With the severe drought in Cape Town, we are all feeling the immediate pressure to conserve as much water as possible both in our homes and places of work. This not only affects the running of our homes and daily routines but also our gardens which we all try to keep as lush as possible under the circumstances. We are needing to educate ourselves on the water efficacy of plants whilst keeping them aesthetically pleasing. This new knowledge will empower all of us to make wise choices when it comes to our landscaping and help in reducing our water consumption. This may be a daunting task to many of you, so Trait Décor decided to investigate some great tips to make your garden more water efficient.
The biggest question is how do we identify a water efficient plant? We need to take careful consideration when selecting our plants. As each type of plant has adapted to specific climatic conditions therefore as a rule of thumb, opting for indigenous plants is usually best, as they are specifically suited to our dry South African conditions. This will allow the plant to be a bit hardier to prolonged droughts. But this is not our only option, we need to look for plants that have the following characteristics which make them more water efficient:
To prevent water loss look for leaves and stems that are hairy, have a waxy coating or that the leaves close when under stress which creates a smaller surface area preventing excess evaporation.
Grey foliage helps to reflect the sun’s rays away from the plant and in doing so keeps the plant cool reducing water loss. This also refers to plants with a lighter colour on the underside of the leaf.
Plants that minimise their surface area by either having small leaves or by being able to shed their leaves during drought periods reduces their water loss considerably.
Succulent plants are great water wise plants as they are able to store water in their fleshy leaves which they are able to use when necessary. And as a bonus they are becoming more popular as of late
Lastly, look for plants with sturdy internal structures which prevents wilting in harsh temperatures.
There are additional ways of creating a water wise garden and this extends beyond just your plant selection. There are many items on the market for water harvesting that are specifically targeted to domestic homes. This will ensure that you make the most out of our winter rainfalls by collecting and storing water for the drier summer months. By reducing the surface area of your lawn you will drastically reduce your water requirements and your maintenance of the garden as a whole. In your lawns section that will be replaced you can look at various ground covers. These are great in reducing water evaporation in the soil and they stop soil erosion whilst enriching the soil. Even consider larger pavers as a feature in a garden to reduce grass cover as well as being easy to replace once the rains return our dams to useable levels.
These are only but a few ways in creating a water conscious garden. Our gardens hugely influence our connection to the outside world. They are also imperative to natural diversity, cleaning the air and simply connecting us to nature. It is therefore important that we treasure them and be wise in our foliage selection and where and how we plant them in order to create a space that we love and are able to let ourselves get away from the pressures of daily life. And as you can see, it is easy to create a water efficient space.