Sydney Water Restriction Gardening Tips


When water restrictions are introduced into urban areas, many people feel concern about how they will grow and maintain a beautiful garden. However, the good news is, water restrictions don’t mean you have to give up on keep plants alive but it DOES mean we have to rethink how we garden, how we “spend” available water, how we save it and finally, recycle it.

Read this article to find out our water restriction gardening tips so you can prepare your garden for limited water and ongoing drought conditions.

What’s allowed under Level 1 water restrictions?

You can

Water lawns and gardens:

  • with a watering can or bucket
  • by hand-held hose, before 10 am or after 4 pm, as long as your hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle
  • with drip irrigation systems
  • with watering systems with one or more of these features:
    • automated weather adjustment
    • rain sensor
    • soil moisture sensor
  • water new turf for one week after it’s delivered as long as you follow the instructions provided by the turf supplier

You can’t

  • use standard sprinklers and watering systems at any time
  • leave hoses and taps running unattended

Source: Sydney Water

Our Top 4 Water-Wise Gardening Tips

1. Compost

Thorough soil preparation will increase your soil’s water and nutrient-holding capacity. This can be done by digging organic compost into the soil. Mulch will help to keep the temperature of the soil lower, which means it stays moist for longer as the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

TIP: Instead of sweeping or blowing leaves into the street or filling your green bin, compost them!

2. Fertilise

At this stage, you could fertilise, which will help, but it is best to do both in the spring.

Some soils are on the hydrophobic side, particularly during drought conditions. When the soil is in this state, it will be quite dry and naturally repel water. If this is the case, you may also need to add a wetting agent to help water penetrate and hold in your soil.

3. Mulch

During drought conditions, it’s very important to mulch around the garden and pot plants. Keep in mind that the finer mulch will hold more moisture better, i.e. fine pine bark is better than big chunky bark.

  • Vegetable gardens use sugar cane mulch or Lucerne
  • Pot plants you can use pebbles, which can be decorative but also help hold in the moisture

Before applying mulch, it is generally a good idea to ‘till’ or dig the soil over to create aeration, so as there is not a hard barrier between the mulch and the plant roots.

You should always be careful not to build the mulch up around the trunk of the plant as this creates ‘collar rot’. Always mulch 20-50mm from the trunk and minimum of 25–25mm deep. This also depends on the type of mulch.

Tip: In my opinion, weed control mats don’t allow the water to penetrate the soil directly and create ‘run off’.

4. Irrigation System

If you have an irrigation system, check that it is a drip system and not a spray system. Make sure that all the drippers are working and the mulch is not covering them. It is best that you set them to come on early in the morning.


Need advice about designing a drought-resistant garden?

Are you about to design your garden, courtyard or balcony? Talk to us about water restriction gardening and how you can make it drought-resistant.

We can answer your questions or even provide garden consultancy services. Give us a call to arrange a free consultation.

by Fiona Soutter