Good water saving practices for garden and lawn lovers
Author: Adam Fitzhenry Date Posted:19 September 2018
Minimise your water usage and maximise the water holding capacity of your lawns and gardens with a few helpful tips.
Spring has sprung and as the weather begins to warm up, we find ourselves gravitating outdoors and on to our lawns and gardens. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a dry spring, meaning water conservative should be at the top of everybody’s list, including gardeners and lawn lovers.
We know the thought of brown, brittle grass and wilting plants may horrify some of our lawn and garden lovers, and if you think drought conditions might mean you’ll have to sacrifice that good-looking lawn of yours or give up on your lawn and garden dreams, we’re here to tell you otherwise.
To hold on to that luscious, green springy grass and vibrant garden you’ve got growing, it’s all about watering in the right amounts, at the right times and conditioning your soil to hold on to more water.
It’s common to think the more time you spend waving the hose back and forth over your lawn, the greener the grass, but this isn’t quite accurate. Now don’t be mistaken, proper watering is necessary for healthy root growth, but there are ways to minimise your water usage and still have an enviable lawn!
Start with soil wetter
To start, you should use a good natural soil wetter to help improve the soil structure, therefore increasing the water holding capacity. Many of our gardeners and lawn lovers would be familiar with or have experienced hydrophobic soils (water-repellent) soils. If you’re unsure whether your soil is hydrophobic or not, we have a simple experiment for you to try:
Take some dry soil from either your lawn, garden or pot and put it in a bowl. Make a well in the top and then pour a little water into that well. If your soil is hydrophobic, the water will pool in the well, otherwise it should absorb rather quickly.
Soil is said to become hydrophobic when the majority of organic matter breaks down and leaves a waxy coating on the soil particles. If you find your soil is hydrophobic, the best thing to use is a soil wetter. Soil scientist Dr Peter May compared soil wetters to detergents, saying they are able to overcome the waxing coat and allow water to penetrate the pore spaces in soil.
Avoid cheap and chemical fertilisers
One of our best tips to saving water is to stop using cheap chemical fertilisers. Cheap and chemical fertilisers often produce a quick result, but they’re like a sugar hit – the effect is used quickly and only provides a short-term boost, with many of the nutrients either washing away or dissolving in to the air. Instead, try using products that contain organic matter or adding some compost.
All hail organic matter
In general, the more organic matter in your soil the more water it will store. Even increasing the soil’s organic matter by a small amount will significantly improve its water holding capacity. Look for products that contain humic and fulvic acids or natural chelating properties, as these will ensure a quicker nutrient uptake by lawns and plants and decrease run-off and wastage.
Other natural products to look out for are zeolites and humates, which help the soil structure to retain moisture and provide beneficial microbes. Plant Doctor’s VolcaMin holds more than 60 per cent of its weight in water, as well as holding nutrients and reducing leaching. Think of VolcaMin as a magnet, keeping nutrients and moisture close by for when plants need them.
We recommend keeping your grass around 2 inches, though this can change depending on species. This way, the taller grass shades the soil and helps retain moisture. The general rule of thumb is to only remove a third of the blade when you mow.
It’s a pretty simple one, don’t water during the hottest parts of the day. The best watering times are generally either early in the morning or late afternoon, almost evening. This will ensure your soil stays moist overnight, rather than evaporating during the heat of the day.
Cheap chemical fertilisers27 September 2018Whilst we agree wholeheartedly with 99% of the article content and fully support organic inputs, we suggest that the methodology and rate of application when using "cheap chemical fertilisers" has a greater bearing on the "quick fix effect" than the chemical itself. When used responsibly and fertigated in small amounts (micro-dosing) rather than broadcasting at overdose rates the "cheap fertiliser" can provide a broad range of cation and anion minerals that the plants can digest through their symbiotic relationship with the soil food web. It's the irresponsible rate of application rather than the cheap chemical that is the issue.
In general what you are saying is a valid point. But typically this is only true for fertilisers that contain a wide range of minerals. A lot of them dont, and unfortunately most of the general public dont know good from bad. Furthermore, some cheap chemical fertilisers contain heavy metals, which with regular use, "build-up" in the soil and can become toxic, to micro-organisms and potentially humans and animals. Our goal is educate people to teach them that you can use more environmentally friendly products that may be just organic, or could be a combination of both, and get as good or better results than just applying more and more chemicals, which in most ways, work against nature and will eventually damage the soil profile, if not used in conjunction with natural or organic products.