Keeping your garden green during water restrictions

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Water Restrictions got you down? Read this article to find out how to keep your garden green anyway!

Sydney is in the grip of it's harshest water restrictions in over a decade (at the time of writing). This isn't the old level 1 restrictions that many people ignore. No - we're talking level 2 restrictions, and these are pretty extreme.

And considering the amount of press it's getting, it's probably a good idea that you know what you can and can't do.

Why do we have water restrictions?

More than 85 per cent of Greater Sydney’s water is supplied by captured rainfall. Because of the current drought, dam levels have reached the lowest levels seen in a decade — currently just over 45 per cent.

Normally, we'd move to Level 2 Water Restrictions once the water levels hit 40%, but considering the outlook for Summer looks like it's going to be dry with not much in the way of rain, the NSW Government have chosen to bring on the water restrictions early.

What am I not allowed to do during water restrictions

Level two restrictions include:

  • No hosing of gardens: you can use only a watering can or bucket to water your garden before 10am and after 4pm.
  • You can only use drip irrigation or smart watering systems for a maximum of 15 minutes a day per watering zone before 10am and after 4pm.
  • You can only top up an existing pool or spa using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, watering can or bucket for a maximum of 15 minutes a day. You can only do this to replace water lost through evaporation, not to replace water deliberately removed from the pool or spa.
  • You can only wash vehicles with bucket and sponge.
  • You need a permit to fill new or renovated pools and spas that hold more than 500 litres.

How do I keep my garden and lawn green during water restrictions?

So basically, you can't use a hose or a sprinkler - which is how 90% of people (I totally made that stat up) water their gardens!

But there are a few things you CAN do. Here's what we recommend.

1. Look at using a tank

If you can get a tank installed, you can take advantage of the fact that there are no restrictions on tank water.
The predictions are longer periods of dry, with a lot of rain in a short period of time. The tank will help you spread that rainfall out over a longer period of time, and keep your garden green.

2. Use recycled water if you have it!

There are no restrictions on recylced water, so if you have a purple tap (for recycled water) at your house, you are able to use that water for your garden.

3. Set up drip irrigation

Yes, drip irrigation has it's own restrictions (15 minutes a day per watering zone) - but if you're relatively busy it's a lot easier to just turn your system on, let it run for 15 minutes, then turn it off, rather than keep filling and refilling a watering can while walking around the garden.

We're drip irrigation set up experts, so feel free to call if you want some help here!

4. Prepare your soil

Healthy soil makes your garden more water retentive and drought resistant, so mulch your garden! We've written about why mulching your garden is awesome, so if you haven't already - check it out.

5. Be smarter in the garden

There are some really simple things you can do that will help make a difference.

  • Clear weeds immediately as they will compete with your plants for water
  • Don't rake up leaves, as they add some extra shade!
  • Focus on watering your most drought sensitive plants first

6. Get clever with your watering

Even with limited water, there are things you can do to make the most of it.

  • Most obviously, use a watering can!
  • Place plastic drink bottles, with a hole for the water to dribble out of, around your garden to make the water last longer
  • Do the same thing, but with a bucket (if you can afford to put holes in your buckets that is)
  • Use a soil wetting agent - in a pinch you can use a bit of dishwashing liquid in the water
  • Water early in the morning to build a buffer for the heat

Need help?

It can be tough, but we can definitely help get you through this. If you'd like us to help drought proof your garden, get in touch with your Sydney Gardening Experts.

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