Watering your garden

Permanent Water Saving Rules


In March 2011 the Victorian Government
announced a state-wide review of Permanent
Water Saving Rules and new rules were
introduced from 16 December 2011.

There is a set of five simple rules that apply
at all times when water restrictions are
not in place.

The major changes for our region are watering
times for watering systems are now between
6pm and 10am on any day.

Please read the five simple rules that follow
for more information.




> Five Simple Rules

1. Hand-Held Hose

Water from a hand-held
hose must not be used for
any purpose (whether or
not the use is subject to a
PWSR) at any time unless
the hose:
> is fitted with a trigger
nozzle; and
> is leak free.


2. Residential or Commercial Gardens
and Lawns

A residential or
commercial garden or
lawn area can only
be watered:
> with a hand-held hose,
bucket or watering can
at any time; or
> by means of a watering
system between the hours of 6pm and 10am
on any day.


3. Public Gardens, Lawns
and Playing Surfaces

A public garden, lawn or
playing surface can only
be watered:
> with a hand-held hose,
bucket or watering can
at any time; or
> by means of a watering
system fitted with a rain or
soil moisture sensor between the hours of
6pm and 10am on any day; or
> in accordance with an approved
Water Use Plan.


4. Fountains and Water Features

Water can only be used in a
fountain or a water feature
where water is recirculated.





5. Cleaning of hard surfaces

Water can only be used to
clean hard surfaces:
> where cleaning is required
as a result of an accident,
fire, health hazard, safety
hazard or other
emergency; or
> if staining to the surface
has developed and then only once a season; or
> in the course of construction or renovation,
And then only by means of a high pressured water
cleaning device or if not available, a hand-held
hose or bucket.


> Further Information

Permanent Water Saving Rules page on
Coliban Water website



Water is a precious resource that should
always be used as efficiently as possible. By
following the guidelines set out in this booklet
you could halve the amount of water used on
your garden.


When to water
Over-watering and other incorrect methods of
watering are responsible for a large number
of plant losses, as well as the waste of our



Check the soil first
Always check under your mulch to see if the
soil is dry before watering. Often the mulch
looks dry on top, but underneath it can still
be quite moist. Also, by putting off watering
as long as possible you train the plants to put
their roots down deep in search of water.

A simple test is to take a handful of soil from
where you think you need to water and roll it
into a ball in the hand. If it adheres together
then there is usually adequate moisture for
plant growth. If the soil falls apart when
rolling it into a ball then there is usually
insufficient moisture.

Check the weather report before

You may well be able to put off watering if
rain is predicted in the forthcoming days, so
always check the weather forecast before
watering. In the height of summer it is better
to water prior to a forecast hot day, rather
than water during hot weather. This is much
more efficient and reduces the stress on



Change your watering to suit the

Remember too, that water requirements
change with the seasons. You will need to
water much less in autumn and spring, when
cooler weather means less evaporation
and less plant growth, as well as periods of
natural rainfall. In winter the only watering
you will probably need to do might be plants
in pots, and some gardens in areas missed
by natural rain, like under the eaves of the

Don’t water in the middle of the day

Never water in the middle of the day as it
can burn plants, and most of the water will
be lost in evaporation. In fact, under the new
Permanent Water Saving Rules watering with
sprinkler, micro-spray, drip or other system
is only allowed on alternate days before
10am and after 5pm. With hand-watering
these times also make waterwise sense. A
copy of the Permanent Water Saving Rules is
included on page 12.

The best time to water is either late at night
or early in the morning. There will be little
evaporation at this time, so the water gets a
chance to really soak in.


Photo courtesy Macdonalds Plants Plus Nursery.






How to water

It is important that any water you apply to
your garden actually gets to the part of the
plant that needs it: the roots.

Slow and deep watering is best

Water should be delivered at a rate that
the soil can absorb. That is, never water
to the point where water is running off the
surface. If the water runs off the soil almost
immediately you start watering then you will
need to work on the soil’s ability to take in
and retain moisture. See the section on soils
for tips on improving your soil.

It is important to make sure that the water
is getting deep into the soil. After watering
you might even want to dig a small hole to
check how far the water has penetrated. The
idea of deep watering is to make sure that
the plants’ roots grow down into the soil. In
this way they become used to searching for
moisture deeper in the ground.

Plants that are used to shallow watering
will keep their roots close to the surface.
This means they are more likely to die when
watering is reduced.


Make your plants less water

Try gradually increasing the length of time
between watering. You may be surprised
to find that most plants will survive quite
happily on much less water than you have
been applying. This technique will also
show you the water requirements of various
plants, allowing you to shift them into the
appropriate watering zone.

An effective way to keep garden watering
to a minimum is to allow established
ornamental gardens to become moderately
water stressed. Moderate stress to many
ornamental plants will not cause problems,
and may actually help reduce diseases that
can be found in over-wet gardens.

Put the water where the plants need it

Remember to water the root area of the
plant and not the leaves. Watering this way
will also help reduce the incidence of fungal
diseases among your plants.




Watering and soil types

Water will readily penetrate a good soil and
fill-up the pore spaces between the soil
particles. The depth of water penetration
depends upon the soil type and structure.
For example, when 2 cm of water is applied
to soil (excluding run-off) the following results
will occur:
• sandy soil will be penetrated by
approximately 20 cm;
• loam soils will be penetrated by
approximately 10 to 15 cm; and
• clay soils will be penetrated by
approximately 5 to 10 cm.

The wetting pattern also changes, with the
water in clay soils tending to spread out
horizontally, while minimum horizontal spread
occurs in sandy soils.

If the average root depth of most plantings
is 30 to 40 cm, then approximately 6 cm of
water must be applied to reach this depth in
an average loam soil.



Watering systems

A well-designed automatic or semi-automatic
watering system can help create an efficient,
waterwise and attractive garden. An ideal
watering system is one that will deliver water
directly to the plants’ roots in the required
quantity needed by those specific plants.
Gardens need to be set-up in such a way
that plants with similar watering needs are
grouped together to enable efficient watering.
It is important that different watering systems
should be on different lines. That is, don’t
mix drippers with sprayers on the same line
as they deliver water at different rates.

Dripper systems

Drip-watering systems are by far the most
efficient way to water a garden, and are
preferred over other watering systems. The
multiple benefits of drip-watering include
the fact that no water is lost to wind-drift.
Water is also delivered at a slow rate, which
means little or no run-off. As the foliage
of plants does not get water on it there is
much reduced incidence of fungus diseases
on the leaves. Drippers require much less
water pressure than other systems, so larger
areas can be watered at the one time. Drip
watering is also the way that greywater must
be delivered when used on a garden.


Sprayers and sprinklers

Sprinklers and sprayers that deliver water in
large droplets are best if you water with these
devices. Fine spray that comes from many
sprinklers, and micro-sprays in particular, is
easily carried by the wind away from where
the water is meant to go. They also tend to
wet the foliage, and can thus increase the
incidence of fungal disease. Keep the sprays
low to avoid this, and also to deliver the
water to the root zone where it will be used.


When hand-watering with a hose always use
a nozzle with a flow shut-off device, such
as a trigger. Remember to turn the hose off
at the tap as well as at the nozzle. This will
prevent water-waste if the nozzle should leak
or even blow off the end of the hose. Use a
nozzle that will deliver the water gently and
in larger droplets to avoid wind-drift. Long
watering ‘wands’ are useful for getting the
water close to the ground.

Similarly, watering cans should have a rose
that allows the water to be applied gently.
Buckets are probably best avoided as the
rapid delivery of the water usually means it
just runs off the surface rather than soaking



Controlling watering

Various types of garden water controllers
help take the guesswork out of watering and
can save water and money. Water controllers
can be manual, fixed program or variable
program timers. These devices are usually
available at hardware and irrigation outlets.
Of course every hose should be fitted with
a flow shut-off device such as a trigger
nozzle. A simple tap-timer will make sure the
hose switches off after a set period of time.
Automatic controllers can be programmed
to maximise the efficiency of your system.
Remember to change the settings as the
seasons change, as less water is needed in
autumn and spring.

Remember too, that all automatic watering
systems installed from 1 July 2006 must
have a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor
as part of their control system. Even if your
automatic system was installed before 1
July 2006 it is easy to have one of these
devices fitted, and they will save you water.
They work by preventing a system coming
on when there has been rain, or the soil is
still moist. For example, if you have your
system set to come on every seven days and
the device detects plenty of soil moisture
or recent rain on day seven it will tell the
controller not to come on for another seven







Checking how much water is delivered

You should check to see how much water
your lawn or garden beds are receiving
during an irrigation period. You can simply
do this by putting a few containers within the
sprinkler area or under drippers to catch the
water. Time how long it takes to deliver 10
to 15 cm of water into the container as this
should be adequate for a good watering for
most loamy soils. This will help you set a limit
for your watering times.

For further information on watering and soil
types, please refer to notes on page 16 to
work out more accurate watering times for
different soil types. In addition, it is a good
idea to dig a hole in your soil to see how
far the water has penetrated after you have





Alternative water sources

In our dry climate it is definitely worth
considering using alternative sources for your
garden water.

Rainwater tanks

Consider installing a rainwater tank to collect
water for use on the garden. Nowadays
tanks come in a wide range of sizes and
colours to suit every situation. There are even
‘bladder’ style tanks that can be positioned
underneath a house that is on stumps. If you
are considering using a hose or irrigation
system from your tank you will need to
have a power-point nearby to run a pump.
Information on rainwater tank guidelines and
the State Government’s rebate is available
from Coliban Water.



Greywater is the waste water from the
laundry, kitchen and bathrooms, and while it
can be a great help in helping your garden
survive in dry times, it must be used with
caution. Below are some greywater dos
and don’ts. For more information check
the Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
guidelines on its website www.epa.vic.gov.au

Coliban Water

City of Greater Bendigo

Coliban Water

37-45 Bridge Street,
Bendigo VIC
ABN 96 549 082 363