19 Aug Planting A Water-Friendly Garden
The “traditional” garden. Everyone knows the one, some sparse shrubbery surrounding an expanse of green lawn – trimmed regularly to be kept neat and uniform.
The effort of keeping a lawn green wastes water, and the trimming of it also contributes to air pollution. In addition to this, lawns are not friendly to pollinators and wildlife as they’re often coated in harmful pesticides and chemical pollutants. These then get washed into the soil and the drains when the lawn is watered and end up in the food we eat and the water we drink.
South Africa experienced water shortages in 2015, which gave people a greater sense of the importance of water and how best to save it. Installing water tanks, using grey water, and using less water to irrigate gardens were all useful strategies.
If you’re wanting flat, sprawling plants you can find a groundcover to suit your needs. Groundcovers don’t grow tall and thus don’t need to be mowed which prevents extra air pollution. They also allow the soil to breathe and can provide for pollinators as some South African groundcovers also have beautiful flowers. Covering the lawn is useful as it reduces evaporation which conserves water.
However, if you’re feeling brave you can do away with flatter plants in general. Paving stones can be used to make a path between beds of indigenous pollinator friendly plants and provide an amazing natural experience in the comfort of your own garden.
Some of the most water-friendly South African plants include:
- Aptenia cordifolia is an evergreen succulent groundcover with pink or yellow flowers. It spreads quickly and can stabilise soil. This is ideal for low-maintenance gardens.
- Tulbaghia violacea (wild garlic) has purple flowers and can survive periods of both extended rain and dry periods, as well as heat. It is incredibly hardy after it has been established.
- Agapanthus praecox has blue or white flowers and have evergreen foliage that can withstand little water.
- Carpobrotus spp. has yellow or pink flowers and is a hardy and evergreen succulent used to stabilise soil. It can be used to replace verges and is easier to grow in areas other plants may find difficult.
- Strelitzia reginae is one of the South African classics and can stand long periods of less water once established.
- Melinis repens is an indigenous grass that is water-wise and beautiful, with pinkish fluffy tufts.
Which South African plants will you be adding to your garden to make it more water-wise?