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Be Water-Wise And Save: Plant An Indigenous Garden

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Be Water-Wise And Save: Plant An Indigenous Garden

We all know what to do in the home to reduce water usage, but did you know that you can also limit the amount of water you use in your garden without compromising on the aesthetic? 

Plants with needle-like leaves minimise the surface area for water to evaporate. Examples of such plants include ericas, most acacias, rosemary, origanum and thyme.

The rule of thumb is to plant indigenous plants in your garden, as they are accustomed to our climate and can survive the often harsh conditions. 

Here are some water-wise gardening tips:

1. Familiarise yourself with indigenous plants 

Water-wise gardens focus on plants that thrive on little water and certain characteristics that make them water efficient. 

By familiarising yourself with these characteristics, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision regarding what you should and shouldn’t plant. Look for… 

Plants with small or needle-like leaves 

These minimise the surface area for water to evaporate. Examples of such plants include ericas, most acacias, rosemary, origanum and thyme. 

Plants with few leaves 

Some plants reduce water loss by shedding their leaves during drought. Examples of these include the karee tree, acacias and buffalo thorn. 

Plants with grey foliage 

These kinds of plants deflect the sun’s rays, which keeps them cooler thereby reducing water loss. If you want to create a sustainable garden using plants with grey foliage invest in lavender, artemesia, arctotis and giant honey flower. 

Plants with hairs 

Hairs slow down air movement past the stomata, which reduces water loss. A few hairy plant options to grow in your garden include the silver tree, lamb’s ear, beach salvia and helichrysum. 

Plants with succulent leaves 

Homeowners should opt for succulents because water gets stored in the thick, fleshy leaves, reserved for later use. Examples of these include crassulas, aloes, echeverias and vygies. 

Plants with leaves that close 

The leaves of some plants close when they are water stressed. This reduces the amount of leaf exposed to sunlight and reduces water loss. To save water, add acacias, Jerusalem sage and rock rose to your garden. 

Plants with waxy leaves 

Waxy leaves prevent moisture loss so if you want to save on gardening costs invest in euonymus, kalanchoe and Indian hawthorn.

Plants with lighter leaves 

When water stressed, plants with lighter leaves on one side turn the lighter side upwards to reflect the sun away. If you’re looking for such water savvy plants, why not try wild olive trees, gazanias and indigenous buddlejas. 

Plants with strong internal skeleton support 

Plants with a strong internal skeleton support the leaf and prevent wilting during dry spells. Examples of these include strelitzia, restios, agaves and New Zealand flax. 

Plants with volatile oils 

Volatile oils in the stomata form an extra layer of protection against water loss. This is common with Mediterranean plants, and in areas that experience hot, dry summers. Examples of these include rosemary, lavender and sage. 

2. Practise sustainable gardening 

When it comes to sustainable gardening, group plants with similar water needs together and water these zones separately. 

A layer of mulch over the bed will keep soil moist for longer, and adding compost will increase organic matter which improves the soil’s nutrient level and water-holding capacity. 

In planting indigenous plants, you have the added benefit of abundant wildlife that will visit your garden. Birds, butterflies and dragonflies are all attracted to South Africa’s water-wise plants, and will create added visual interest to your outside space. 

3. Water-wise lawns 

You can thank the British settlers who brought their ideas of lawns to our shores, but large areas of lawn are not climate appropriate for South Africa, and the trend is now to move away from its excessive use. 

If you’re still holding onto your lawn, however, cut the grass at a higher level than usual to encourage deep roots and drought tolerance. 

Different grasses need to be cut at different heights. Set your mower to cut Kikuyu grass from 4cm to 6cm, fine grasses like cynodons from 3cm to 4cm and cool season evergreen grasses from 5cm to 7cm. 

Never remove more than one third of the leaf blade. Remember that grass is weakened if it grows too long between mows, so only cut the grass when it is about one-third taller than the recommended height. By doing this, less leaf growth is removed, and the lawn is less stressed, thus needing less water. 

Source: Property24

 

Author Property24
Published 14 Dec 2016 / Views -
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