Waterwise gardens use a mix of strategies to suit local environmental conditions. This means there is less dependency on supplementary watering.
At ErinEarth the gardens were developed to minimise water usage because Wagga Wagga is located in a hot dry climate.
A water-wise garden can be established through careful planning, selection of plants and using methods that conserve water (moisture).
Capture rain that falls on your place for later use.
At ErinEarth we have tanks to collect water from most of the house roof.
Other roof water is diverted to soak into the ground to provide extra for the garden at the front of the house.
Stormwater from the adjoining Kildare College and Mt Erin Chapel area runs through ErinEarth. We turn what could be a problem into a benefit by collecting the stormwater in our dam. Our windmill then pumps it back to a holding tank at the top of the garden. From here it tops up the wetland.
The best plants for a garden are those that suit the local climate which has hot, often dry summers and cold winters with several frosts. We have found that plants from drier climates are better able to tolerate periods of little or no rain.
Many Australian inland native plants are well suited for the ErinEarth garden, but it is okay to have plants that are not Australian natives (exotics), especially if they can tolerate dry conditions.
The crepe myrtles in the ErinEarth garden are an example of exotics that can tolerate dry conditions. At ErinEarth plants have supplementary watering when planted and while establishing, but afterwards they have to rely only on rainfall.
Lawn areas are kept small at ErinEarth but are invaluable as places for children and adults to sit and play. Lawn planted around a house will keep the house zone cooler compared to hard surfaces. Lawns do require some supplementary watering, but using new varieties of lawn, like hardy buffalo, watering is kept at a minimum and the grass will survive dry periods.
If you have old favorites that require a bit more water, then create a zone in your garden for these plants.
This means that only a small part of the garden needs more water. There are examples of these areas at ErinEarth.
Containers and pots also make useful zoning methods, but make sure that the pots are protected from direct sun, otherwise the soil may become too hot and the plant roots will cook.
The main moisture saver in the ErinEarth garden is the heavy use of plant based (organic) mulches.
Non-organic mulches of stones or pebbles are also effective.
All mulches are used to protect the soil by keeping the soil cooler and more moist throughout the year, especially in summer.
Organic (plant-based) mulches add an extra benefit by providing extra soil nutrients as they decompose.
Plant based mulches include lawn clippings, chopped up plant prunings and leaves. All garden prunings and clippings at ErinEarth are recycled and used as mulches or extra organic material to improve the soil.
Irrigation systems can be used for supplementary watering of gardens. At ErinEarth the water efficient drip irrigation is used in the vegetable garden and the orchard.