Gardens are an important feature of our metropolitan landscape helping to define the quality of life we enjoy. Recent variations in rainfall and weather conditions offer significant challenges to gardeners. This project investigated water requirements for gardens in Melbourne and Geelong. A scientific model of garden watering was produced and a software tool refined for general use to allow gardeners to make informed decisions on garden design and water use. This tool is now available at SmartGardenWatering.org.au.
The model developed accounts for climate conditions, plant water use characteristics, site conditions and watering methods, in the calculation of watering requirements. This model uses scientific principles to estimate the amount of water that a garden needs, and provides the foundation for plant selection and watering decisions.
The Burnley Plant Directory, which contains water use characteristics and other details for more than 1500 plants, is embedded in the program.
The model forms the basis of a web site that makes the results of this work readily available to the general public.
Gardeners have access to the watering calculation tool at SmartGardenWatering.org.au. Based on design information from the gardener a specific demand graph for a twelve month period specifying frequency and time for each watering event can be produced. Water restrictions are taken into consideration and the gardener is able to tune the watering schedule on a monthly basis to match differing plant and rainfall conditions.
Gardeners are also able to simulate the performance of a water tank in supplying water to a garden area.
The website was launched at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in April 2009 receiving positive reaction from print and television media.