One of the biggest challenges facing gardeners in Perth are the long hot summers and water restrictions. It is tempting to forgo the garden for paving or synthetic turf, however lawns and gardens provide many benefits for the homeowner. Lawns and foliage can reduce the temperature around the home and act as air conditioners.
A garden creates an eco-system and healthy environment for beneficial wildlife such as bees and butterflies and can provide us humans with a place to relax or play. If you are the owner of an ATU system you can take advantage of wastewater the system recycles to reticulate ornamental gardens and lawn. (it is not recommended that Black water is used for food gardens) There are a few things to consider when planning your ATU reticulated garden.
- The volume of wastewater output of the ATU system will determine the size of the area you are able to reticulate and the plant choices, a large output may be able to support a lawn and exotic plant choices whereas a smaller output of water may be more suited to water wise, drought tolerant plant choices. The volume of the ATU output is directly related to the number of people using the facilities.
- When using Black water from your ATU system you will need to use subsoil irrigation, dripper hose or an allowable sprinkler head. Subsoil irrigation and dripper hose has the advantage of reducing evaporation many plants prefer to be watered at the root zone opposed to overhead watering that can often cause fungal conditions.
- Avoid planting Phosphorus sensitive plants – The water that comes from your ATU system may contain high levels of nutrients such as Phosphorus and Salts. Examples of phosphorus sensitive plants include members of the Proteaceae family such as Banksia, Grevillea and Hakea species. To reduce the levels of salts and phosphorus in wastewater use recommended laundry and detergent products. However, some native plants such as westringia, hardenbergia violacea, geralton wax and some acacia species will tolerate low levels of phosphorus in the water.
Here are some suggestions for plants to grow in your garden that are suited to Perth’s climate and can be irrigated with ATU recycled water.
- Lavender – a beautiful and easy to grow perennial Mediterranean plant. Used for centuries for medicinal and beauty purposes,
- Scented geraniums – scented geraniums are usually grown for their foliage. Crush their leaves between your fingers and you'll smell peppermint, lime, rose, ginger, nutmeg, orange, cinnamon, lemon balm, apple, sweet lemon, and the list goes on.
- Blue Salvias – Blue flowering salvias are magnets for the Bee’s so great to grow nearby to vegetable patches to ensure your fruit and vegetables get pollinated.
- Rosemary – A tough Mediterranean herb that can be grown to form a dense hedge Calendula – An easy to grow annual that will self-seed and provide vibrant colour in the garden. The petals and leaves can also be brewed into a tea and used as a natural pest repellent in the vegetable garden.
Laura Blishen runs Thrive Sustainability an online store providing for all your garden needs including fruit trees, vegetable seedlings, seeds and organic pest and disease solutions. The other aspect of the business offers educational workshops and hands on help to those wanting to set up their own edible gardens. The main aspiration of Thrive Sustainability is to educate and inspire people to grow more of their own food and live a more sustainable life. www.thrivesustainability.com.au