recreational use and as habitats for birds, butterflies and other fauna.

Minimise the area of lawn in the garden

Irrigated lawn can use around 500 litres of water per square metre per year and also requires significant amounts of energy and time for mowing it. Lawn can be replaced with mulched beds containing water wise plants - preferably local indigenous plants which are well adapted to the local climate and soils and therefore require little or no watering once established. Indigenous plants can also help to attract native fauna and preserve local plant species which have been widely cleared since European settlement. Information on the indigenous flora of Prospect, including a plant species list, can be found here.

Replace high water use plants with drought tolerant species

Consider whether you really want those plants which require a lot of watering and if not replace them with water wise plants - locally indigenous if possible.

Group plants of similar water needs together

Grouping plants of similar water needs together will allow irrigation in each area of the garden to be set to match the needs of the plants in that area.

Remove weeds as soon as they appear

Weeds can grow very quickly and can extract a lot of water from the soil which leaves less for the plants we want. Further information on the common gardens weeds, including a list of species to avoid in the garden can be found here.

Pot plants

Pot plants generally dry out faster than plants in the ground, and so should be mulched and kept in a cool, shady part of the garden. Consider planting plants from their pots into the ground.

Mulch and re-mulch garden beds and bare soil

Mulch helps retain soil moisture as well as prevent erosion and stifle weed growth. Don't mulch too thickly as this will stop rainfall getting through the mulch to the soil.

Improve your soil with compost

Compost will help the topsoil retain moisture as well as provide nutrients for plant growth. Composting food scraps, lawn clippings and garden prunings will also reduce the amount of waste generated from your home. Council currently provides discounted composting and worm farm equipment to residents - for details click here

Replace sprinklers with drip irrigation

Replacing sprinklers with drip irrigation will reduce water loss through drift and evaporation and also deliver the water to where it is needed in the soil and roots rather than the foliage.

Tap TimerPurchase a tap timer for your sprinklers

Tap timers are cheap and simple to operate and can help avoid accidentally leaving the sprinklers on for too long or even overnight. SA Water provides a $10 rebate for the purchase of a tap timer - for more details see the SA Water website.

Install a rainwater tank or tanks

Plants love rainwater and a large tank connected to a large roof area can provide a good source of water for the garden over spring and summer.

Soil additives

Water crystals and soil wetting agents can help the soil to absorb and retain moisture over the drier months.

Consider using greywater to water lawns and garden areas

Greywater is the water which usually runs to the sewer from the shower, washbasin, bath and laundry. Grey water is available year round and can be bucketed from the bathroom or laundry, or a temporary hose can be fitted to the washing machine outlet. In some circumstances greywater can be harmful to human and environmental health and so must be used in accordance with the guidelines produced by the Department of Health.

Permanent Greywater systems require approval from the Eastern Health Authority or the Department of Health. Information about permanent greywater systems can be found on the Department of Health website.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about preparing your garden for summer.

For more information please contact Councils Environment Department on 8269 5355.

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