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WaterRight Gardens webtool
With extended dry spells and drought conditions becoming increasingly common, protecting our valuable water resources is a top priority for many ACT households.
The WaterRight Gardens webtool is a handy piece of software which allows you to develop more accurate watering schedules for your garden, potentially saving money on your water bills in the process.
Based on the soil, vegetation and climate characteristics of Canberra's residential gardens — as well the information you provide about the specifics of your own garden — the WaterRight Gardens webtool will generate recommendations on how much water your garden really needs, and the best time to apply this water.
You can also learn more about factors that influence garden water use by referring to the WaterRight Gardens Best Practice Guidelines and fact sheets. For more information, call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or jump to the Getting Started section below.
Information contained in and provided by this WaterRight Gardens Webtool is intended as a guide only. Users of the Webtool take responsibility for investigating and understanding the current water restrictions and any other Territory requirements that may apply in the ACT when making selections on this Webtool and using information subsequently provided. The Australian Capital Territory Government will not be liable for any loss, damage, injury arising directly or indirectly from use of the Webtool and/or reliance by any party on information and/or data obtained from this Webtool. Users make use of the data available from the Webtool entirely at their own risk.
Waterwise gardening helps reduce the amount of water used to maintain a healthy garden, while maximising the use of rainfall.
If you rely totally on rainfall to maintain your garden or lawn — congratulations! — you may not need to use the WaterRight Gardens webtool.
Please also note that this webtool does not apply to:
- established trees or plants taller than two metres
- new plantings that are being established
- potted plants
- vegetable gardens and annuals
- indoor plants
For more information about plants that are not applied in this webtool, contact your local nursery.
The following documents relating to the WaterRight Gardens webtool are available for download.
Actsmart recommends always viewing documents on screen. Remember that paper production uses valuable natural resources and generates greenhouse gas emissions, while your used printer cartridges can create landfill. If you must print one or more of these documents, please remember to use recycled paper.
When should I water?
Ideally you should water early morning, late afternoon or evening. Make sure you check whether water restrictions are in place and follow the watering times permitted.
Should I check soil moisture before watering?
Yes. Before watering, check soil moisture by inserting your finger to a depth of 5 cm in each green area. If the soil is moist, defer watering.
What if it rains?
If it rains and your soil gets more water than it can hold, simply defer watering the next time. When it rains heavily, check to see if your soil has been fully penetrated. If it has, defer watering the next time. If it hasn’t, it could be because your soil is compacted and the rain runs over it rather than penetrates it. In this case, water as usual.
What if I'm using less than the recommended watering schedule?
If you’re using less water than recommended (frequency and watering time combined), keep up the good work. The best way to figure out what your garden needs is to get out there and do some trials. The schedule WaterRight Gardens recommends is our best estimate only.
Should I use topsoil?
Make your garden healthy and waterwise by adding topsoil and introducing organic material. This will help water penetrate into the plant root zone. See the Importance of soil fact sheet for more information.
When should I mow the lawn?
In Canberra’s climate, it’s difficult to maintain a perfect lawn, especially with our dry periods. You can still maximise the health of your lawn and save money by using less water. You can, for example:
- allow your lawn to grow a little longer before you mow it
- regularly aerate and top dressing your soil
- replace some lawn areas with alternatives such as paving, native grasses, groundcovers or extra garden beds.
See the Lawns and garden beds fact sheet for more information.
How do I take care of clay soils
Clay soils are prone to drying out and to water logging if drainage is poor.
Don’t allow clay soils to dry out or get compacted. You need to mulch, regularly aerate and ensure regular and deep watering (clay soils hold water for a long time).
If your soil is waterlogged you will need to improve the drainage. Use organic mulches and apply organic compost frequently. This encourages worms and other soil organisms to improve the soil by taking organic material and nutrients deeper into it. See the Importance of soil fact sheet for more information.
What is cyclic watering
This method uses pulses of water to wet the soil. The time gaps between the pulses allow the water to penetrate the soil. This limits excessive pooling or run-off. You therefore save money by using less water. See the Irrigation methods fact sheet for more information.
What alternative water sources can I use?
It’s smart to look into alternative sources of water. Some can save you money and they’re kinder on the environment.
See the Sources of water fact sheet for more information.