Whether you’re tidying-up around your section, cleaning the car or watering the garden, there are loads of easy ways to use a bit less water.
Washing and cleaning jobs
Control your hose with a trigger A trigger device lets you stop and start the water flow from your hose instantly. You can direct water where you need it without wasting a drop. Turn the tap off when you've finished, otherwise the hose may spring a leak. If you want to clean paths, please use a broom.
Use a bucket of soapy water and a brush to clean your car, and a hose - with flow trigger fitted - to rinse it off. A running hose delivers about 10-15 litres per minute, so even a few minutes of unnecessary hose use - or leaving it running into the gutter - can waste a lot of water. Wash your car on the lawn if you can, so the soapy water is absorbed by the grass instead of running down the street drain and into our streams and harbours. Better still, use a commercial car wash that recycles its water
Target - aim low and slow Water close to the ground at a rate the soil can absorb. Plants take up moisture through their feeder roots and low, slow watering is the best way to get it there. Watering by hand or well designed irrigation system is best. Moveable sprinklers are the least effective for saving water.
Sweep hard surfaces, rather than hosing them clean. A broom and dustpan will get paths and driveways clean enough without wasting litres of water to chase a few twigs and leaves away.
Fix dripping taps - one drip per second from a leaking tap can add up to around 28 litres a day - which adds up to 2,500 litres every 3 months, enough to fill a skip! There are videos online on how to fix a leaking tap or toilet, but if you're in any doubt about what to do, call a plumber.
Put off outdoor cleaning jobs such as house and window washing or water-blasting until the autumn (or get them done before the end of October)
Gardening - preparation
Seasoned gardeners know that the secret to a healthy summer garden has more to do with preparation and how effectively you use water, rather than how much you use. By following these tips from experienced gardeners, your plants and lawn areas will be green, strong and healthy and you'll probably save water too.
Use mulch to retain moisture Mulch can cut evaporation by up to 70% by protecting your soil from the drying effects of wind and sun. Grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded paper, peat or straw can all make good mulch. Make sure soil is moist before mulching and leave a space of a few centimetres around trunks and stems to prevent the development of fungal diseases.
Remove weeds Weeds compete for available moisture. Mulching helps to keep weeds out.
Condition your soil to hold water Wetting agents and water storing polymers dramatically improve moisture penetration and retention in soils. These treatments need only be applied once a season. Use liquid fertilisers to promote plant growth without raising salt levels in the soil.
Know your plants Perennials and vegetables need extra water in dry periods throughout the growing season. Most other plants (e.g. trees, shrubs, and climbers) need little or no extra water once they are established. There are many attractive plant varieties well suited to dry summer weather; see Greater Wellington's Regional Native Plant Guide or ask your local nursery or garden centre for advice.
Plant in groups By grouping the plants in your garden into high or low water users, you can design a watering pattern that is better for your plants and will reduce waste of water.
Mowing Leaving 25 - 30mm of leaf will provide shade to the roots and soil, slowing water loss and protecting your lawn from sunburn. Leave clippings on the lawn as mulch, to help conserve soil moisture and put nutrients back into the soil.
Test soil moisture before watering If your soil is moist 10 centimetres below the surface, you don't need to water. Check every 4-7 days in dry weather and water only if needed.
Target - aim low and slow Water close to the ground at a rate the soil can absorb. Plants take up moisture through their feeder roots and low, slow watering is the best way to get it there. Watering by hand. Moveable sprinklers are the least effective for saving water.
Water when it's cool and calm Wind and sun can quickly steal water meant for your garden, through evaporation. Only water on calmer days, in the cool of the early morning or evening, so that the benefit of your watering last longer.
Soak, don't sprinkle Less frequent deep soakings (once or twice a week) encourage feeder roots to grow deeply in search of water. This will help your plants to survive short term drought conditions. Frequent light sprinklings of water encourage shallow roots that are more vulnerable in dry weather.
Take aim Use drippers or directional sprinkler heads with irrigation so your garden is watered, rather than your paths, fences etc.
Catch it if you can! A small moat dug around the base of a tree or shrub will give the water a chance to soak in rather than running off.
Don't over water Over-watering encourages fungus, root rot, rusts, mildew and blackspot.
Follow your city or district council's watering restrictions - they're designed to spread watering between days and give everyone a fair chance to water effectively without overloading the supply system.