With the focus on KwaZulu-Natal’s devastating drought and with water restrictions already affecting areas like Ballito and the rest of the north coast, we need to start thinking seriously about how to make our gardens more water wise and drought resistant.
Here are some water-wise gardening tips from Farmyard Organics’ very own horticulturist, Charlie Fripp:
- When preparing your garden beds, it is important to cultivate the soil deeply and to dig in large quantities of organic matter to improve soil structure, soil water retention and water availability for plants. Farmyard Organics’ Compost is made from good quality raw materials – the ideal medium to bulk up your garden’s water retention capabilities.
- When planting, choose plants with grey-green or silver leaves as they reflect the sun’s rays, helping to conserve moisture within the plant tissues. Plants with a hairy leaf texture are better suited to a drought as the hair helps to reduce the amount of heat on the leaf.
- Ground covers like Lamium,with its silver-marked foliage and thyme with its tiny, fragrant leaves and flowers do well in low-water situations.
- Succulents or any plants with thorns, horns or spines, can thrive in a drought. An interesting gardening tip is to use gravel and especially white stones around your succulents to help keep the soil cooler. Lighter coloured stones reflect more heat and therefore keep the soil cool and less likely to evaporate moisture.
- Try to choose indigenous plants which suit your garden’s soil type and aspect. They will be more tolerant of varying climatic conditions as well as of pest and disease problems.
- You garden beds will do better if you plant in groupings instead of isolating plants to the elements. Groups of plants will protect each other from the heat and wind.
- After planting, mulch the bed with a good quality mulch to help retain moisture while the plants establish. Our mulch is made from large, composted pine bark chips and is a beautiful addition to your garden, giving it a neat finish.
- In dry areas where you may be struggling get the grass to grow, cover the ground with our small bark nuggets. This protection will retain soil moisture and help organism survival, encouraging grass growth. Our large or medium sized bark nuggets are ideal for decorating along garden paths, walkways and around garden beds. The nuggets have a rich, red/brown colour that has aesthetic appeal and more than that, help to keep the soil cool and moist.
- Looking toward the long term, it is a good idea to plant bigger trees where your prevailing winds come from. They will protect your garden from harsh dry winds in the future.