Blogs (Media Centre)

Drought-proof your garden with tips from TAFE NSW Horticulture experts

Drought-proof your garden with tips from TAFE NSW Horticulture experts

Summer has arrived and as we head into holiday season, many Australians are looking forward to spending more time in the garden. With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting unusually high temperatures this Summer, TAFE NSW Horticulture teachers are sharing their expert tips on how to drought-proof your gardens.  

The latest seasonal update shows that approximately 30% of NSW is in a drought category and Australians are being warned to prepare for dry and warm conditions with an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires this summer. 

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Agribusiness, Jeweles Heinrich, said success in the garden starts with soil.  

“Good soil retains moisture but still has adequate drainage, you can improve soil with additives such as Seasol products to increase resistance to heat and drought conditions and also wetting agents to retain moisture at the root zone,” Jeweles said. 

“There are two units in the Certificate II and III in Horticulture that focus on looking at soil texture and structure to see whether it’s holding moisture, as well as testing the physical and chemical properties of soil to enable us to improve soil quality before planting.” 

“If you’re unsure of what plants grow well in your area, look around your neighbourhood for inspiration. Plants and trees that appear to be healthy and established have likely survived the last drought and are therefore suitable for your garden.” 

“A common mistake people make is not watering the plant and soil area before applying mulch, it is important that the soil has adequate moisture before adding mulch, especially in these high temperature conditions.  

“After applying the mulch, you need to water it in to prevent it from blowing away on a windy day. If you are concerned about nitrogen drawdown you can also add some blood and bone underneath the mulch to feed the beneficial microbes in the soil. 

“Lucky for us there are many great mulches available on the market today to help retain moisture in the soil for longer. 

“Try to avoid using rock to cover soil, particularly in hot areas, instead look for covers that will decrease the temperature of the soil so less watering is required.” 

Jeweles’ top tips for drought-proofing your garden this summer include: 

  1. Always check that you have selected the right plants to suit the local climate and soil conditions. Seek professional advice if need be. 
  2. Improve your existing soil with organic matter that is well rotted and broken down. 
  3. Always wet your soil before covering with mulch and then water again once covered. 
  4. Mulch, mulch, mulch! Always cover soil to avoid erosion and maintain moisture. 

For anyone looking to take their gardening skills to the next level, Jeweles says there are a range of horticulture courses available at TAFE NSW. 

“We offer foundational skills in the Certificate II in Horticulture, to specialised Certificate III courses in Horticulture, Parkes and Gardens, Landscape Construction, Sports Turf Management, and Nursery Operations. 

“Whether you’re looking to improve your own garden or considering a career change in a dynamic industry, there is something for everyone at TAFE NSW.” 

To find out more about the courses on offer, visit