A well-designed irrigation system delivers the right amount of water where it's needed. A large multi-zoned system may need professional installation, but drip-line irrigation is a straightforward D.I.Y. project.
One of the foundations of sustainable gardening is selecting the right plants. Try these dry-garden winners.
Even the best soil can have issues with water absorption. “Many water problems start at the surface of the soil – water can't penetrate and runs off,” says Mark Ellis from garden products suppliers Scotts Australia. Wetting agents, which come in liquids or granules, change the surface tension of water, allowing it to better penetrate the soil and reach plant roots.
A more labour-intensive fix is to dig in soil improvers such as compost or composted manures, improving the soil structure and increasing biological activity, which will naturally boost water-holding capacity. Mulching will help retain moisture in the soil and reduce run-off, while also diminishing soil erosion, suppressing weeds and insulating against temperature extremes. Spread your chosen mulch around 4cm thick and keep it at least 5cm away from plant stems or trunks.
To get started, check out your local Bunnings, speak to one of our experts for more advice, and have a look at the range of water-saving products.
Greywater – indoor wastewater excluding that from toilets – can be reused via a simple dispersal device, but with caution. Greywater may contain bacteria and viruses, so don't use it on edible plants. Always disperse greywater above ground, as sunlight will sterilise the water to some degree. Never disperse it using a system that allows the water to mist. The trick is not to distribute too much to one area – waterlogging can occur and overload the soil with ingredients found in detergents. Check with your local council before using greywater, as many have tight restrictions on use, particularly in suburban areas.
Michael Smit, technical and sustainability manager at Kingspan Water & Energy, suggests rainwater harvesting as one of the most accessible ways to improve your home's sustainability. “It also reduces the impact of increased population growth and climate change on urban stormwater, improving local waterway health and reducing flooding risks and costs,” he says.
Rainwater tanks are a pretty simple retrofit, but you will need specialised advice and then tradie help to plumb one in and organise the pump system. A 5000-litre tank is the minimum useful size for an average garden – you'll need a larger one if you want to connect to the laundry and toilet cisterns as well.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.