November 12 - 18, 2023: Issue 605


How To Save Water This Spring-Summer: Retaining Water On A Sloping Site + Best Coastal Plants To Retain Soil

Sydney Water has put out a call to save water, see report; Calls For Sydney To Save Water: Dam Levels Dropping - Duffys Forest Highest Consumer Of Water

This Issue, to follow up on their list of tips you can do at home - How To Save Water This Spring-Summer, the four main and simple ideas you can use to stop erosion and retain water in your yard's soil.

With so many blocks in Pittwater having a slope, installing Berms, Retaining walls, Mulch, along with Planting out to retain soil and even consider installing a rainwater tank will help you manage the flow of rain and water across your block to stop soil, fertiliser and even plants flowing into our creeks, wetlands, beaches our waterways.

Berms - or Swales

If the area is a severe slope you can dig in berms and vegetated swales. A berm is a slightly raised area, and a swale is ditch with a mild slope. Berms are used to slow runoff on steep slopes, and swales are planted with grass or other plants to direct water to a rain garden. Swales can also direct water toward a storm drain or street: since they significantly reduce the amount of runoff, very little water that enters a vegetated swale will actually make it to the street or drain. As you dig the swale, pile the excavated soil on the downhill side of the swale. This will create what is called a berm, which helps stabilise the swale.

Constructed swale or bioswale built in a residential area to manage stormwater runoff.

You could also consider making your seasonal creek a…creek! 

If the problem persists turn it into a positive – dig out the channel a little more, even shaping a little meandering towards where you want water to flow, lay the creek-bed with some lovely coloured mixture of stones, plant out some water loving plants beside it and turn what is a natural drain into another feature in your garden. These can look attractive even in dry weather and when you do have rain, the sounds, the birds and frogs this will attract will make what was a minus and plus.

In Australia the stormwater system is separate from the sewer system. Unlike sewage, stormwater is generally not treated before being discharged to waterways and the sea. 

Poorly managed stormwater causes problems on and off home sites through erosion and the transportation of nutrients, chemical pollutants, litter and sediments to waterways. Well-managed stormwater can replace water out of the tap for uses where high quality water is not required, such as garden watering.

Retaining walls

NB: In New South Wales, building approval is required for retaining walls that are taller than 600mm or located closer than 2 meters from another retaining wall, or closer than 1 meter to a lot boundary, or within 40 meters of a water body, or within 1 meter of a registered easement, sewer, or water main.

Retaining Wall A: The easiest and cheapest method here is simply to install a line or curve of rocks compared to employing a professional to build a retaining wall. They drain beautifully in a spot where a solid brick wall would eventually collapse.

Retaining Wall B: Hay bales are also a great fast, cheap way of creating a short-lived retaining wall. Simply line them up along the slope and then insert stakes in-between the hay and the twine, rather than directly through the bale. Lay them like bricks are laid and they’ll be stronger. As a bonus, these bales will eventually fall apart you can use them as mulch. After installation, backfill the bales to create a level planting area.

To build something more substantial or bigger, and for which you will need council permission, see: Retaining Walls For Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds

Stones of retaining wall used in preventing soil run-off. Photo: David Bena

Keeping the Soil by installing plants + Mulch

Mulch installed behind a retaining wall or an open patch lined with stones stops heavy rainfall from destroying soil structure. The advice is straw and compost mulch is fine on flatter slopes, but use heavier bark mulch on steeper sites or it will wash away.

Fibrous-rooted, quick-growing plants like grasses serve double-duty; they protect the soil from rain and bind the soil, preventing it from eroding.

When soil starts eroding, channels form and these become the path of least resistance and if left unchecked can become dangerously deep. Get on top of this problem early by placing a barrier of logs or groups of pot plants in the middle of the water’s path to slow and disperse it.

Best coastal plants for retaining soil in Pittwater are:

  • The best plants for erosion control are Strappy Leaf Plants such as Lomandra, Dianella, and Native Grasses like Pennisetum. The best plants for steep slopes prefer well-draining soil, have deep roots, and are drought-tolerant. 
  • Coastal rosemary (Westringia) will grow well by the seaside and in strong wind. It can also be cut to topiary shapes if you like a neater look.
  • Native saltbush (Rhagodia) grows tall and handsome in a sheltered location; faced with sea breezes it hugs the ground - even more so if you choose the dwarf form.
  • The blue flax lilies (Dianella) double in height in full flower, with slender stems of dainty blue starry blooms. In other months their slender foliage looks fresh and elegant.
  • Coastal banksia (Banksia integrifolia)may get to 20m, but most are much shorter. The leathery leaves are silver-grey underneath, very pretty when the breeze blows. Yellow flowers appear in late summer through to winter.
  • For shady areas, many varieties of Acacia are low-growing and prefer well-drained, sandy soil.
  • A shrub like Hardenbergia is great for steep slopes. This is fast-growing and can be shaped or left to grow as it pleases.

A few other tips to stop rain and soil loss

Reinforcement mesh or Ground reinforcement grids can be dug in alongside the driveway where tyres have flattened or destroyed grass and these will stop damage to the lawn. You can then plant grass seed in these or place them into the turf itself and this will prevent your lawn from being damaged in these areas.

Ground reinforcement grid dug in this week at our place 

Driveway edge ready for grass seed

If you have an area around the garden where rain flow means you have more bare earth than lawn, particularly in areas with less sun at this time of year to promote new growth, the solution may be to install reinforcement mesh there too. Runoff that isn’t reaching stormwater drains will cause flooding and this can cause problems to your home too where water pools against the walls of structures. 

Looking at which way the rain flows over or through the earth on your property, causing erosion and damage to surfaces will present solutions. If it’s being caused by too many non-porous surfaces consider replacing these concrete paths or asphalt driveways with porous materials such as pavers for driveways or bricks for paths.

Installing more porous materials in these areas can also prevent moss build up which needs to be scrubbed with harmful chemicals - using a Pressure cleaner to remove slime buildup during high rainfall seasons.

If the area that is continually bare due to runoff, you may be better off reducing the lawn area and putting in native plants – these will grow in such conditions, especially if you choose those hardy varieties suited to our coastal environment and protect them with a good layer of mulch – this will also help rain and water to percolate into the earth and refuel the water table. 

Extending this idea to put in a garden bed of water-loving plants at the base of this slope will also help eliminate the problem from spreading to areas further down the garden or causing runoff into the roads or street. These are termed ‘rain gardens’.

The installation of a rainwater tank can be used to harvest rain from your roof and drains. Nobody’s water bill is going to come down in one of the driest continents on earth, but this is one way you could turn pennies into pound cakes by year’s end.

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Fencing and Landscape at Narrabeen can provide you with products and advice, while their online store shows the range of easy to install permeable pavers available to reduce your water caused erosion problems.

Spoil mum this year and make that walk to the washing line all the more pleasant by putting in a new, and much safer, path!

Finally, from the Australian Government’s website:

A homeowner can take simple steps to manage stormwater and reduce its environmental impact.

  • Avoid cut and fill on your block when preparing the building foundations. Attempt to maintain the existing topography and drainage pattern.
  • Retain vegetation, particularly deep-rooted trees. They lower the watertable, bind the soil, filter nutrients, decrease runoff velocities, capture sediment and reduce the potential for dryland salinity.
  • Reduce erosion potential on site during building works by minimising the time that land is left in an exposed, unstable condition. Employ sediment traps and divert ‘clean’ stormwater around the disturbed site (see the appendix Sediment control).
  • Minimise the area of impervious surfaces such as paved areas, roofs and concrete driveways.
  • Grade impervious surfaces, such as driveways, during construction to drain to vegetated areas

Greenlife garden centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale - for all your gardening needs.

Greywater Hoses

In times of low rainfall, every drop counts. Drop in to see Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 for a range of ideas like the greywater hoses (modelled here by Scott) to take your washing machine water to your yard.

More Products To Help You Conserve Water This Spring-Summer From Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 + Black Friday Sale 2023

Earthcore Automatic Tap Timer: $55.00

Ideal for misting applications. Easy to install and program. Programmable time delay. Attaches directly to a garden tap. Time delay feature/Rain stop feature.

Neta Electronic One Zone Tap Timer 12mm: $92.00

Large LCD screen and non-slip rubber button. Easy-to-use interface. Fits ¾ inch & 1-inch tap outlets. Suits 12mm click-on. 2-year guarantee. Rain delay function and 11 watering cycles and up to 240 minutes of watering duration.

Cartia Jessi S Trap Toilet Suite: $139.00

The Jessi S-Trap toilet suite from Cartia is suitable for any bathroom design. With great functionality and durable design, the Jessi S-Trap toilet suite is definitely the perfect option for your bathroom. Featuring a soft close quick release seat and PVC cistern, this dual flush toilet suite will appeal to those who are on a budget but still want the best possible product. The 4.5/3L flushing system is water-saving, while the box rim ceramic pan ensures that it will last for years to come without giving you any problems.

Has; 4 Star WELS Rating, Water-saving dual flush 4.5/3L, Soft close quick release seat, Boxed rim ceramic pan, Link toilet suite, S trap supplied setout 80mm- 180mm.

Phoenix Vivid Hand Shower Chrome: $119.00

An elegant fusion of contemporary and premium functionality, this beautifully designed hand shower will complete your bathroom space. Featuring WELS 3 star water rating, this piece is a must-have for your bathroom or laundry.

Australian designed, Elegantly blended contemporary design and premium functionality, Matching accessories available to complete your bathroom look, Finish: chrome, WELS Rating: 3 Star - 8.0l/min, Pressure rating: 150 - 500kPa, Temperature rating: 1 - 75°C, Includes 15 year warranty.

Rocky Point Mulch Tea Tree 50L: $15.50

Featuring gorgeous dark tones and a natural aroma, Rocky Point‘s Tea Tree Mulch is a feast for the senses that‘s guaranteed to bring any garden to life! Spread this environmentally friendly mulch around your ornamentals and natives and you‘ll be amazed at how much water (and weeding time) you can save.

Made as a by-product of the tea tree oil making process, you will experience considerable water savings and prevent unwanted weed growth by using Tea Tree Mulch for ornamental and native gardens alike. Tea Tree Mulch is a beautiful, dark, rich coloured mulch, which will enhance the look of any garden. It also has a fresh and fragrant aroma.

100% organic and fragrant as well as highly decorative, Reduces water usage and improves soil structure, Insulates against extreme hot or cold temperatures, Encourages earthworms Tea Tree Mulch breaks down slowly, enriching the soil through composting, Suppresses weed growth, prevents soil erosion, and is ideal for native gardens, Prepared and tested under strict conditions, this product is certified as an Australian Certified Organic.

Yates Watering Can Green: from $16.25

Removable rose for when a large stream of water is required. Rose for normal watering through to fine spray for watering seedlings. Graduated measures on the side for easy filling. Perfect for all regular watering and fertilising.

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10: Serving Our Community Since 1955

The Independent Hardware Group has awarded Johnson Bros Mona Vale the best in state Store of the Year at the IHG state awards again in 2023.

Johnson Brothers say; ''Thank you to all of our amazing staff and customers for being awesome!''

IHG is Australia’s largest home improvement wholesaler supplying more than 1,500 stores nationwide. These stores cater to a broad range of Trade and DIY customers and range from large format warehouses to convenience operations and Trade centres, as well as frame and truss sites in two States. 

Under the IHG network, there is a clear mandate to support the growth of Independents within the hardware sector in Australia by helping them to be ‘The Best Store in Town’.

The culture of IHG is built on being a low cost and transparent business partner to members, with an unwavering commitment to protect and grow a sustainable independent hardware sector for the long term.

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale - everything you need under one roof.

JBH Design Centre 

JBH Design Centre is a tool for builders and DIY'ers to assist in the fit out of houses. It has displays of kitchens, Bathrooms, Doors and Storage as well as knowledgeable staff to assist in making house fit out painless.


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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

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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

JBH Win Awards August 2018 Trifecta - 2018 Free Trade Day supporters, Mitre 10 Heritage Advert features JBH Mona Vale Store, Hardware Australia’s 2018 NSW Hardware Store of the Year over 2500sqm.

Front Page Issue 294: 2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale !!!

National Garden Week's 2019 Focus Is On Children(Oct 13-19): School Holiday Garden Ideas (to get started on) & Congratulations Award Winning Johnson Brothers Mitre10 At Mona Vale - 2019 NSW Store Of the Year2019 NSW Trade Centre Of the Year and 2019 Village Garden Centre of the Year

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 were awarded as the best Trade Store in the country: February 2020

Family Hardware Store Wins Best In Australia: Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale Crowned ‘National Trade Store Of The Year’ - Celebrating 65th Year in 2020

Johnson Brothers' Mona Vale Outlet Wins Store Of The Year Again In 2023: Tradies Breakfast Every Friday - Recycling Of Batteries Available 

Anzac Day In Pittwater 2020: Candles, Crosses and Online Commemorative Services: Johnson Brothers Family Donates 20 Thousand Candles to Community Light Up The Dawn Initiativ

Front Page Issue 447ANZAC DAY 2020

Front Page Issue 478: Johnson Brothers Avalon Store Renovations & Mona Vale Store: Everything You Need This Summer In Stock

Front Page Issue 492:  JBH Celebrates Upgrade Of Avalon Beach Store

Bob, John and Robert Johnson, 2013 - photo by A J G.
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). 

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