The drought seems to have broken for the time being, in Melbourne anyway, but why waste precious water resources when you don't need to? I love the challenge of establishing a sustainable dry garden, that I can leave when I go away, and that I don't need to bother watering.
Dry gardening is not necessarily an easy option. It doesn't just mean planting the garden, then watching it grow. It is important to choose dry tolerant plants, but that alone won't ensure success.
You have to nurture the soil.
Remember that most of the plant is not visible to us because it is below the ground. The larger the plant the larger underground the root system, and the less likely surface watering will be effective.
When it does rain, the water barely penetrates hard, dry, compacted soils. As a growing medium, the best healthy soil is dark, crumbly, alive with micro-organisms like animals, fungi and bacteria. Such soil is best left undisturbed, just mulched.
Some gardeners seem to be able to establish a pretty permanent structure for their gardens, so maybe they don't need to disturb the soil much. Not me. I'm always digging things up and moving things around. So ... my beautiful soil gets stressed at best, at worst turns to dust.
Dust is turned into soil by the addition of compost and worm juice, and you can also buy soil conditioners. One that I bought recently and recommend is Diggers Club Biochar, described as 'an environmentally beneficial carbon sequestering soil conditioner.' It works. The soil has turned black and hospitable again.
Even dry gardeners need to water sometimes. I water plants when I first plant or move them. For the first summer I watch them. If they droop I may drip water them overnight. Grow baby, grow, I croon encouragingly. Sometimes I think they hold back on growing because they don't trust me, knowing that as soon as they get their roots comfy, chances are I'll dig them up and they'll have to start over again. I am a caring gardener, but in a hard, ruthless way.
When you need to water, do it drippingly, infrequently, and deeply.
Like everyone else I need a hose. When I received an offer to trial a new hose for Toro Australia, I accepted. This hose is marketed as anti-kink. And it is. It's not completely kink-free. Nothing's perfect. But it hardly ever kinks, and when it does, it is easy to pull it straight. Which saves time, energy and high levels of frustration. There a funny ad for it on Youtube.
In my daughter's garden I trialled an irrigation kit made by Pope. It's aimed at gardeners growing vegetables in raised garden beds. Years ago I tried to instal a watering system, but it didn't work in my cottage garden because the plants kept coming and going and moving around, so the drippers never seemed to be in the right place. This one is easy to instal, and since it is above ground, easy to move around. You can also adjust or close individual drippers. Very clever design.