Sadly the fine English garden is a thing of the past for most of us in Cape Town. With the current drought, we’re not able to sustain the beautiful, water-thirsty plants that used to ramble magnificently through our gardens. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn away from beauty. On the contrary, with careful planning where indigenous plants replace their thirstier counterparts and paving replaces most lawns, our gardens can look just as beautiful while conserving water too.
If you’ve yet to make the leap into a water-wise garden, here are the three steps to focus on:
Do your research and find out more about what grows naturally in your area – it makes no sense to choose a species that thrives up-country, but won’t experience the same climate wherever you are. Next curate the list and select those light on water, you can group them according to their water needs – from the thirstiest to the desert dwellers, and when you plant them, be sure to place them together as well so that you can water accordingly.
After carefully selecting the right vegetation for your garden, be sure to prepare the soil – most plants, no matter how hardy, will not survive if their environment is not ideal. This means digging in vast quantities of compost before you plant. Compost adds nutrients to the earth, fosters earthworm activity, and ultimately assists with water retention. Once the plants are in, spread a thick layer of mulch on top of the garden beds; this helps to keep the earth cool and reduces evaporation, it also discourages weeds from growing which steal precious water away from your beautiful new plants.
If it’s feasible, retain a small patch of lawn to add variety to the hard landscaping, but for the most part lawns should be replaced with stones or residential paving. Even if you do have a well point or borehole, it makes no sense to keep rolling expanses of lawn as part of your landscape design, it’s simply no longer sustainable. Where limited lawn is retained, be sure to keep it long so that the sun can’t burn the roots and water less frequently, but thoroughly, to encourage deep root growth.
The water-wise garden has its own kind of beauty and apart from conserving water, it’s also easier to maintain. If you require any advice on paving in Cape Town, be sure to call QPave – Cape Town’s paving specialists who offer the highest quality paving and professional service.