Water wise gardening

You can reduce water consumption in your garden up to 30% by applying simple design and maintenance principles.

On top of saving water, these ideas will give you a healthier and more productive garden.

Saving Water

  • Check the weather forecast to avoid watering before rain
  • Check and clean your irrigation system every spring
  • Follow EPA guidelines when using greywater from the bathroom and laundry
  • After watering, dig down to see how far it has penetrated, it should be at least 10cm.
  • Install a large water tank - 3,000 litres of water in a tank for summer watering is ideal.
  • Water pots and plants with a low pressure on the hose. The water should be running slowly, not on a spray, as this does not penetrate very deeply. Micro-sprays waste up to 70% water through drift and evaporation and if the soil is mulched, water will not penetrate to the soil.
  • Use a tough drought tolerant grass like ‘Sir Walter Buffalo’; a native grass such as Microlaena stipoides, or a native groundcover like Myoporum parvifolium for the front garden.

Improving the quality of your Soil

  • Worms break down and aerate the soil and so plant roots can breathe.
  • Spreading compost over your soil (under mulch layer) will encourage worms.
  • Late spring (November) is the best time to put on mulch once the winter rains have soaked in.
  • Bark mulch provides limited nutrients so is not ideal in areas where a rich soil is needed.
  • Mulches made from recycled organics last well and feed the soil when they break down
  • Most local and native plants like a relatively infertile soil so they prefer bark mulch on its own without soil improvement
  • Minimise digging unless your soil is compacted after building works. Digging disrupts the soil structure, therefore destroying the air holes and drainage spaces


The purpose of mulch is to conserve water, improve the health and fertility of the soil and to reduce weeds

  • Mulch adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil and reduces your watering needs
  • Mulch also helps keep your garden weed free by preventing weed seeds from contacting soil
  • Apply layers of mulch up to 8cm deep after winter rains to retain moisture in soil
  • It is environmentally preferable to use mulch containing coarse particles of wood, leaves or straw which have been recycled rather than pebbles
  • Keep mulch away from tree trunks and plant stems to prevent rot
  • Unless the mulch is rich in nitrogen (for example, Green Lucerne) it may be necessary to add some nitrogen such as blood and bone to your soil. Most mulch will take up nitrogen as it decomposes

Visit Melbourne Water for more information.