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Water-wise gardening involves using plants that require minimal water, and applying some simple water-wise gardening principles, namely:

Water-wise gardening
Watering your plants in the early morning and early evening in summer helps to avoid water loss through evaporation. (Image: Green Deen South Africa)

Growing water-wise plants
There are many attractive plants which need no additional watering once established. These are plants, such as succulents, which have fleshy leaves and stems and can store water.

Grouping plants according to their water needs
Plants have different water requirements. Grouping them according to their water needs avoids wasting water on plants that do not need it.

Consideringing the quantity and type of your lawn
Lawn uses a lot of water, therefore decide how much lawn space you want and consider planting indigenous, low-water use grass.

Maintaining your garden
Remove weeds and unwanted plants as they take water away from plants that you want to flourish. Consider planting fewer seasonal plants (annuals) and more plants which live longer (perennials).

Osteospermum ecklonis
Osteospermum ecklonis

Improving the soil
This can be done by putting in more compost. This encourages earthworm activity, aeration and water penetration.

Mulching your garden
This can be done by covering the soil with a layer of bark to help cool the soil and reduce water evaporation

Planting in the right season
It is advisable to plant in spring and early summer (August to November). At this time of the year the conditions are ideal, giving plants a chance to establish good root systems before the dry season.

Pelargonium hybrid
Pelargonium hybrid

Watering correctly
Watering depends on soil type, watering equipment, weather and plant type. In summer it is advisable to water your plants in the early morning and early evening to avoid water evaporation, and in winter to water in the late morning.

Benefits of water-wise gardening

  1. Conserves water
  2. Saves money by delaying the building of new dams
  3. Protects the environment
  4. Increases biodiversity
Strelitzia reginae
Strelitzia reginae

Some water-wise plants

  • Watsonia knysnana (Watsonia)
  • Plectranthus fruticosa (Fly bush)
  • Jasminum multipartitum (starry wild jasmine)
  • Diospyros lycioides (Transvaal blue bush)
  • Scadoxus puniceus (Bloody lilly)
  • Asparagus sp.
  • Felicia sp.
  • Eriocephalus africanus (wild rosemary)
  • Helichrysum sp.
  • Bauhinia galphinii (Pride-of-de-Kaap)
  • Plumbago auriculata (Cape leadwort)
  • Bulbine frutescens (stalked bulbine)
  • Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild pear)
  • Dias cotinifolia (Pompon tree)
  • Clivia miniata (bush lilly)
  • Dietes bicolor (yellow wild iris)
  • Eucomis sp. (pineapple lilly)
  • Portulacaria afra (Spekboom)
  • Crassula ovata (Pink joy)
  • Carpobrotus edulis (Yellow sour fig)
  • Gasteria sp.
  • Cotyledon orbiculata (Pig's ear)
  • Tulbaghia violacea (wild garlic)


1. Department of Water and Sanitation -
2. Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries -
3. South African National Botanical Institute -