Sustainable landscaping

Water Conservation & Sustainable Landscaping

Australia is one of the driest continents on the planet. Almost all of Australia’s major population centers suffer water shortages from time to time, and these come hand in hand with sometimes severe water restrictions. This means that we need to do whatever we can to reduce our water usage, especially in our gardens – this is one of the core concepts of sustainable landscaping.

If you’re serious about creating a truly sustainable and environmentally friendly garden, water conservation should be at the front of your mind. I know how hard it can be to plan a garden that doesn’t use much water, so I’ve put together a few tips to help get you started:

Plant Drought-Resistant Species

Australia is full of beautiful native plants. In fact, we have some of the richest plant species diversity in the world. However, for some unknown reason, native plants aren’t very common in Australian gardens.

One of the best ways to reduce your water usage is to simply plant things that don’t need a lot of water. Most of our native plants are drought tolerant, which means that they only need watering occasionally – if at all.

Choose species which are native to your local area. They will be most suited to your local environmental conditions, and they will be the most likely to grow well and provide you with a beautiful, sustainable garden!

Think About Your Gardens Topography

Even the toughest species will probably need a bit of water from time to time if you want them to look their best. When you’re planning your new garden, you can make small changes to increase your water use efficiency.

For example, don’t plant a garden which is raised above a concrete path with no barrier to prevent water simply running away. Make sure that water is contained within garden beds, and that if it has to flow somewhere, that it flows onto another garden bed. Don’t install sprinklers that are going to spray water onto a road or veranda, and think carefully about where you plant certain species.

Make Sure You’ve Got Good Soil!

A lot of people don’t realise how important it is to have high quality, water permeable soil. If your soil is highly water resistant – which many Australian soils are – then you will find that water will probably just run off your garden beds, rather than soaking in. Add a soil improver to decrease it’s water resistance, and consider replacing at least some areas with a high quality soil.

Final Word

Water conservation is a huge issue that we, as sustainable gardeners, have to be aware of. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to craft a beautiful outdoor space which is both environmentally friendly and water saving. Plant native species, think about your garden’s layout and consider replacing water repellent soils.

October 26, 2018

Underwater Sculptures

Renowned sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has a series of limited edition prints, sculptures and films on display in an exhibition at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York June 30 to July 28, 2012.

Some of his underwater sculptures are true masterpieces. Using high strength pH-neutral cement and tensile stainless steel coral anchoring points; The Phoenix is the first kinetic sculpture in the MUSA Cancun collection. Based on a female form, her wings are propagated with living purple fan coral that continuously moves back and forth underwater, filtering nutrients from the water column. The fan coral is often naturally uprooted and dislodged during strong storms and this coral was from rescued fragments found on nearby sand bars. The sculpture is orientated into the prevailing current and the wings of the Phoenix appears to beat with the natural cycle of the waves.


May 26, 2012

Seed Bomb Fashion

New York designers Brooklyn Industries and GreenAid have a new weapon to sow wild plants everywhere with their Seed Bomb Bracelets.

Using eco-friendly twine and three clay/compost beads loaded with wildflowers, when you throw your bracelet onto some urban earthy land, you might just be spreading some happiness along with some wild urban flowers.

May 18, 2012

Vegan Toilet Paper

Most people keep politics out of the bedroom, but how about the bathroom? People For The Ethical Treatment (PETA) have come up with a rather unusual way to grab people’s attention when they are sitting on the toilet. The often controversial animal rights’ organization has created an anti-meat toilet paper designed to raise awareness about the reality of meat production.

“Because of the filthy conditions on factory farms and the fact that slaughterhouse floors and fishing boats are often contaminated with feces, blood, and vomit, a great deal of meat is tainted with dangerous intestinal bacteria by the time it reaches the family dinner table,” explains PETA of their toilet paper.

PETA donates the toilet paper to communities and even government offices that are running low on paper and/or maybe they neglected to adequately budget for toilet paper in their yearly finances.

May 17, 2012

The Rainbow Machine

The Rainbow, a creation by artist and professor Michael Jones McKean, literally bathes The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, in Omaha, Nebraska in a shower of natural color.

In an exhibit entitled The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms Project. The human made rainbow illuminates the Bemis Center twice per day for 20 minutes, using rainwater harvested using expertise and hardware provided by Lindsay Corporation and Watertronics. McKean’s work emphasizes “….the placeless, celebratory, seductive and elusive qualities of Mother Nature’s spectacular rainbow”.

The rainbow is created using captured stormwater that is filtered and stored in six above-ground, 10,500 gallon (39,750 liter) water tanks. A 60hp (45kW) pump, powered by renewable energy, pressurizes the water in nine nozzles mounted to the 20,000sq.ft. (1,860sq.m) roof. The rainbow itself, dependent upon the angle of the sun and the weather conditions, can be seen from over 1000ft (330m) away, or from very  close up.

May 17, 2012

Mini Bonsai Sculptures

Japanese artist and illustrator Takanori Aiba, creates incredibly detailed miniature worlds, combining miniature bonsai sculptures with a vivid imagination and dedication to detail.

With a lifelong love of the miniature and detail, and from playing with bonsai and railway models as a child, Aiba created mini-stories set in imaginary worlds which he sculpted as an adult by applying his experience in illustrating 3D mazes and learning about civil construction. Much of his inspiration came from watching ants build their colonies and from Disney fantasy story-telling.

Aiba creates multiple drawings to visualize his sculptures and his technician Kazuya Murakami makes them using clay, plastic, wood, steel, resin and plaster. Each work takes months to a year to make depending on their complexity.


March 18, 2012

BC’s Endangered Forests

Cortes Island old growth appears to be the next in a series of controversial logging disputes to plague the BC coast in 2012. Most, but not all, of the trouble stems from logging of rare old growth pockets still standing, and/or the unregulated logging of the private forest land created with the two million acre (3,125 sq.mile or 8,094sq.kms) E & N Railway land grant of the 1870s. (See The Great Land Grab in Hul’qumi’num Territory,). All of it is aggravated by the remote foreign ownership of access to most of BC’s forests.

Sierra Club BC’s analysis (Restoring the Balance, January 2011) shows that logging of old-growth rainforest ecosystems has seriously compromised species habitat and carbon storage capacity. More than two million hectares (7,722 sq.mile or 20,000sq.kms) of rainforest ecosystems on BC’s coast, mostly on Vancouver Island and on the South Coast, have less than 30 per cent old growth remaining and are considered to be at high risk of species extinction. Vancouver Island alone has lost more than one million hectares of productive old growth rainforest (3,861 sq.mile or 10,000sq.kms), representing the loss of approximately 100 million tons of carbon storage.


February 24, 2012

Austria’s Submerged Park

The Green Lake near the Hochschwab Mountains, Tragoess, Styria, Austria is home to a peculiar park, one that you can walk through during the winter but must swim through in the summer.

During the winter the park is dry and the lake is very shallow, while a snow pack thickens on the mountain, but as summer temperatures melt the snow, the park gets covered by a 10m deep (32ft) crystal clear lake.

Scuba divers can sit on park benches that are completely submerged, along with small bridges, trees and bushes, providing a surreal diving experience.

February 21, 2012

Tree Ring Record Player

German artist and inventor Bartholomäus Traubeck has created an amazing record player that allows you to play the growth rings of sliced tree trunks. Created from an old record player, with a few new innovations added (including a PlayStation Eye Camera, stepper motor and a computer), Traubeck’s design allows tree lovers to ‘hear’ the sound of the inner workings of a tree.

The music is rather lovely, listen here:

January 21, 2012

Mini Pothole Gardens

London-based guerrilla pothole artist Pete Dungey, in conjunction with artist Steve Wheen, has created some amazing tiny garden installations in the cracks and crannies of Oxford’s pothole-filled streets.

With a desire to draw attention to the lack of greenspaces in urban environments, as well as highlight the growing pothole problem, the artists have created mini dirt worlds complete with a variety of plants, tennis courts, picnic blankets and even mini lawn chairs.

January 21, 2012

Imaginative Living Art

Germany-based creative artist Walter Mason develops his artwork in nature, using leaves, trees, plants and water to create impermanent but thoughtful and powerful artistic visions.

Mason also creates intriguing structural art, in contrast to his nature-based work, such as his marble tracks.

January 10, 2012

Strange Seedpod Faces

These rather unusual looking seedpods are the work of Missouri-based artist Kelsey Pike’s Sustainable Papercraft. Made from recycled paper pulp and shaped into tiny faces, the artist reminds us that each tiny pod contains seeds that will grow into living plants. The seedpod faces vary in age, gender and race, with each filled with edible organic heirloom sprouts.


“To grow, simply soak in water for an hour or so, then place on top of soil, outside or in a pot. Within five days, you should have a little crop of sprouts to eat,” explains the artists’ website.

January 10, 2012