Waterwise Gardens bark

Carvoeiro Garden

The garden of this hillside villa just outside Carvoeiro had been halfheartedly resoved into areas of lawn and exposed bedrock, and the owners were at a loss to understand why the garden was not thriving despite spending fortunes on irrigation.

Plants in the rock gardens had been planted on thin sloping soil, which provided little in the way of water retention in the summer. To make matters worse, the plants were a mixture of low and higher water needs; the former struggling with the irrigation and the latter not getting enough due to runoff in the sloping sections. The soil on site, nonetheless, is good, and once the rockery had been remodelled to incorporate some flat "pockets" of soil in which plants could establish more easily, and more appropriate species chosen, the garden has grown quickly in its first year.

Meanwhile, a long narrow corridor of lawn has become a Mediterranean walk, with dancing grasses and colourful herbs. At the end of the walk, another rockery houses a gallery of succulents and cacti, providing year-round interest with contrasting colours and shapes. Near the house, an overgrown border was replaced with a minimalist water feature. The irrigation system has been eliminated from all these zones, supplementary deep watering by hose being given occasionally through the first two summers.