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ACTSmart Rebates and Assistance

Canberra's Vegetation & Soil Climate

This resource provides information on general climate, soil and vegetation characteristics.

Best Practice Guidelines

Best Practice Guidelines

These Guidelines outline simple and effective strategies to help you save water in your landscape areas. The guidelines support the recommendations presented in the WaterRight Gardens Webtool, and when read in conjunction with the Fact Sheets, give you all the information you need to create and maintain a low water use garden.

Fact Sheets

The following series of Fact Sheets explore all the key issues in garden water use, providing more detailed information on the impacts of microclimate, soil, plant and lawn water use, mulch, irrigation method and alternative water use. Click on the relevant Fact Sheet to learn more about each issue. If you would like to download all Fact Sheets at once - click here.

Starting from scratch

Whether you are starting a new garden, or re-establishing an old one, this fact sheet will help you 'start from scratch' by helping you to prepare your soil, choose appropriate plants and design a garden that will be suitable for Canberra's climate.


We all know about climate variation across a continent like Australia – but what about micro-climate variation across your backyard? One of the secrets of a low water use garden is planting the right plant in the right place. This is explored in this Fact Sheet.

Importance of soil

The quality of your soil determines how healthy your garden is. Good texture, structure and depth create ideal growing conditions for most plants. Learn how to identify your soil type, which soil improvers work best, and how to manage water repellence.

Plant and lawn water use

Have you ever wondered why some plants use more water than others? Learn about plant adaptations to drought, and how to identify water stress in plants. Tips on creating a low water use lawn are also highlighted.


There are many types of mulch available in the market place. This Fact Sheet highlights which mulches are best for different garden types.

Irrigation methods

This provides an overview of the different methods available to irrigate your garden, ranging from fixed irrigation systems to manual bucketing and watering cans. Advantages and disadvantages for each irrigation method are discussed.

Sources of water

There are many alternative sources of water that can be used to irrigate landscapes, including rainwater, greywater and bore water. This Fact Sheet outlines handy tips on each source, and provides links to other relevant sites.

Other Resources

Smart Approved Watermark

Australia's outdoor water saving labelling program for products and services that help to reduce water use around the home.

National Water Commission

Australian Government lead agency for driving national water reform under the National Water Initiatives - Australia's blueprint for how water will be managed into the future.

Caneberra Discovery Garden

ACTEW's community education garden at the national Arboretum Canberra.

Australia Native Plants Society – Canberra region

The Society is a non-profit, voluntary organisation dedicated to the growing, conservation, preservation, promotion and appreciation of Australian native plants.

Birds in Backyards

This is a research, education and conservation program focusing on the birds that live where people live. Learn about how you can create bird-friendly spaces in your garden and local community

Grass Roots

Grass Roots Live is a unique interactive application enabling you to view current and historical water consumption data from ACTEW's turf and irrigation research project.

Sustainable Canberra Garden

Fact Sheets and case studies illustrating how Canberra residents can improve the sustainability of their gardens.