Whether you’re tidying-up around your section, cleaning the car or watering the garden, there are loads of easy ways to use a bit less water outside.
Washing and cleaning jobs
1. Use a handheld hose with a trigger nozzle
A trigger nozzle lets you stop and start the water flow from your hose instantly. You can direct water where you need it without wasting a drop. Make sure to turn the tap off when you've finished, otherwise the hose may spring a leak.
2. Clear your driveways with a broom
Sweep your driveway and paths, rather than hosing them clean. A broom and dustpan will get paths and driveways clean enough without wasting litres of water to chase a few twigs and leaves away.
3. Clean your car with a bucket
Use a bucket of soapy water and a sponge to clean your car. You can save around 10-15 litres of water per minute just by not using a hose! Always remember to wash your car on the lawn so the soapy water is absorbed by the grass instead of running down the street drain and into our streams and harbours. Better still, use a commercial car wash that recycles it's water.
4. Fix dripping taps
One drip per second from a leaking tap can add up to around 28 litres a day - which adds up to 2,500 litres every 3 months. There are videos online on how to fix a leaking tap or toilet, but if you're in any doubt about what to do, call a plumber.
In the garden
Seasoned gardeners know that the secret to a healthy summer garden has more to do with preparation and how effectively you use water, rather than how much you use. By following these tips, your plants and lawn areas will be green, strong and healthy and you'll save water too.
1. Use mulch to retain moisture
By adding mulch to your garden can cut evaporation by up to 70% by protecting your soil from the drying effects of wind and sun. Grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded paper, peat or straw can all make good mulch. Just make sure soil is moist before mulching and leave a space of a few centimetres around trunks and stems to prevent the development of fungal diseases.
2. Consider low maintenance plants
Perennials and vegetables need extra water in dry periods throughout the growing season. Most other plants (e.g. trees, shrubs, and climbers) need little or no extra water once they are established. There are many attractive plant varieties well suited to dry summer weather; ask your local nursery or garden centre for advice.
3. Water your garden early morning or evening
Wind and sun can quickly steal water meant for your garden through evaporation. Only water on calmer days, in the cool of the early morning or evening, so that the benefit of your watering last longer.
4. Test soil moisture before watering
If your soil is moist 10 centimetres below the surface, you don't need to water. Check every 4-7 days in dry weather and water only if needed.
5. Aim your hose low and slow
When watering your garden, water close to the ground at a rate the soil can absorb. Plants take up moisture through their feeder roots and low, slow watering is the best way to get it there. And never over-water - this encourages fungus, root rot, rusts, mildew and black-spot!
6. Soak, don't sprinkle
Less frequent deep soakings (once or twice a week) encourage feeder roots to grow deeply in search of water. This will help your plants to survive short term drought conditions. Frequent light sprinklings of water encourage shallow roots that are more vulnerable in dry weather. Use drippers or directional sprinkler heads with irrigation so your garden is watered, rather than your paths, fences etc.
7. Lawn care
To protect your lawn from sunburn, leave 25 - 30mm of leaves on top. This will provide shade to the roots and soil. After mowing, leave clippings on the lawn as mulch, to help conserve soil moisture and put nutrients back into the soil.
Follow outdoor water restrictions
Follow your city or district council's watering restrictions - they're designed to spread watering between days and give everyone a fair chance to water effectively without overloading the supply system.
Keen to learn how to save water inside the home? Click here.