How to use less outside

As a general rule, households in Canberra use about 40% of water in the garden. So this is where you can make big savings by being water-wise. There are lots of ways you can reduce the amount of water you use while still maintaining a beautiful garden.

Water saving tips outdoors 

Your Garden

  • Choose drought tolerant plants and grasses – but remember, these plants will only become drought tolerant once they have a well established root system, so they will require a little more watering for the first few months. To help you chose a suitable plant for Canberra's climate go to the Canberra Plant Selector.
  • Install a drip irrigation system.
  • Use mulch on your garden to reduce evaporation, reduce weed growth and reduce water runoff when it rains. 75mm is an ideal mulch depth.
  • Use greywater from your bathroom and laundry.
  • Use a staged approach to planting. Either plant one section of the garden at a time or start with structural plants like trees and shrubs to establish shelter and reduce evaporation, then add smaller plants later.
  • Use a compost bin. Compost helps soil retain water and is packed full of nutrients that will give your garden the extra boost it needs.
  • Fertilising can help your plants stay healthy, visit your local nursery to find out what's best for your plants.
  • After fertilising the garden, make sure you water in the fertiliser. Be careful not to over water as runoff will occur and the fertiliser will be pushed away from the plants. In soils that contain high percentages of loams and sand or are very high in organics be careful not to push the water nutrient past the effective root zone of the plant.
  • If you mow the lawn, cut the grass much longer in the warmer months to reduce evaporation – put your lawn clippings in the compost bin, or consider buying a mulching mower so you can leave the clippings on the lawn to act as a mulch and reduce evaporation.
  • Use wetting agents to enable soil to absorb water more readily.

Cyclic watering - the most effective way to water

Experts recommend that you water your plants using an efficient method known as cyclic watering. Cyclic watering keeps your garden healthy with minimal water usage. Cyclic watering does not cause excessive pooling or runoff, and helps water better penetrate the soil.

The principles of cyclic watering can be applied to all watering methods, including drip irrigation and hand watering.

  1. Water a designated area until pooling and runoff begins, and then turn the water off.
  2. Leave the area for half an hour to an hour to allow the water to soak into the soil.
  3. Water the area again until pooling and runoff begins, and then turn the water off.
  4. Again, leave the area for half an hour to an hour to allow the water to soak into the soil.
  5. In between watering cycles, dig around to see if the water is reaching the root zones. Then you will know how many times you have to repeat the cyclic watering process to let the water reach areas where it is really needed. You can then program your drip irrigation system accordingly.
  6. Remember to water under the allowed times.

Ask an expert

If you are starting a new garden or considering a complete overhaul of your existing garden, visit your local nursery, call a garden or lawn care expert for inspiration and great ideas on how to create a sustainable, water-efficient and beautiful garden.

Vehicles and paths

  • Many of Canberra's carwashes use high pressure, low volume equipment to minimise use of water and also recycle their water. So visit your local carwash.
  • If you need to wash your car at home, use warm-up water from your shower or try a waterless carwash product.
  • Sweep driveways and other hard surfaces with a stiff bristle broom.
Water saving tips for pets 

Pets

  • Use a shallow bath to wash pets.
  • Call in the experts - Canberra's pet groomers have equipment to wash pets using very little water. Visit Pet Industry Association of Australia at www.piaa.net.au to find one in your area.
  • Keep pets away from areas you have watered with greywater.
  • Call in the experts - Canberra's pet groomers have equipment to wash pets using very little water. Visit Pet Industry Association of Australia at www.piaa.net.au to find one in your area.
  • Keep pets away from areas you have watered with greywater. 

Swimming pools and ponds

A swimming pool may seem hard to maintain when water is scarce. But don't pack away the pool toys just yet! Here are some handy hints that will let you and your family continue to enjoy your pool while saving water. For further information on how to keep your pool in good condition call your local pool maintenance expert. More info visit www.spasa.org.au

Make sure you're familiar with Water Conservation Measures before you decide to build, fill, empty or top up swimming pools and ponds.

How to use less

  • Regularly check your pool for leaks.
  • The water level should be halfway up the skimmer opening for maximum water efficiency. Clean out your skimmer often.
  • Only backwash until the water is clear in the sight glass or at the drain point – one or two minutes at the most.
  • In summer, it's best to run your pool filter eight to ten hours a day - especially when people are in the pool.
  • If you have a rainwater tank use the rainwater to top up your pool.
  • Ensure your pool's quality is maintained all year 'round.

Cover Up

A pool cover is an absolute necessity. It will prevent evaporation, which means fewer top-ups. You'll also save money on pool chemicals.

Smart Approved WaterMark

Smart Approved Watermark 

Smart Approved WaterMark is Australia's outdoor water saving labelling program for products and services that help to reduce water use around the home.

Products and services with the Smart Approved WaterMark label have been assessed by an independent technical expert panel. So look out for the Smart Approved WaterMark label when you're shopping to be sure that what you're buying really will save you water.