Top Tips for a Water Efficient Garden

Don’t Make Changes to Your Garden in Summer

Summer is the time to maintain and enjoy your garden. The ideal time for new plants, installing irrigation systems and other major changes is autumn, as the garden has nine months to recover before the heat of next summer.

You will need to maintain your garden in summer by keeping up the mulch, pruning and increasing shade. In summer, disturbed soil loses its moisture rapidly and makes it hard for gardens to recover.

In autumn, particularly once rain has fallen, your new garden will be less labour intensive to create and more likely to prosper.

Water Wise Rules apply to gardening from 1 July 2014. Under Water Wise Rules watering of lawns and gardens with a sprinkler, irrigation system or trigger nozzle hose, is permitted any day before 10am or after 4pm to avoid the heat of the day.

For more information on watering your garden efficiently, see Irrigation Australia: Your Guide to Good Garden Watering.


  • Mulch can reduce evaporation from soil by up to 70 per cent. Mulch is like blanket on the soil, keeping it cool and protecting it from drying out.
  • Mulch also improves soil structure, increasing water retention, soil nutrients and worm activity. Mulch is essential if you are going to maintain your garden through periods of low rainfall.


  • Here’s a test: before watering your garden, push aside the mulch and put your finger into the soil. If it is moist below the surface, then you don’t need to water.
  • Many healthy plants in good soils are drought-tolerant and even in dry weather conditions will not need additional watering once established.
  • With your existing plants try watering less frequently and then not at all.
  • Observe them for signs of stress including wilting and leaf fall. You may be surprised how tough many of your plants are.
  • Less frequent deep watering assists deep rooted plants to be equipped to withstand hot, dry days.

Soil Additives

One of the problems with soil that has dried out is it repels water, wasting the precious water you put on it. Soil wetting agents and water retention products can dramatically improve the success of new plantings and water absorption in your garden, particularly if it is already very dry.

Water crystals absorb water roots which can access as the soil around dries out. Wetting agents enable water to soak in and also hold water in the root zone.