The 17 Things

Low water gardens, sometimes referred to as water-wise or drought-resistant gardens, contain plants that are suitable for dry climates like Australia. Despite what people may think low water gardens can be lush and inviting and they mean a lot less water usage for the property and less time spent on garden maintenance.

No 14: Low Water Garden

The 17 Things

What Is It?

Bou3.Water-wise-2

The water-wise garden with the tiny flowers of Pelargonium sidoides at bottom, Arctotis acaulis ‘Torch’ in the middle, and a Penstemon at top.
Image credits to Pacific Horticulture www.pacifichorticulture.org

Low water gardens, sometimes referred to as water-wise or drought-resistant gardens, contain plants that are suitable for dry climates like Australia. Soil maintenance and mulching are also important for a water wise garden, as is a reduction of lawn area.

“With some careful planning a garden can be converted into a sustainable environment by using a technique called xeriscape, which means a landscape designed around limited water. The concept is based on a number of practical techniques, and gardeners across our dry country will be encouraged to learn that this concept has seen gardens thriving around the world under conditions much harsher than ours.” Matthew Lunn, Gardening Australia

Despite what people may think low water gardens can be lush and inviting. And it’s not just about the plants: understanding your soil is an important aspect of creating a low water garden. For instance, clay soils absorb water more slowly making them preferable to sandy soils.

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

A low water garden means less water usage for the property and also less time spent on garden maintenance and a beautiful garden to enjoy, no matter what the climate holds. When water restrictions are imposed, which is often the case in Australia, the plants that gardeners have lovingly tended can literally die back in a matter of weeks if they are dependent on frequent watering.

Most of the water for a property is used for the garden, so low water gardens will reduce your water costs which are an essential running cost for you home. In additional if well designed, your low water garden can utilise native trees to shade the property from direct sunlight so that it requires less air-conditioning in the summer, can keep a garden cool and reduce evaporation.

Canberra garden water use

Australian gardens need a lot of water. For example, in Canberra, water use in gardens makes up 39% of total home water usage.

The following percentages show how much of the average household water is used on the garden in each state (they all relate to gardens except for Melbourne where “outdoor” could include other outdoor uses (pools, car washing, etc.). So you can see what a difference a water-wise garden can make.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

Landscape designers and horticulturalists are skilled in helping you design a low water garden. You can contact the state-based Landscaping Australia organisations or you can search for a local landscape designer on the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers website, which has a directory of members for each state.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

An Australian succulent, Disphyllum Sunburn.

An Australian succulent, Disphyllum Sunburn.
Image credits to Australian Succulents www.australiansucculents.com/

Creating a new garden from scratch is not just about incorporating waterwise exotic, Australian, local or indigenous plants. It’s about good design, products and techniques which all come together to great water saving potential. A water-wise landscaper will consider the soil, shade, mulch, fertilisers and groundcover and irrigation solutions like drip irrigation.

If you want to do it yourself then be prepared to redesign the garden so that it has less grass/lawn areas, which need lots of water. Take the time to research the plants that thrive in your local area and that are natural water savers. Read plant labels in a nursery to find out about their sun, shade and water requirements. Think about where you want to grow shade plants. Deciduous trees can provide summer shade, winter sun and autumn leaves that are good for composting.

Consider grouping plants together with similar water requirements, which prevents over- or under-watering individual plants. It can also simplify the design and operation of a drip irrigation system.

What is the price range I can expect?

Low water garden in WA featuring Kangaroo Paws.
Image credit www.mandurah.wa.gov.au

The price depends on what you want to achieve. Purchasing a few native or low water plants is a cost effective project compared to building a low water garden. Some professionals may give you some very preliminary advice for free, others may only indicate the sorts of solutions they may provide, so you will need to work this out when you first speak to them. Some councils even give away seedlings of local native species for you to plant in your garden to support your low water garden decisions

Where can I find more information?

Your local council may have information sheets on creating a water-wise garden in your area.

Resources for more information on low water gardens (often called water-wise gardens) in your region.

National
Queensland
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

If you already have a low water garden you can make it even more water efficient by doing the following:

  • Maintain the soil: Break up compacted soil to increase water absorption and fertilise regularly.
  • Mulch: Retain moisture by mulching with bark chips, shredded prunings, hay, pebbles or leaf litter.
  • Prune: Plants are healthier and use less water when pruned regularly
  • Weed: Weeds use up precious water so keep gardens free from weeds.
  • Use free water: Install a rainwater tank, divert tank overflows and roof run-off to the garden, and use grey water where possible and appropriate.
  • If you have to water your garden then do it only in the early morning or evening to reduce the effects of evaporation
  • Manage the lawn: Keep grass well aerated to minimise run-off and consider lawn alternatives – replace lawn with mulch or a native grassland area using local grasses.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™

Low water gardens can be combined with No. 16 Rainwater Tank (appropriately sized for your local rainfall and needs). It can be connected to the garden and can help irrigate or water the plants for further reduced running costs.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

What Is It?

Bou3.Water-wise-2

The water-wise garden with the tiny flowers of Pelargonium sidoides at bottom, Arctotis acaulis ‘Torch’ in the middle, and a Penstemon at top.
Image credits to Pacific Horticulture www.pacifichorticulture.org

Low water gardens, sometimes referred to as water-wise or drought-resistant gardens, contain plants that are suitable for dry climates like Australia. Soil maintenance and mulching are also important for a water wise garden, as is a reduction of lawn area.

“With some careful planning a garden can be converted into a sustainable environment by using a technique called xeriscape, which means a landscape designed around limited water. The concept is based on a number of practical techniques, and gardeners across our dry country will be encouraged to learn that this concept has seen gardens thriving around the world under conditions much harsher than ours.” Matthew Lunn, Gardening Australia

Despite what people may think low water gardens can be lush and inviting. And it’s not just about the plants: understanding your soil is an important aspect of creating a low water garden. For instance, clay soils absorb water more slowly making them preferable to sandy soils.

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

A low water garden means less water usage for the property and also less time spent on garden maintenance and a beautiful garden to enjoy, no matter what the climate holds. When the dry season comes, the plants that gardeners have lovingly tended can literally die back in a matter of weeks if they are dependent on frequent watering.

Most of the water for a property is used for the garden, so low water gardens will reduce your water costs which are an essential running cost for you home. In additional if well designed, your low water garden can utilise native trees to shade the property from direct sunlight so that it requires less air-conditioning in the summer, can keep a garden cool and reduce evaporation.

Darwin garden water use

Australian gardens need a lot of water. For example, in Darwin, water use in gardens make up 69% of total home water usage.

The following percentage shows how much of the average household water is used on the garden in Darwin. So you can see what a difference a water-wise garden would make.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

Landscape designers and horticulturalists are skilled in helping you design a low water garden. You can contact the state-based Landscaping Australia organisations or you can search for a local landscape designer on the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers website, which has a directory of members for each state.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

An Australian succulent, Disphyllum Sunburn.

An Australian succulent, Disphyllum Sunburn.
Image credits to Australian Succulents www.australiansucculents.com/

Creating a new garden from scratch is not just about incorporating waterwise exotic, Australian, local or indigenous plants. It’s about good design, products and techniques which all come together to great water saving potential. A water wise landscaper will consider the soil, shade, mulch, fertilisers and groundcover and irrigation solutions like drip irrigation.

If you want to do it yourself then be prepared to redesign the garden so that it has less grass/lawn areas, which need lots of water. Take the time to research the plants that thrive in your local area and that are natural water savers. Read plant labels in a nursery to find out about their sun, shade and water requirements. Think about where you want to grow shade plants. Deciduous trees can provide shade and the leaves that are good for composting.

Consider grouping plants together with similar water requirements, which prevents over- or under-watering individual plants. It can also simplify the design and operation of a drip irrigation system.

What is the price range I can expect?

Low water garden in WA featuring Kangaroo Paws.
Image credit www.mandurah.wa.gov.au

The price depends on what you want to achieve. Purchasing a few native or low water plants is a cost effective project compared to building a low water garden. Some professionals may give you some very preliminary advice for free, others may only indicate the sorts of solutions they may provide, so you will need to work this out when you first speak to them. Some councils even give away seedlings of local native species for you to plant in your garden to support your low water garden decisions.

Where can I find more information?

Your local council may have information sheets on creating a water-wise garden in your area.

Resources for more information on low water gardens (often called water-wise gardens) in your region.

National
Queensland
Western Australia
Northern Territory

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

If you already have a low water garden you can make it even more water efficient by doing the following:

  • Maintain the soil: Break up compacted soil to increase water absorption and fertilise regularly.
  • Mulch: Retain moisture by mulching with bark chips, shredded prunings, hay, pebbles or leaf litter.
  • Prune: Plants are healthier and use less water when pruned regularly
  • Weed: Weeds use up precious water so keep gardens free from weeds.
  • Use free water: Install a rainwater tank, divert tank overflows and roof run-off to the garden, and use grey water where possible and appropriate.
  • If you have to water your garden then do it only in the early morning or evening to reduce the effects of evaporation
  • Manage the lawn: Keep grass well aerated to minimise run-off and consider lawn alternatives – replace lawn with mulch or a native grassland area using local grasses.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™

Low water gardens can be combined with No. 16 Rainwater Tank (appropriately sized for your local rainfall and needs). It can be connected to the garden and can help irrigate or water

the plants for further reduced running costs.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

The 17 Things

The 17 Things

The 17 Things™ are property features that have the potential to reduce running costs and increase comfort if used correctly. You can discuss incorporating these into your renovation with with your architect, building designer or builder. The real estate industry is now identifying these Liveability Property Features™at point of sale or rent through agents that have completed additional training as Liveability Real Estate Specialists.