January 8 - 14, 2017: Issue 295

DIY: A Water Wise Garden

Half of suburban water use is in the garden, although if you look at the green bush surrounds we live amongst it’s obvious you can create a beautiful, rewarding garden that requires minimum water, and with rainwater tanks, the installation of ponds or reusing greywater, you could even create a garden that collects water for later use.

Although we are fortunate to not currently be in the midst of a drought, we were a short while ago. We’d like to open the year, and during a season when we may all be a little more water conscious, with a few ideas into how you can have a great garden without water waste.

Reducing your water use and creating a water wise garden focuses on a few vital elements:
A) Plant water saving plants - natives mostly, but also some beautiful cacti or potted plants!
B) Design for low water use - plants that don't require much water, such as some natives and cacti an be grouped together, choose your watering times
C) Collect water - install a rain water tank
D) Reduce water loss - mulch, deepen your soil depth, plant more trees that can provide a canopy of shade, stop water runoff
E) Be wise about water - use methods to introduce water deeper into your soil and straight to the plant roots

Plant water saving plants
A bushwalk shows you our natural surrounds have plants that are low to the ground holding it together, native grasses, bushes and shrubs of a medium height that provide cover and food for native animals and birds, and trees of medium to tall range that provide cool leafy arbours and further homes for native animals.

The best part about introducing some natives into your garden is all the native insects and animals they will bring - visit Australian National Botanic Gardens' website for an extensive resource for native plants - a few suggestions for our area run below.

Ground Covers: Creeping Boobialla, Grevillea poorinda 'Royal Mantle', Purple Coral Pea, Snow In Summer, Common Everlasting
Small Shrubs/Grasses (to 1m): Correa 'Dusky Bells', 'Miniature' or 'Dwarf' Twiggy Baeckia, Spiny-Headed Mat Rush
Medium Shrubs (over 1m): Coastal Rosemary, Long-leaf Waxflower
Tall Shrubs (over 2m): Banksia ‘Giant Candles’, Grevillea, Scarlet or Lemon Bottlebrush, Coastal wattles
Trees: Black She-Oak, Coast Banksia, Crepe Myrtle, and of course three we're well known for in Pittwater; Spotted Gums, Swamp Mahogany and those beautiful red trunked Angophoras

Design for low water use
By grouping plants with similar thirst you can reduce your water use because you don’t have to water the whole garden just to cater for the most thirsty plants. Water the thirsty ones when they need it, and the others less often.

JBH Fencing & Landscape Supplies: Narrabeen  (02) 9970 6333

Covering the ground with a living “coat” of layers of plants at different levels you will reduce evaporation, create a more consistent ground temperature in summer and winter, and create a more healthy environment for other living creatures (such as insects, frogs, birds and lizards) that generally assist with plant health. Native peas, taller grevilleas and all those lovely banksias that will provide beautiful flowers year round are a great boon for any Pittwater garden.

Keep yourself and your garden under a green wing!: You will have noticed the big difference in temperature when you are in the shade of trees, compared with being out in the open sun on lawn or bare ground. Tree shade is always going to be more dense and cooler than pergola or verandah shade from roofs but you can add some extras in to double that shade in outdoor used areas - plant out a long flowerpot with a low hedge to create a barrier or install some shadecloths - visit: Shade Sails And Watering 

As some plants require full sun (vegetables for instance), you need to carefully plan the location of taller plants to the south of shorter ones that need full sun.

Reduce water loss
Water is lost in two ways; runoff and evaporation.
With the prevalence of concrete and paved driveways comes a green slippery growth that you have to scrub off annually or even sooner to stop people slipping and falling. There are now a great range of pavers and tiles you can apply slip-preventatives to and even non-toxic treatments for when the green does build up - a good yard broom with stiff bristles and a regular sweep will reduce the times when you do have to 'water the cement'. To reduce and reuse water when you do have to do a clean of paved or cemented areas, try and direct the water used onto your garden or lawn areas (not if you have used chemicals to clean as this will kill plants). 

A few tips and tricks can be found in a previous page: Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes 

Karcher K2 Telescopic Home Pressure Cleaner - Kit includes K2 gun, 6m hose, vario power nozzle, dirt blaster and T-Racer 150 patio cleaner. - $199.00

Seasol Fertiliser Concentrate 2L - $19.96
Water that does land on the soil should soak into it quickly and deeply so it will be available to plants and not lost to the sun and wind. To create topsoil with good drainage you’ll need to break down clumpy, solid soil (such as clay) with an additive such as “GroundBreaker”; and dig in large amounts of compost. Organic material added to the soil will improve water absorption straight away, but most importantly, it will encourage populations of worms and other subsoil creatures that will do even more for soil drainage and plant nutrition over the long term.

Create the deepest possible topsoil, and continue to compost waste from your garden and kitchen to replenish the soil on an ongoing basis. Nature reduces evaporation by covering the soil with plants, plant litter, or preferably both. You should do the same. Regardless of how closely plants are spaced, cover the soil with about 75mm of mulch. Many materials can be used, including compost, leaves, wood chip, bark, straw, coconut or sugarcane fibre, or even pebbles. The purpose of this layer is to insulate the soil from the sun and wind, but it fulfils many other functions, including providing a habitat for many creatures that again provide nourishment for plants.

Collect water
Installing a rainwater tank forms part of the requirements for all new homes for good reason - older homes may not have these water saving
The roof of your house isn’t the only rain-collector available to you. The ground itself receives the same amount of rain, so think about how much water the soil can absorb, and how you can drain pathways and paving into the garden beds and lawns.

The average household produces 400 litres of greywater per day. If you can use it all to replace drinking water that you would have used for watering plants you could save around 140 thousand litres of drinking water every year. Greywater is the waste water from showers, baths, spas, hand basins, laundry tubs, washing machines, dishwashers and kitchen sinks (although kitchen water is generally too contaminated to be reused).

Another way to collect water is to install a pond or water feature that, when it rains, runs over into your garden via directed channels or pipes. These too can be directed to a rainwater tank to water summer vegetables. For other ideas on installing ponds and water features for that soothing sound of water visit:  Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water

Be wise about water
Water on the surface of soil will evaporate before plants can make use of it, so using methods of introducing water deeper into the soil will reduce water use and benefit the plants in your garden. When renewing gardens and lawns consider installing perforated agricultural pipe (ag pipe for short) to use as a deep watering system as well as drainage. You can connect these pipes to your stormwater system in a variety of ways, depending on your home’s specific situation. For example, you might want to connect them to the overflow pipe from your water tank, so the tank fills first, then water flows deep into the ground, then water flows to the stormwater drains. This is a throwback to when stormwater drains once did send rainwater down into “rubble” pits in the ground to disperse over time and probably time we returned to not wasting a single drop. Be aware these pipes can become invaded and choked by tree roots and may need replacing every few years.

You can also water deep down with your hose by using a “Water Spike”. It is simply a long metal tube with a hose connection. As you push down on the spike, with the water running, it easily penetrates deeply into the soil.

A better use for plastic: Cut the bottoms off plastic drink bottles, remove the lids, and bury them at least half-way down in the soil next to a plant. Fill the bottle when you water the garden and this little reservoir will trickle-feed the plant for 24 hours or more. Even easier, buy a set of watering spikes and attach the bottles to them.

Spray and sprinkler irrigation systems waste water by atomising it so that much of it is evaporated before it even reaches the ground – especially on hot or windy days. Make sure you choose your watering times to suit the season - early in the morning and a half hour before dusk in Summer will work best. You can also install drip irrigators and completely cover them with mulch.

Gard&Grow® Soaker Hose - 15m $14.00

Hozelock 20m Retractable Hose Reel - $109.00

Wobble-Tee Lawn Sprinkler - Waters up to 15m (DIA): $37.70

Rockwell 139CC Lawn Mower - 16" chassis, 3 year Warranty - $259.00

Weber Baby Q1000 - 35(H) x 69(W) x 52(D)cm with lid open, Cast iron split grill - $299.00

Cabot's Natural Decking Oil All Purpose 4L - Naturally pigmented, enriching oil for enhancing and protecting exterior timber, Turps clean-up,  All purpose 
$58.90 - Lots of other Specials on Cabots products - call into the Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Stores

Create A Habitat Stepping Stone!

Over 50 Pittwater households have already pledged to make a difference for our local wildlife, and you can too! Create a habitat stepping stone to help our wildlife out. It’s easy - just add a few beautiful habitat elements to your backyard or balcony to create a valuable wildlife-friendly stopover.

How it works

1) Discover: Visit the website below to find dozens of beautiful plants, nest boxes and water elements you can add to your backyard or balcony to help our local wildlife.

2) Pledge: Select three or more elements to add to your place. You can even show you care by choosing to have a bird appear on our online map.

3) Share: Join the Habitat Stepping Stones Facebook community to find out what’s happening in the natural world, and share your pics, tips and stories.

What you get                                  

• Enjoy the wonders of nature, right outside your window. • Free and discounted plants for your garden. • A Habitat Stepping Stone plaque for your front fence. • Local wildlife news and tips. • Become part of the Pittwater Habitat Stepping Stones community.

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out! www.HabitatSteppingStones.org.au

No computer? No problem -Just write to the address below and we’ll mail you everything you need. Habitat Stepping Stones, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University NSW 2109

This project is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust

Vegepods are a great idea for the junior gardener or for those who like to pick fresh produce straight from their Unit balcony.
For some plant out ideas, visit:  Salad Garden for Children 

Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10. 

Click on logo to visit Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 website

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Avalon            (02) 9918 3315

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale     (02) 9999 3340

JBH Timber & Building Supplies          (02) 9999 0333

JBH Fencing & Landscape Supplies    (02) 9970 6333


All information and tips in this publication are of a general nature only and neither Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 or Pittwater Online News does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this publication. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 advises you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). 

You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.

Previous DIY Pages:

Decking Timbers  Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes  Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II  Privacy Screening Hardwoods  Autumn Paths and Lawns  Insulation Batts Plasterboard  Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care Shade Sails & Watering  Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed  How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in  a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed  Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System  Decking Oils  How To Make Garden Compost  How To Winter proof Your Lawn How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed  Growing Your Own Winter Vegies Winter Heating Guide Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix  Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I  Install Your Own Skylight  Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds  Summer Salad Garden Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach  Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water  Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II Autumn Garden Tasks  Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist  Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home  Fixing Your Fence  Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards  DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015  DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015  Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall  DIY One Shelf Sideboard  Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children  Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather  Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun  How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture  Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge  How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting  Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring  Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months  Children’s Step Stool with Storage  Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes  DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing  Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation  DIY Garden Shed: Weatherboards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay  Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant  DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform  DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home  Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting 


John and Bob Johnson - The Johnson Brothers Profile  John William Alfred Johnson - The Eulogies for those who could not attend Mass

Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016

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