We’re in trouble, guys. It seems this water thing is kind of serious. Especially if you consider last year’s water restrictions (which we all [me] complained bitterly about) saw us limited to two garden watering days a week, between specific hours, but this year, we’re not allowed to water AT ALL.

I’m not the world’s biggest gardening enthusiast. Not by a long shot. But I am rather fond of our lawn. And I had a veggie garden that I was proud of. I say HAD because, well, it’s a wasteland at the moment. Apart from one determined onion plant and an out of control rosemary bush, everything has died. It’s really sad, and while all I want to do is nip out to the nursery and buy more seedlings, I know I shouldn’t, because watering them enough to keep them thriving will be a problem.

And our lawn? Well…


Apart from one desperate covert 10 minutes with the hose late one night, during which I felt like an outright criminal, I’ve stuck to the “no hose” rule. A couple of days ago I tried using a bucket. We don’t have the biggest lawn, but it’s far too large to use a bucket successfully. So day by day, the grass is getting more and more yellow/brown/threadbare.

I’ve read articles about “oh, just pave over it – who needs grass anyway?” Two things: We have a dog and imagine how hideous it’ll be for poor Polony to spend summer out on concrete (never mind the resultant dog poo and wee issues). And secondly, is anyone going to volunteer to pay for said paving for us? Sure, I could just let the garden return to sand, but with the wind that whips through our neighbourhood, that won’t be fun for anyone. (And a third thing for free: The little bit of reading I’ve done so far suggests that grass is great for filtering carbon dioxide and other impurities in the air, producing oxygen and improving ground water quality.)

Upshot is, yeah I have to give up on having a wonderfully healthy lawn, but I also don’t want to lose it completely. I need to find a way to both save water and not live in a dust bowl.

A while back when the City sent everyone letters telling them to reduce consumption, we did. Our water bill has been zero for the past five or six months. But it seems not enough people have done the same, or perhaps just telling people to cut back and relying on them to tattle tale on their neighbours is not a good enough solution.

So what else can I do right now, apart from complain bitterly? Well, just like I recycle even though I know my effort alone won’t save the planet, I AM trying to save water. At the moment, that takes the form of much shorter showers and no baths (sob). But I’m also trying to reduce the amount of water that goes down the drain after just one use. It takes a little dexterity, but I shower with a bucket at my feet now and that water (even though it’s not nearly enough) goes onto the grass. And I’m washing dishes in a bucket and pouring that water out onto the garden as well.

I don’t for one second think I’ll have a lush garden again, but at least it’ll be getting a little water over the next few months. If I can just keep it clinging on till Autumn it should be okay.

The thing is, we all need to start taking the water situation far more seriously than we do. We’ve been without water in our neighbourhood for a few days before, and it was utterly hideous. No showers, no coffee, no washing dishes or clothes, no flushing toilets… guys, it wasn’t pretty. And that was just three days. Imagine it gets to the point where we’re without water for weeks at a time…



3 thoughts on “Parched

  1. One thing you can do is eventually looking at a grey water system that runs off your bath & sinks. Also, see about connecting your downpipes from the roof to a reservoir of some sort (or just arrange so that it runs out onto the lawn as I’ve seen some folks do). And of course you can look at planting some indigenous plants along the edges, like aloes, cotyledons, restios, haworthias, euphorbias and the like. The next time you visit me, let me give you some cuttings.

    Our lawn looks like this as well, but it always bounces back during winter. The other alternative is to look at which indigenous grasses you can plant. Kirstenbosch may be able to advise in this respect.

  2. Great suggestions, thanks! Definitely going to look into those grey water systems in the next few days. And my next trip to the nursery will be all about water-wise indigenous plants.

    • You may want to also look at what sorts of fynbos is indigenous to your area. I’m thinking it may well be Strandveld, which means there are quite a few restios that will make lovely feature plants, as well as assorted bulbs that will add colour at different times of the year.

      Remember also that trees like wild camphor, milkwood and silver oak will do well by you (despite wind), and you can most certainly get away with planting at least one of them. You can also water feature plants by hand with a bucket or watering can.

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