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Waterwise gardening tips

Published on November 3rd 2018
A close up of a flower
With summer short on our heels, it’s time to take our waterwise strategies off the shelf and into the garden!
After the recent water crisis, we have grown even more aware of the need to reduce water consumption in our gardens and to implement innovative ideas to save water in the short and long term.
Here are a few tips and tricks to up your waterwise game:
Go local
Gardening in harmony with the environment is one of the keys to long-term waterwise solutions. Select locally indigenous plants for your garden as they are adapted to the local conditions and climate. This ensures plant survival without having to give any additional water. With such a diverse flora to choose from, you’ll have a drought-tolerant, water-saving, head-turning, flower-flushing garden in time for summer!
Trade your lawn for drought-tolerant ground-covers
Lawns require a lot of TLC, including water and fertiliser. On the other hand, succulent ground-covers require less attention. Plants like Othonna capensis, Gazania ringens and Plectranthus neochilus are ideal examples. For shady areas in your garden, plant Clivia miniata, hen-and-chicken (Chlorophytum comosum), the fairy crassula (Crassula multicava), Plectranthus verticillatus, or the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus).
Mulch Mulch Mulch
Mulching has a whole bucketfull of benefits, including soil protection, discouragement of weed germination, creating a thriving environment for microbacteria, and trapping valuable moisture in the soil.
Keep it organic
Use organic compost or slow-release fertilisers instead of inorganic fertilisers that accelerate plant growth, and therefore, increase water requirements. Going organic is beneficial to plants, the environment, and your water-wallet.
Succulent solutions
Succulents are adapted to dry environments and have mastered survival in water-scarce conditions. There is a great variety in shape, size and colours to choose from for your garden-needs, such as the infamous spekboom (Portulacaria afra), colourful mesembs like the bokbaai vygie (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis), gouevygie (Lampranthus aureus), Cape sour fig (Carbobrotus edulis), and the red ice-plant (Drosanthemum speciosum). Don’t forget the prickly euphorbias, majestic aloes, and remarkable crassulas!
Grey is the new green
Some plants have grey or silver hairy leaves as an adaptation to drought. These grey hairs reflect sunlight and heat away from the plant, thereby reducing water loss. Adding golden everlasting (Helichrysum aureonitens), cape gold (H. splendidum), everlasting (Syncarpha vestita), silver tree (Leucodendron argenteum), weeping sage (Buddleja auriculata) and silver leaf Gazania (Gazania tomentosa) to your list adds beautiful colour and texture to your waterwise garden.
Plant bulbs and tubers
Plant water-storing bulbs and tubers including Asparagus densiflorus and the Port Saint John’s creeper (Podranea ricasoliana).
Hesitate with the hose
Water trees with recycled household water, including bathwater and washing machine. Be aware of some plants that might be more sensitive to pollution. Water your garden in the late afternoon or at night so as to allow plants to take full advantage of taking up water when the transpiration rate is low. Drip irrigation is also a great way to conserve water!
Spread the word
Don’t forget to share your waterwise-wisdom with neighbours, fellow gardeners and young learners!


Gazania rigens

Smelly Spur Flower

Coleus neochilus

Bush Lily

Clivia miniata


Chlorophytum comosum

Fairy Crassula

Crassula multicava

Gossip Spurflower

Plectranthus verticillatus

Asparagus Meyers

Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyersii'

A Portulacaria afra plant in a pot in front of a brick building


Portulacaria afra

Dorotheanthus bellidiformis

Buck Bay Vygie

Dorotheanthus bellidiformis

Sour Fig

Carpobrotus edulis

Yellow Everlasting

Helichrysum cymosum ssp. cymosum

Silver Bush Everlasting

Helichrysum petiolare

A close up of a flower

White Everlasting

Syncarpha argyropsis

Silver Tree

Leucadendron argenteum

Weeping Sage

Buddleja auriculata

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