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Red Daffodil: Tips for Waterwise Lawns

Day Zero looms in Cape Town as the drought continues to threaten our water supply in the city. Gardening has sadly taken a backseat during this time but there are still things we can do to re-energise this space around the home. Thanks to Red Daffodil, we share some important tips to creating a water-wise lawn.

Chris Maddams from Red Daffodil says that, even in times of plentiful rainfall, water-wise gardening is essential! He explains that lawns are the least water-wise aspect of a garden and the most cost-intensive. For sure, grass is the cheapest to install but down the line you’ll realise that it needs more water, more fertiliser and more labour than your beds. As such, it’s easy to see why having a lawn is one of the costly aspects of your garden.

A stream rehabilitation project where Red Daffodil restored variable flow currents and replanted the banks with indigenous vegetation

Chris shares tips on how to create a water-wise lawn…

1. Limit the size of your lawn to what is needed: Chris says often he sees ‘dead space’ covered in grass down the sides of houses or around the corners. He says these areas are never used, but require constant mowing and watering. He says homeowners should use gravel areas or turn these spaces into water-wise shrubberies.

2. Consider your species of grass: Most lawns are kikuyu – its fast growth means it can handle traffic the best, but its high growth comes with high demand for water. Buffalo grass uses less than half the water and the interval between mowing is twice as long. Berea and cynodon are also more water-wise than kikuyu.

The clean lines of this house required a low maintenance garden

3. Water storage Water storage is useful to many. Chris says, however, his issue is it is limited in its effects when you need it the most. When drought conditions take hold, your storage capacity can easily be depleted, and the lack of rain means it won’t be replenished. During summer rainfalls, Chris recommends that areas like Gauteng and Natal collect water.

4. Grey water Unlike waiting for rain, you can be fairly sure that your showers and washing machines are going to be a constant, so reusing this water on your lawn is a great recycling initiative. Various companies offer different ways of achieving this too.

5. Make sure your mower isn’t set too low Harsh mowing practices expose the roots and soil to the heat, leading to greater loss of moisture. This is especially vital with buffalo lawns.

6. Water loss is not just due to heat The more wind your garden is exposed to, the more you will need to water it. Chris recommends windbreaks from walls and trees as they help address this issue. Source: Red Daffodil

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