Water wise to fight grime

2018-02-13 06:00

Keeping public spaces looking clean and well cared for is one of the ways to keep the community safer.

This is the philosophy employed by the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID), which has seven gardens planted in public spaces.

MID cleaning portfolio director and vice chairperson Karen Hultzer says: “It is imperative that the area still remains cared for and well maintained, as we want to avoid a perception of deterioration of public spaces as a result of the drought.

“The minute an area is perceived as that of a community that has no pride in their environment, then you can have no expectation of others who interact with that environment to embrace it with pride and a caring attitude. This is how social degradation starts taking hold on an area, and behaviours within the public space start to change.”

But how do you keep gardens green (and public spaces safe) in the middle of a drought?

“We tried using river stones and boulders in the affected areas to act as cover to help retain moisture in the soil for the other plants, but they were continually being stolen, so we are now using hardy local ground cover plants instead,” she says.

“Public space gardens, while implemented by the MID, are still largely dependent on residents to assist with watering – and some gardens unfortunately have been affected by the water restrictions.”

The key is careful planning and partnerships, says Hultzer.

“Irrigation systems were installed in most of the gardens when they were planted, and MID called on residents to assist with watering gardens in the residential areas e.g. Royal Road and the corners of Holland, Palmer and Hansen roads. With the water restrictions last year, the systems were turned off yet most of these plants are surviving thanks to our landscaper insisting on planting drought-resistant plants several years ago,” she says.

“This along with regular mulching has ensured that many plants have survived the extreme situation we face now. There are, however, certain areas that have suffered tremendously and currently, when available, these gardens are maintained by the use of grey water from residents and our greening team.”

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