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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Going waterwise with my new native plants

Credit: Adam.J.W.C.

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As part of my ongoing commitment to saving water, this summer I’ve replanted three sections of my garden with native plants. It took a couple of weekends to get it done, but if I’d been more organised I reckon we could have done it in one day.

The three sections weren’t large, but they were all visible to our neighbours - one alongside our communal driveway, and two more around our single carport. They used to have a mish-mash of different types of plants: some roses, some lavender, an unusual ground-cover and some trendy mondo grasses. The roses hardly wanted any water at all, but needed more pruning than we have time for. The lavender didn’t like the shady spot it was in, and the grasses and ground-cover were too thirsty.

So out they came one Sunday afternoon. The lavender has been moved closer to the vegie patch, where it’ll get more sun and hopefully will be a good companion plant. In theory, it’s scent should confuse the insects that want to eat our vegies! I’ll let you know how that works out.

The next weekend we spent Saturday afternoon at a local native nursery (Zanthorrea, if you’re in Perth I highly recommend them) and asked for advice on what to plant for a waterwise and low-maintenance garden. The very helpful assistant asked us how much room we had and how much sun was reaching the area, then picked out several different plants for us to try. She also gave us excellent advice on how to plant them to give them the best chance of surviving.

It was very educational, and I’m so glad we asked an expert. When we tackle the back yard I’m going to take a photo of the area we’re trying to improve, to make it easier for them to give advice.

The next day we got up early to beat the sun and started digging holes, putting in water-absorbing crystals, getting the plants in there and finally adding mulch. We’ve now got a lovely bunch of grevillias and kangaroo paws along the driveway, some shrubs with pretty pink-orange flowers along the carport, and a lovely climbing plant to go on a trellis behind our birdbath. We’re hoping these will also attract native birds to our garden too.

All the new plants are natives with low water requirements. This year we’re hand-watering once a week in addition to our standard water-roster days. But if we treat them right now so they get well-established, then next year we won’t have to water them at all. By thinking long-term for Australia’s water future, we’re getting a pretty and easy-to-care-for garden as well!