When a diseased pine tree in their backyard had to be removed, a West Pymble family decided to use the opportunity to try xeriscaping. Julie and Paul and their two boys are now relishing the new life in their energy and water efficient garden.
What is xeriscaping?
Paul: It’s a way of landscaping which minimises water usage through design. It’s perfect for arid and semi-arid climates and is a way to drought-proof your garden.
Tell us about the changes you made
Julie: It’s now a native garden and that means there is always something flowering which makes the dry look interesting. The plants attract all kinds of birds and insects and my oldest son has been attempting to propagate some of the more vulnerable native species like the leafless rock wattle.
Paul: I enjoyed repurposing some of the unused materials we had around the house to make decorate the garden and create interesting focal points.
We used an old kitchen sink to make a pond, turned a pallet into a vertical garden, and used an old electric cooktop and a wheelbarrow like pots.
Did you always have so many ponds?
Julie: The ponds soften the xeriscaped dry look so they have been added as part of the change. The gurgling water of the koi fish pond also has a cooling and calming impact that I really love.
Paul: We added a raingarden now in the front yard. Its job is to slow the rush of rainwater from our property into the stormwater system. This allows the polluted first flush from the driveway and front yard to seep slowly through stone and gravel beds before it goes on its way.
Working with a hot house
Paul: Our house is more than 60 years old and due to design and orientation received little winter sun, and can be too hot in parts during summer.
We wanted to make it more energy and water efficient too, so we installed retractable awnings, both manual and motorised, and a home ventilation system that senses the temperature in rooms and the roof space and automatically adjusts heating and cooling.
Julie: Old houses like ours can get musty but we don’t have much of coughs and colds since this has been installed. The air is cleaner as it goes through a HEPA filter system. We can replace the filter easily. We also installed vent fans under the house that run on a transformer. These keep the air underneath dry to discourage termites.