If you want to install an automatic irrigation system, install one with a rain sensor. These devices monitor or respond to soil moisture and prevent the controller from switching the irrigation on. Rain sensors vary in price, but a good one is less than $100.
Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and manure to the soil to improve water retention, plant health and soil structure. This is one of the most important steps in making your garden drought-tolerant. Remember, the healthier your plants are, the more likely they are to withstand drought conditions. Water your plants in early evening or night, reducing loss by evaporation. About 60% of water is lost if you use fine sprays during the heat of the day – the water either never touches the soil or quickly evaporates as it does.
Hand watering can be both relaxing and efficient, especially if you have a trigger nozzle which only allows water to leave the hose when it is pressed. Undertake regular maintenance. While automatic watering systems allow you to devote time and energy elsewhere, if you do not occasionally check the system, you may be pouring money down the drain. Breaks, leaks, broken fittings and split pipes are common mishaps and much water can be wasted especially if irrigation is under pressure.
As seasons change so does the watering requirements of your plants. You may find that watering one day a week is all that is needed during autumn and spring, and then maybe twice-a-week during summer, as permitted by the Water Corporation, for most garden plants.
We can still enjoy lush gardens; it just involves common sense, adequate soil conditions and suitable reticulation equipment.