Western Australia is a hot dry state and like many parts of Australia now face water restrictions, but you can hand water new planting and with deep waterings on your rostered days, you can still achieve attractive gardens.
The WATER CORP in WA website
Sprinklers are only to be used between 6pm and 9am on your watering days. Remember to only water once on your watering days. To check which rostered watering days your house number has been allocated, check the Water Corp site. There is a $100 fine if you are caught with sprinklers on during the ban.
A permanent Winter watering ban applies to all scheme and bore water users in Perth, Mandurah and some parts of the South West from June 1st to 31st August each year.
Water is essential for the plants uptake of soil nutrients. Moisture in the soil governs how deeply the plants roots go into the earth and this in turn relates to how well the plant can withstand heat. To keep a healthy garden there are steps you can take to help maintain green surroundings. Here are some suggestions and pointers to help you.
- Install an automatic reticulation system which you can set for certain days and controlled times so if you are away or not at home the garden will still be watered. It elimates too the times when you have forgotten the sprinklers are left on!
- Avoid watering in the heat of the day to reduce evaporation. Fungus may occur if watering at night. Early morning is best. On really hot days you can hand water especially if foliage is wilting but avoid wetting the leaves and flowers, so just around the root line.
- Avoid watering on really windy days to avoid drift.
- Spray with a product like Droughtshield or Stressguard which protects the leaves from water evaporation.
- Mulch your garden as this shades the soil from the drying effects of the sun and helps retain moisture around the plant roots.
- Apply wetting agents to the soil. These products are usually detergent based and wash away any waxy water repelling material. They come in different forms, one a liquid which when mixed with water can be poured on from a watering can or sprayer or a granular wetting agent which is sprinkled on by hand and then watered in. They do not hold water but are used to overcome water repellency in the soil. Can be done 2 or 3 times a year.
- Use Water crystals. They act as water holders buried in the soil so are used at the time of planting in the hole. The water runs out around the roots of the plants. The plant extracts the moisture stored in the crystals underground as the crystals expand into lumps of watery gel. You only need 1/4 of a teaspn of dry crystals per plant.
- If going away place all of your potted plants close together for protection and place in the bath with a little water in the bottom. Not a long term solution as they may rot if constantly left sitting in water. Alternatively buy a self watering pot which has a water reservoir in the base. Or fill a plastic drink bottle with water, tip upside down with the neck pushed into the soil to give a slow drink. Instead of standing them in saucers of water you can fill the saucer with moist sand this ensures the roots stay cool.
- Water deeply. The best way to water is to apply it at a rate that the soil will absorb. It has to wet the soil many feet below the surface, especially with new plantings, we recommend you water every day in the summer for new plants. By deep watering the first season you’ll help your plants grow deep root systems able to access moisture far underground after the top has dried out. Pushing a plastic pipes or tubes down deep beside your plant and putting the hose in can help get water down further, this can be moved to plants all over the garden.
- Overwater and the plant will drown, underwater it and it will wilt! So to check the water in your soil, dig a little hole, if you find black soil or smelly roots you have watered too much and may also have poor drainage. If it is dry underneath, then increase the watering, do more frequently or for a longer duration. Overwatering a rich heavy soil may cause it to saturate, compact and suffocate the soil and overwatering sandy soils may leach all the goodness from the surface which causes plant starvation. A lack of water in sandy soils causes topsoil to repel water and then it evaporates when it is applied as it can’t penetrate.