Protect the environment: make your garden greener

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.

Drip Irrigation. Picture by photofarmer on Flickr.

Drip Irrigation. Picture by photofarmer on Flickr.

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.

Aquatrap.

Aquatrap.

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!

Author Bio
Environmentally-minded copywriter Catherine Sackville-Scott produced this piece for Sustainable.co.za, South Africa’s oldest online eco-store, founded in 2002.

7 Responses to Protect the environment: make your garden greener

  1. Patrick February 26, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    This is interesting stuff. I think water, particularly in South Africa, is going to become scarce in years to come and initiatives like this will pay dividends.

    Has anyone tried these aquatraps?

  2. mol-d February 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    what about putting a load of rubber / tyres into your soil? is there anything wrong with that?

  3. shaggy February 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Interesting, although I am not so sold on just putting lots of rubber into your soil. Also curious what the grey layer is that is beneath the traps in the aquatrap photo?
    I would suggest that if you have very sandy soil, rather ammeliorate the poor water holding capacity with addition of organic matter (compost). In the longer term you are adding to the soil structure, and improving nutrient holding capacity as well as water holding capacity.
    In addition: Micro or drip irrigation is a very good idea to save water.

    Nice post!

  4. Catherine S March 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks for your comments. Aquatraps work very well and have been deployed in a number of development upliftment programs. A lot of these are located in areas with sandy soil so community garden projects really benefit.

    Domestically they are also very popular and can be used in addition to organic compost to make soil healthier and more eco-friendly. It’s also a great way of recycling old rubber and tires, which otherwise end up dumped on the side of the road or on landfills.

  5. Jacki March 16, 2010 at 3:56 am #

    Those aquatraps are great! Whoever came up with that idea was one smart cookie. I’ll have to see if anyone in Canada has come up with a similar idea.

  6. Evans October 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Is it possible to have the addresses or email where to buy these irrigation pipes. Please help me out.

  7. mol-d October 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    hi evans, i think you can get them from:

    http://www.sustainable.co.za

    try contacting them via their site.

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