Sustainable gardening is largely about choosing to grow indigenous water-wise species and using natural fertilizers. But it is also important to consider how you water your garden as some methods are more efficient than others.
This has never been more essential than it is now as parts of our country are still struggling to recover from drought and water shortage. You can reduce your water usage by 75 percent or more, depending on the type of irrigation you use.
Sprinkler systems are used most commonly in South African gardens. While these are easy to install and operate they result in substantial loss of water as they irrigate onto the surface of a garden, resulting in evaporation.
Drip irrigation is 90 percent more efficient than traditional sprinkler systems. Also called micro or trickle irrigation, drip irrigation facilitates the slow and direct application of water directly to the roots of plants, through flexible plastic pipes. The pipes, which can be placed above or below the soil, are perforated at intervals and are perfect for watering vegetables, flower beds or any other plants in a row formation.
The system is usually less expensive to install than other types of irrigation and allows for even and focused distribution of water, drastically decreasing evaporation and runoff.
Aquatraps disc liners are another effective way of saving water when taking care of your garden. These are circular rubber discs made from recycled car tires and tubes, which are installed 250 to 300 millimeters beneath your soil. This creates a false water table, preventing water as well as nutrients and compost from draining away.
Aquatraps work particularly well in sandy soil which struggles to retain anything because it is so soft. Installing an aquatrap improves the growth rate of plants or vegetables, and also means that they require up to 50 percent less water.
A sizable flower bed would require around 6 aquatrap rubber disc liners, but they are highly affordable at only R18 each.
These and other water saving products for your garden are available online. Make your garden even greener and save money for yourself, and water and energy for the planet!
Environmentally-minded copywriter Catherine Sackville-Scott produced this piece for Sustainable.co.za, South Africa’s oldest online eco-store, founded in 2002.