Water wise concepts crucial in landscape design

Water wise concepts crucial in landscape design

Projects entered into five of the six categories for the annual South African Landscape Institute (SALI) Awards of Excellence are now automatically reviewed against the principles of water wise best practice.

Cape Town’s, Peninsula Landscaping was awarded a Double Gold for water wise landscaping excellence in the 2019 SALI Awards of Excellence.
* The first SALI Gold Award was for the ‘Best Landscape Construction with Design by Others’ category for landscape construction at Steenberg Green, an upmarket housing estate in Cape Town;
* A second SALI Gold Award for the same project – Steenberg Green – in the water wise category.

Water Wise Winner: A view across flowering red hot pokers at Steenberg Gardens, Cape Town.

Most importantly, the Steenberg Green landscaping project in Cape Town received the Rand Water Trophy for the Best Water Wise Entry at the 2019 National SALI Awards of Excellence.

This prestigious annual national award aims to highlight the important use of water principles in the design, construction and maintenance of landscapes across the country.

With a greater awareness for water wise best practice in landscapes, a number of aspects had to be addressed during the design stages of the Steenberg Green project, executed by OvP Associates (Pty) Ltd, who were appointed landscape architects on the site.

In addition to the installation of a borehole with an automatic irrigation system and a rain sensor, what other important aspects of water wise landscaping practices were considered for this award-winning project?

Norah de Wet of Peninsula Landscaping explained that a water meter was installed to measure and monitor water usage in the landscaped areas.

Plants were carefully selected, zoned and mulched and the site was rainscaped. These are cost-effective for suburban gardeners to implement in their own gardens.

Steenberg Green received a SALI Double Gold Award and the national Water Wise Trophy.

The Steenberg Green project reflects the very best of professional water wise landscaping in South Africa.

What tips can you take from this project … for your garden? Consider your plant choices, zone plants, add lots of mulch and focus on rainscaping your landscape.

• Plant choices

Choose plants endemic to your area. These are plants that are best suited to local conditions and rainfall. An interesting palette of plants was supplied for Steenberg Green, from a variety of bulbs to groundcovers, restios, sedges, shrubs and trees.

Some of the plants used included: the thread-leaf klaas (Athanasia crithmifolia), panic veldt grass (Ehrharta erecta), white carpet (Falkia repens), common thatching grass (Hyparrhenia hirta), Selago ‘Richard’, African flax (Linum africanum), vygie (Ruschia macowanii), red hot pokers (Kniphofia praecox) and K. uvaria and the cobweb bush (Plectostachyus serpyllifolia).

Coastal silver oak (Brachylaena discolour)

• Zoning of plants

Plan planting zones for your garden, where plants with similar water requirements are grouped together.

At Steenberg Green, plants were zoned in thicket plantings, comprising of bushy small trees which provides privacy and screening; wetland planting along channels and detention ponds; groundcover on a higher area with good drainage and mixed grasses and cynodon lawn areas.

Thicket planting screens parts of the property to provide privacy for future homeowners. Small shrubby trees used in these areas include coastal silver oak (Brachylaena discolour), bladder-nut (Diospyros whyteana), wild olive (Olea europaea subsp. Africana) and camphor bush (Tarchonanthus camphoratus).

• Mulch

Mulch beds to ensure deep penetration of water and to limited evaporation. Grass cuttings and pruned material are now retained on the site and converted to compost mulch. Start a compost heap for your garden.

Red hot pokers (Kniphofia uvaria)

• Rainscaping

The landscape at Steenberg Green was designed to capture rainwater with berms and swales, directing the water thought a detention pond and wetland area, which overflows to another detention pond in the central area.

Should flooding occur once the second pond fills, the water runs down a channel planted up with indigenous grasses (Cynodon species) into a deeper detention pond close to the entrance of the site.

A water culvert also directs water to a detention pond on site, thus preventing loss of storm water. Any excessive water can be directed into storm water channels.

Following the lead of professional landscapers such as Peninsula Landscaping, local gardeners can use berms and swales to direct rainwater into a pond or mini wetland that recharges ground water and provides a habitat for small animals and attracts birds to the garden.

Wild flax (Linum africanum)

For information, contact Peninsula Landscaping at +27 21 715 7046/7 or penland@saol.com