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Ideas for saving water in the garden

About this lesson

Students work in groups using a placemat activity to research how to save water in the garden and produce a presentation for the class.

Year level: 4, 5

Theme: Water conservation

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • identify ways of saving water in the garden
  • work in a group to research an area of water conservation in the garden
  • create a representation of their top five findings and present to the class.

Curriculum links

Humanities and social sciences (geography)

  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably ACHASSK090
  • Present ideas, findings and conclusions in texts and modes that incorporate digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms ACHASSI082
  • Present ideas, findings, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of texts and modes that incorporate source materials, digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms and conventions ACHASSI105


  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations incorporating learned content and taking into account the particular purposes and audiences ACELY1689
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements ACELY1700

Things you will need

  • A3 plain paper
  • Different coloured marker pens
  • Computers with internet access

Lesson description


  • As a class discuss what the term ‘sustainable’ means and create a definition.
  • Explain why we need to save water including the fact that in Perth households are the biggest users of public water (using 70%) and 44% of this water is used outside the home. We therefore need to find ways to save water in the garden.
  • Watch the video Garden Gurus: saving water around the garden & home (3:14).
  • Divide students into 9 groups and have them research how they can save water in the garden. Allocate each group a different subject to focus on: waterwise plants, alternative sources of water, garden design, creating a waterwise verge, efficiently watering your garden, establishing a new lawn, grouping plants, improving your soil, and mulching.  
  • Use a placemat activity strategy for groups to record their research.
  • Provide each group with 1 large sheet of paper/placemat and a marker for each group member.
  • Instruct each group to divide its sheet of paper/placemat into sections, with an area in the centre and enough separate areas around the outside to match the number of members in the group.
  • Students record ways to save water in one of the outside sections.
  • Provide time for students to discuss what they found and agree on the 5 most important facts. They record these in the centre of the placemat.
  • Groups plan, rehearse and deliver a presentation (e.g. poster, cartoon or oral presentation) to communicate their top 5 facts.

Reflect & summarise

  • Revisit why it's important for us to save water.
  • What does it mean to be waterwise?
  • Get students to suggest one way they can get their family to save water in the garden.

Extension activities

Teacher background information

Fresh water thinking

As WA continues to experience the effects of a drying climate, planning for our water services to meet future demand is ever more important. We no longer rely solely on the rain and inflow to our dams to fulfill our water needs.

Water Corporation has been finding new ways to source and preserve our precious water – we call this fresh water thinking. Take a fresh look at saving water.

Saving water in the home

Together with steady population growth we urgently need to reduce our water use. Households are the biggest users of public water, using 71% and therefore offer the greatest potential to save water. Approximately 44% of household water is used outside the home. 

Water saving tips in the garden

  • Waterwise plants use less water, save money on your water bills, need less maintenance and are more likely to thrive and survive in our climate. Take a look at the Waterwise plants directory.
  • Alternative water sources include garden bores that draw water from shallow groundwater aquifers and reduce the use of drinking water for irrigating gardens. Rainwater tanks and greywater systems can reduce the amount of scheme water used to irrigate gardens.
  • Garden design can drastically reduce water used in the garden. Many verge lawns use a lot of water, fertiliser and care to maintain. A waterwise verge garden can be a better option. View more tips on garden design.
  • Water from your irrigation system can be wasted through evaporation and wind drift, or directing water away from the garden. Other tips include: know your rostered watering days, water once in the morning before 9am, generally run pop-up sprinklers for 10 minutes per station, turn off your irrigation system in winter and when it rains and regularly check your irrigation is working properly.
  • When planting a new lawn, choose a lawn that requires low water use and is heat and drought tolerant. Warm season grasses such as Couch, Buffalo, Zoysia, Saltene or Kikuyu respond well to the hot summers in WA.
  • Organic matter mixed through the top 15 cm of a sandy soil will dramatically improve both water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil, enabling longer periods between watering.

Benefits of hydrozoning

Placing plants with similar watering requirements together enables efficient irrigation design and use of water. The technical term for this is hydrozoning. Divide your garden into watering zones:

  • Zero drop plants require no watering. They are typically native species indigenous to WA.
  • One drop plants have a low water requirement. They will only need occasional watering over summer, once a week to not at all.
  • Two drop plants have a moderate water requirement every three to seven days during summer.
  • Three drop plants have a high water requirement every one to two days during summer.

Improving your soil

Sandy soil, typical in WA, is very nutrient poor and does not hold water well. The healthier your soil the more drought resistant your plants will be. Ways to improve your soil include:

  • applying a soil improver with a wetting agent
  • adding organic matter (compost) and soil amendments
  • applying mulch to your garden can greatly reduce evaporation loss (by up to 70%), improve the soil, reduce plant stress and weed growth, as well as improve the appearance of your garden.

Did you know?

Over the course of a year a typical household lawn could use as much as 100,000 litres of water. That's enough to fill two backyard swimming pools!


Key vocabulary

  • Aquifer: An underground layer of rock or sand that can absorb and hold water.
  • Hydrozoning: Placing plants with similar watering requirements together.
  • Native plant: Originating from and growing naturally in a particular region.
  • Scheme water: Supplied water that is drinkable.
  • Sustainable: Using a resource that is not depleted or permanently damaged.
  • Waterwise: Being aware of water use and taking a water conservation approach.