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Some Summer Lovin’ for your garden 

From the Plumbing Industry Commision - Media Release

As Victoria prepares for what’s likely to be another long hot summer with the threat of more severe water restrictions, the Plumbing Industry Commission says the State’s gardens need not take the heat.  

Plumbing Industry Commissioner, Tony Arnel, says there are 10 simple, smart and sustainable steps that everyone can take to save water around the home and the garden.

“The long drought has severely reduced the amount of water available for gardens,” Mr Arnel said.

“With some smart planning, a few wise investments and by following some straightforward tips, you can ensure you get the most out of your garden all year round, while also reducing water consumption.”

Mr Arnel said Victorians should also check their local regulations to ensure they comply with the varying water restrictions in place across the State.

The Commission’s top 10 tips for safeguarding gardens this summer are:

1.  Plant drought tolerant and native plants whenever possible.  Species with lower water requirements - such as cacti, succulents or indigenous (local native) species are suited to local conditions and are generally self-sufficient. A useful plant selector can be found at www.savewater.com.au/how-to-save-water/in-the-garden

2.  Install a rain water tank.  Talk to a licensed plumbing practitioner, who can advise on the best tank for your needs. Remember, a licensed plumbing practitioner is the only person qualified to carry out the plumbing work required to install a tank. Local council planning applications will also need to be considered. It is essential to ensure that rainwater tanks, particularly slimline tanks, are installed securely. 

3.  Use a grey water system.  A grey water system recycles wastewater from laundries and bathrooms for appropriate use elsewhere in the home, and is especially useful in the garden. Grey water may contains many pollutants that can have a serious health impact, so before installing any system, consumers must consult a licensed plumbing practitioner. More information can be found at www.pic.vic.gov.au.

4.  Install specialised water saving equipment.  Drippers and timers save water – and money. A properly calibrated dripper system delivers small amounts of water to where it is most required, while tap timers ensure watering takes place during prescribed times. Most importantly, check local water restrictions for what is allowed when it comes to equipment and timing. However, timers should be regularly monitored to ensure they aren’t leaking or watering too much and should be turned off following rain.

5.  Use a water-efficient nozzle for your hose.  Water-efficient nozzles release water at a highly reduced rate, while the trigger nozzle shuts off water flow altogether before wastage occurs. When you’ve finished watering, make sure you turn the hose off at the tap to avoid leaks. You should also be aware that water, which is retained under pressure in the hose, could heat up causing the first discharge to be extremely hot, which, in severe cases, could result in scolding.

6.  Check taps for leaks.  Check garden watering equipment for leaks by following three simple steps:

  • find your water metre and record the reading.  make sure you do not use any water afterwards for a few hours.
  • read the meter again a few hours later, or first thing in the morning.
  • if the two water readings are the same, then there are no leaks.  However, if they are different, subtract the first reading from teh second and the difference will tell you how much water you are losing.  Call your licenced or registered plumbing practitioner to assist with repairing any leaks as soon as they are detected.

7.  Mulch.  Simply spread a layer of mulch, like woodchips, over flowerbeds and around trees. Mulching prevents more than 70 per cent of moisture evaporation from out of the soil and a rebate is available from the Victorian government when you spend $100 on water-saving products, including mulch.

8.  Use Water crystals and water wetting agents.  When the soil is dry, a strong crust can form, repelling water and increasing evaporation.  Water crystals and wetting agents dramatically improve water absorption in your garden, particularly if it is already very dry.

9.  Move plants out of the sun.  The summer sun can significantly damage your garden, especially plants that require a lot of water.  Whenever possible, move those plants out of direct sun.

10.  Don't cut your lawn too low.   Setting the blade higher – to at least seven centimetres – will shade grass roots as they grow deeper, which will in turn hold soil moisture more effectively.

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