A drought is a tough time for all plants in your garden, especially the poor brown lawn. Here are Don’s tips on what to do, and what not to do, during the drought.
Use glazed or plastic pots
If you haven’t got much water, grow your plants in glazed or plastic pots. Terracotta, concrete and reconstituted sandstone pots tend to dry out very quickly. Plastic and ceramic pots that are glazed don’t seep water out through the sides and they don’t need so much water.
Hand water in the rain
Your neighbours will think you’re mad, but take Don’s advice and hand water when it’s raining. The rain will do the job of wetting the soil surface, giving you the perfect opportunity to deep water using a shower-like hose fitting or perhaps a deep watering probe, which waters very efficiently by injecting water into the soil near plant roots.
Garden in small spaces
If you’re doing any gardening, stick to small, manageable areas. It’s easy to water and look after a small flower bed, or some herbs and salad vegetables in pots.
Don’t fertilise your garden until the rains come. If you want to fertilise but you’re not sure how much it will rain in the future, use slow release fertilisers, because they won’t burn the roots of your plants.
Think about installing a rainwater tank to collect some of the water from your roof. Ask your local council about the possibility of modifying the guttering and downpipes, so that rainwater can be used on the garden instead of going down the drain.
Use soil wetting agents
Use soil wetting products such as Wettasoil, SaturAid or the new Yates Waterwise. (Note: these are really only effective in sandy soils.)
Water trees and shrubs
If you don’t water your trees and shrubs during the drought they may die. Trees often die about a year or two after a drought – but the real damage was actually done during the drought. You may have a 10 – 50 year investment in a mature garden tree, so look after it.
Forget the lawn
Don’t water, aerate or fertilise your lawn during a drought. Concentrate on watering your trees and shrubs, rather than the lawn. Lawns can brown off during a drought and still recover rapidly when it rains. Aerating the lawn during periods of drought will simply allow the soil to get far too dry, and fertiliser will burn the roots. Give your lawn some TLC when the rains come.