See more garden with less water

Donna Niebling in her gardenDonna Niebling is a mum and a keen gardener from Seymour, which is situated about one and a half hours drive north of Melbourne.

Not a drop of mains water

For the past eight years, Donna has worked to create a garden that is both serene and filled with colour and it doesn’t use a drop of mains water. An open area in Donna's garden

Donna is dedicated to showing others that you can have a beautiful garden without using mains water by choosing the right plants for your conditions. The garden is beautifully laid out with an outdoor deck area next to the house and water features which are run on rainwater alone.

Rainwater harvesting

Pergola behind iris cluster

Pergola behind iris cluster

Rainwater is collected for the garden in two water shuttles that are connected to spouting on the shed.  Water is then bucketed from the shuttles to the plants that need it – just the plants that are getting established.

Plant selection key

Donna has near perfected the art of picking the right plants for her gardens conditions, so that no additional water is needed – a trait she inherited from her mother.

There is a greywater system which is mainly used for watering two silver birches, the rest of the garden survives on rainwater directly from the sky.

The water efficiency of the garden doesn’t detract from it’s aesthetics with plants arranged in patterns.  Ornaments and structures bring in different themes to take the visitor on a journey as they meander along the paths that wind their way around the property.  The many native plants have also created a haven for bird life, which makes Donna’s garden the perfect place to relax in tranquil surrounds.

water feature amongst juncus and lomandra species

Water feature amongst juncus and lomandra species

Donna’s garden was the winning entrant into Goulburn Valley Water‘s Water Wise Gardening Award this year, which was announced in National Water Week.

For help on choosing the right plants for your own dream garden, try the savewater!® plant selector. There is also a great program for investigating if a greywater system is right for you called GreySmart, available for free at

Have you been doing some great water wise things in your garden? Let us know and inspire others with what you’ve done!

  • maria jose

    Garden look so attractive even utilizing less water.This post mention that you have to collect the rainwater in two water shuttles and then use it in adding water features to your garden.Here mention a very wonderful ideas of utilizing water in a suitable way when you have less water.

  • Luke Gibbons

    Thanks Maria – it really is a clever idea, it just goes to show that you can have an amazing garden without using much water at all.