The warmer months are the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, but did you know that 20 per cent of the Lower Hunter's drinking water is used watering our gardens and lawns?
Water restrictions are now in place across the Lower Hunter, but there are still plenty of easy ways you can maintain a healthy, beautiful garden, while saving water at the same time.
Under Level 1 water restrictions, outdoor watering is permitted before 10am or after 4pm. Watering during these times will ensure your garden retains moisture by avoiding the hottest part of the day when evaporation is high. Using a trigger nozzle on your hose is also a requirement, and is a great way to make sure you're only using the water you need.
When it comes to plants, many healthy plants in good soils are drought-tolerant and even in dry weather conditions will not need additional watering once established. Here's a test: before watering your garden, push aside the mulch and put your finger into the soil. If it's moist below the surface, then you don't need to water. With your existing plants, try watering less frequently and then not at all. Observe them for signs of stress, including wilting and leaf-fall. You may be surprised how tough many of your plants are. Less frequent deep watering assists deep-rooted plants to be equipped to withstand hot, dry days.
If you're looking for new plants, we recommend investing in native plants that are better suited to the Australian climate. Garden design can make a difference to how much water you use. By introducing more drought tolerant plants and using mulch on your garden beds, not only will you reduce the amount of water used, but your garden will be better equipped to handle the dry weather.
Using mulch can save 10,000 litres of water a year. Mulch acts as a blanket, protecting your soil from evaporation. Soil additives can also help improve water retention in your garden. Soil wetting agents and water retention products can dramatically improve the success of new plantings and water absorption in your garden.
Another easy way to save our precious drinking water is to ensure your rainwater tank is being used efficiently. Using rainwater in the garden saves an average household 35,000 litres of drinking water per year. If you have a tank, it's recommended you make sure it is properly connected to the roof, check that the water level has gone up after rain and ensure your pump is working. These simple measures can help make sure your rainwater tank is working efficiently and effectively year-round.
For more useful tips on saving water in the garden, including finding water efficient plants to suit your garden's needs, visit: www.hunterwater.com.au/savewater.