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Mains Water Neutral Gardening: An integrated approach to water conservation in sustainable urban gardens

Byrne, Joshua (2016) Mains Water Neutral Gardening: An integrated approach to water conservation in sustainable urban gardens. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The role of urban green space in contributing to the liveability of cities and towns is well recognised. Residential gardens make up a large portion of urban green space and how they are designed and managed will determine whether they contribute to environmental enhancement and human wellbeing, or become additional sources of resource depletion and pollution. This thesis demonstrates ways in which gardening can contribute to urban sustainability through thoughtful design and the clever management of water. Two new concepts are presented to achieve this objective: ‘Sustainable Urban Gardening’ and ‘Mains Water Neutral Gardening’.

Sustainable Urban Gardening (SUG) is a multi-criteria sustainability framework that promotes a series of goals, including Energy Efficiency; Organic Waste Recycling and Soil Management; Biodiversity and Habitat Restoration; Organic Pest and Disease Management; Local Food Production; Water Conservation; and Health and Wellbeing of Householders.

Mains Water Neutral Gardening (MWNG) is a site-responsive, integrated approach to water system design and management in residential gardens. It incorporates available lot-scale alternative water sources, such as greywater, rainwater and groundwater, with efficient irrigation practices and local environmental conditions to establish holistic water budgets that are capable of meeting garden water requirements as part of a water-sensitive landscape design.

Three residential case study gardens based on the SUG and MWNG concepts were designed, built and documented as part of this research, whilst also featuring extensively in Australian television and print media. Monitoring demonstrated a reduction in household mains water consumption of between 42% and 92% when compared to local averages whilst addressing the intended SUG goals. The findings show the potential for greywater, rainwater and sustainably managed groundwater to contribute to mains water savings as part of a well-considered landscape design and household, however the high cost of supply in comparison to mains water (on a dollar per kilolitre basis) presents a barrier to broader adoption. Nonetheless, novel methods that optimise these water sources are demonstrated, enabling increased household resilience whilst reducing demand on constrained mains water supplies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Ho, Goen, Newman, Peter and Anda, Martin
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