Waterwise Gardens bark

A word about irrigation

A common mistake is to select plants that are labelled “drought resistant” and expect them to live from the start without water. While some species will survive, if planted as small specimens in the autumn and supported by a rainy winter, most will need some water in their first year or two.

However, this should be infrequent, deep watering, and preferably not with sprinklers, which leave the foliage humid and can be a quick way to kill many Mediterranean plants. Our preferred method is to shape the earth into a watering basin around the plant and water by hand with a hose, once a fortnight. This delivers water evenly and only to the rootzone of the desired plant, and not to the weeds nearby.

For larger projects, this may not be practical, and dripline or microtube irrigation is an alternative, but the irrigation must be infrequent (never more than once a week) and in sufficient volume to penetrate deep into the soil profile.

Then there are the complications which come from particularities of soil texture and structure. A garden on rich red clay may be difficult to work with, but has far greater water-retaining capacity. One garden we know in Silves has never been watered; autumn plantings with small plants and a deep gravel mulch together with the clay soil were sufficient to maintain a cool and humid root zone through the summer.

By contrast, a different approach will be necessary for gardens on sandy soil. Water in this situation drains very freely and it is even more important to plant early in the autumn, to take advantage of natural rainfall and allow plants to get their roots down deep.

Whatever your situation, we are able to make an analysis and offer the right solution.