What a difference a few months makes. My plants that until only recently were bursting with verdant vitality stretching up to the spring sunshine are now looking a bit dog eared and world weary as they begin to bake in the summer sun. Of course, it would be easy to just open the flood gates and water with gay abandon to wash away those summer browns but we had set our garden a pretty tough challenge – survive and thrive on 50% less scheme water in what we have colourfully described as our “H2NO” diet.
Now, to be fair, we didn’t just throw our plants at the mercy of the relentless sun, we had done everything we could to get them into shape. In Spring we set about ‘drought proofing’ the garden – nice new levels of rough course mulch to insulate the soil, liberal doses of wetting agents to make sure that precious water gets through to those all important roots and a strict use of Waterwise plants to give some proven heatwave pedigree. All of this has given us the confidence that despite some leaves drooping in protest our newly reworked garden can survive and perhaps even thrive on an average of 1 watering a week.
Now to ‘wean’ our plants off that much scheme water we have needed some extra help. Our fancy 5000 Litre rainwater tank – sitting quietly under our back porch - gives us great supplies for one garden hose. Our wonderful new greywater system – looking very sleek and funky set below the new recycled decking - is hooked up to the laundry and both showers and thanks to the demands of 3 grotty kids gives us a whopping watery boost of around 100,000 litres per year for the garden. In fact about 40% of what we would normally expect to use from the scheme supply now comes free with each turn of the tap! I cant tell you the pleasure I get from knowing the water I watch going down the shower drain is not being wasted but is actually being used.
Throw in a reduction in our lawn area to a pocket sized area under the old hills hoist and I reckon we are well on track to slamming our “H2NO” diet and showing that less water doesn’t have to mean less of a garden or lifestyle in this time of dwindling rainfall and a drying climate.
For more details, progress and tour dates on the Great Sustainable Home Challenge you can follow Chris and his family on www.theforeverproject.com.au and watch episodes of GGTV.