Cape Peninsula & Boland
Cape Peninsula & Boland
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Alternative watering recommendations during water restrictions

During a drought, water restrictions can prohibit your tree from receiving sufficient water if you don’t have a borehole or non-potable water source.

A tree that has been planted in the last 4 years is classified as a recently planted tree (depending on original size of tree).

Watering a recently planted mature tree during a drought is essential for its long-term survival:

  • The risks of not watering trees outweigh those for other landscape plants and turf. Lawns can go dormant and will rebound, but with recently planted trees, you don’t have that option. This only applies to trees recently planted and still in a phase of establishment. Fully established trees do not require watering – there will be exceptions where soil properties are very poor.
  • Along with increasing property values, trees help clean the air of pollutants, control erosion, reduce runoff after storms and create shade that lessens the need to use energy for cooling. The more mature the tree, the greater the benefit.
  • If a lawn, perennials or shrubs die from lack of water, they’re relatively inexpensive to replace. But losing a mature tree can be pricey.
  • Removing a dead tree can cost thousands of Rands, depending on the size and situation; if you choose to have a new one planted, you’ll incur the costs of installation as well as of the tree itself. And over time, you’ll end up using more water.


We recommend the following alternative watering methods to ensure the survival of your mature tree during a drought.


Grey water is the waste water from the shower, bath, bathroom sink and washing machine. It doesn’t include toilet water or kitchen waste water.

You can collect greywater in various ways:


  • Bucket in the shower – the most basic and cheap way to collect “free” water for your garden


Place a bucket in the shower and collect the water whilst you’re showering. Then take the bucket outside to water your tree every day!


  • Wheelie bin connected to washing machine – collects a lot more water in one go and is easier to move around, requires some DIY setup


What you need: Wheelie bin, tap and washer and extra garden hose.


How it works:

–          Place your outlet pipe of your washing machine in the wheelie bin.

–          Drill a hole at the bottom of your wheelie bine and connect the tap and washer

–          Connect the hose pipe to the tap and use this to water your tree. We recommend that you connect your dripper pipes to this system as it will provide a slow drip irrigation (see our watering instructions regarding the recommended dripper pipes)

  • An installed irrigation system that collects and distributes greywater – you can have this professionally installed or consider the DIY options.

The following companies can be contacted: or

Water from the washing machine, dishwasher, bath and sink is directed into a tank or a filter and then pumped into the garden through an irrigation system.

It’s reasonably simple as long as the plumbing outlets are accessible. Many companies such as Grey Water Systems and Water Conservation Systems provide DIY kits with detailed installation manuals, or you can employ a reputable plumber to do it for you.

These systems can be connected to existing plumbing. The installation involves a small amount of plumbing to redirect pipes and then some digging in the garden to lay the drip irrigation.

Research shows that the most effective way of using grey water in the garden is to direct it as close to the roots of plants as possible. This not only helps minimise odours, it sends water to where it’s needed. So, while sprinklers can be used, a drip line irrigation system is more effective.



Collect rain water in tank to irrigate your tree. You can contact these suppliers to consider their various products based on your requirements and budget – or or



This is a concept of using a watering bag / or bottle to slowly release water around the stem of your tree.

The watering bottle is another cheap option since you can use recycled plastic bottles:

  • Make 4–5 small holes in the cap of a plastic bottle using a drill or nail and hammer; the more holes you make, the faster the water will pour out and vice versa. Make sure the holes aren’t too small as they’ll clog up with debris.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the bottom of the bottle; it should now look like a funnel.
  • Dig a hole next to your plant and bury the bottle so half of it is above ground. The cap must be at the bottom with the funnel facing upwards, allowing you to pour water into it. When it rains, the bottle will also catch some rainwater.

TIP: If you have big containers or plants that need a lot of water (like trees), you may need to position several bottles around them.

The watering bag is a custom designed bag for specifically watering trees at a slow release. The import to South Africa is still in progress and we will let you know as soon as you can purchase it at Trees SA.  

You can even use the grey water you’ve collected from your shower to place in the water bottle / bag for slow release.

There’s no reason why you can’t water your mature tree during a drought!



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