8 | HOME & LIFESTYLE 2019 0438 533 948 Debra Donnelly • email@example.com • Curtains • Pelmets • Roller Blinds • Screen Blinds • Venetians • Verticals • Romans • Shutters • Awnings and more M510953 While the drought continues to hurt farmers across East Gippsland, the big dry is also taking its toll on our gardens. Water is a valuable resource that can become scarce during times of drought. The reality around our use of water really needs to be brought into our consciousness. Being able to drought proof your garden by re- ducing the amount of water it needs to stay healthy will not only save you money but time as well. SOIL WETTING AGENTS Stop water run-off and say goodbye to dry sur- faces by adding soil wetting agents or water crystals to retain the water in your soil. They allow water to more effectively penetrate dry surfaces and assist with preventing run-off. CLAY TO GLAZED By choosing your container carefully you can help prevent soil moisture loss. Different materials heat up differently and can therefore lose moisture at a more rapid rate. Clay pots will lose moisture through their porous surface and will dry out more quickly than glazed pots. Note – if the pots are placed on a garden bed they will draw moisture out of the soil around them. MULCH Add mulch as it reduces the soil temperature uring hot months, which can help your plants urvive longer without water. Ideally it should be applied 50-75mm thick. It can also reduce evaporation from the soil nd assists with limiting weed growth. CULTIVATING The most important thing is to grow the or- anic content, because that’s the sponge under he ground that’s away from evaporation and it ives the water the chance to stay there and eep a nice temperature. Cultivating organic matter could be as easy as nstalling a compost bin or small worm farm nd introducing a bucket into the kitchen to ollect food scraps. Separating food scraps ensures you start to get orm castings. When you get that under the mulch, it will old the moisture. MOISTURE METER Know whether your plants need water by using a moisture meter. This handy little tool gives you a definitive an- swer whether your plants need water or not. A reading of 10-30 per cent indicates the soil needs water, 40-70 per cent the soil is exactly where it needs to be, 80-100 per cent means the soil is too wet. If you don’t have one, test the soil with your finger, if it is damp approximately 2cm deep it doesn’t need water. PICK THE RIGHT PLANTS Use plants that have minimal water require- ments, for example, agave, euphorbia, yucca, acacia, geranium, buxus, leptospermum. Remember drought-tolerant plants require good drainage as wet or water-logged soil mixed with cold weather will kill them in winter. SYNTHETIC GRASS Use synthetic grass and save a heap of water normally used for watering your lawn. A real lawn uses up 90 per cent of the water applied to your garden. SPACE PLANTS Stop plants competing with other plants for water and nutrients. It is important to allow adequate space between your plants so they don’t compete with each other for water, root space and/or nutrients. GROUPING Keep plants with similar water requirements together and save unnecessary watering. This allows you to give your plants the right amount of water they need at the right time and will save plants that don’t need a lot of water re- ceiving too much. WATERING When it comes to watering, be careful about when and where the water should go. Don’t water in the middle of the day; watering before eight in the morning or after six at night, assists with reducing evaporation. TREES Get more shade and use less water by plantin trees. Once they have had time to establish themselves, most trees won’t require additional watering. Their roots work by soaking up water from the groundwater table. Trees will also shade other parts of the garden, helping plants to stay cool and therefore reduce their water requirements. Planting trees close to your home for the shade can help reduce air-conditioning costs. C A L L R Y 0 4 0 3 5 0 9 8 2 8 M511009 Addingmulch to your garden can reduce evaporation and limit weed growth.