Episode 6: Water Works - Outdoor Water Saving

 

The Ghantous family in water starved Melbourne, have already implemented systems to save water inside the house. Costa paid them another visit to help them reduce water consumption outside. The front garden was a mass of compacted soil that created runoff and an environment that made it impossible for anything to grow.  By creating a native garden that requires little maintenance, Costa provided the family with not only more pleasant surroundings, but also further ways to help save our precious resource of water.

Tips

Costa cleared the weeds and then the small amount of grass that was on the lawn - the lawn was levelled and the covered with a layer of wet newspaper to act as a sealer to prevent any further weed growth. (Make sure that the newspaper is about 8 pages thick and overlaps about 10cm). The area was then covered in a layer of mulch.

Irrigation for the plants utilized water from a rainwater tank via a drip feed irrigation system. The system was connected to a tap that was installed in the front yard that runs off the tank and its pump. This low-density system could also be run by gravity alone off the tank without the need to use the pump for pressure.

The garden beds were then prepared with a layer of compost mixed with chicken manure and cow manure.

Plants

Dianella Goddess (Dianella caerulea)
- a multi stemmed native that grows to about 1.2 metres in height. Hardy and drought resistant, goddess is ideal in garden beds as well as pots or containers. The long leaves are also sought after for flower arranging. Once established, the Dianella has low water needs.

Starry Night (Leptospermum Obovatum) - native that grows to about 2 metres in height and width. Hardy and drought resistant variety with soft, fine dark purple foliage that arches quite gracefully. The flowers attract birds and butterflies over spring and summer and it prefers well drained to moist clay and sandy loams in open sun and light shade. Starry Night makes an informal hedge or screen and is best pruned in late summer after flowering. The dark purple foliage makes a nice contrast with other plants as a feature or as a screen along a fence line. Leptospermum such as this or the Lemon Scented Petersonii are water wise and incredibly hardy.

Mary MacKillop (Callistemon viminalis “Mary Mackillop”) - a hybrid bottlebrush that grows to 2.5m high and 1-2m wide. A hardy native adaptable to almost any climate will grow well in garden beds as a stand-alone specimen, as a screen plant or even in a container. Grows well in full sun or light shade it thrives in sandy or clay loam soils with large red bird attracting brushes in spring and summer. Prune spent flowers regularly over summer to maintain and promote flowering into autumn.

Weeds

Cotoneaster glycophylla - Cotoneaster is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 4m high. Has white flowers, which become red berries/fruit that are dispersed by birds and washed along watercourses and drains.

Ochna serrulata - Ochna serrulata or Mickey Mouse plant is an invasive shrub that grows 3-3m tall, has dark green finely serrated leaves and produces many flowers over summer that gradually turn red with a bird attracting black berry in the centre. It came to the suburban garden as a hedge plant and its berries are easily spread by birds It has an invasive tap root that is usually double the height of the plant, so if trying to remove this weed, ensure that you dig a deep hole to remove this root and not just snap it off below the surface as it will re-sprout continuously.

More Information

You may be eligible for rebates if you install a rainwater tank – check with your local water authority to see if you qualify. Installation should be carried out by a licensed plumber & electrician.

Other Useful links:
Enviro Plumber NSW
http://www.enviroplumber.com.au/

Action Water Tanks supplied the water tank
http://www.actiontanks.com.au/

Irrigation supplied by Netafim was an Irri-gray kit used for grey water and tank water irrigation systems.
http://www.netafim.com.au/

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