Yass TAFE students plant succulents to reduce town's water usage

GREEN THUMBS: TAFE NSW Yass horticulture students check on succulents growing at Yass APEX Homes. Photo: Hannah Sparks
GREEN THUMBS: TAFE NSW Yass horticulture students check on succulents growing at Yass APEX Homes. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Horticulture students at TAFE NSW Yass have been busy planting succulent gardens at the town's senior citizens village and golf club to reduce water usage during the drought.

Course teacher George Dashwood said succulents were the "future of Australia" as things heat up.

"They can survive for months without water," he said.

In a bid to encourage Yass residents to reduce their water usage by also planting succulents, students will share detailed lists of the plants they are using with the public via Yass Valley Information Centre.

Green and red 'Sempervivum tectorum' (hens and chicks) and 'imbricata' (blue rose) are now among the plants growing at Yass Apex Homes.

These plants are low-maintenance and will allow the senior residents to enjoy a garden without the hard work usually involved with a traditional garden.

"Planting succulents doesn't mean you won't have a pretty garden," TAFE NSW Yass horticulture student Tilly Townsend said, pointing to a succulent with bright orange flowers at APEX.

"And they can be grown indoors, on the balcony or outside."

On Monday, the students checked the succulent beds at APEX for the first time since planting them. They were growing well, with some already reproducing.

A similar project has taken place at Yass Golf Club's sixth hole.

The students have replaced overgrown plants and weeds that were creating unwanted shade over the green with low-maintenance natives.

Local golfer Nick Pollack volunteered his time to remove the original plants and the students spent between two to three hours across three days planting the new ones.

The beds are now filled with 'convolvulus cneorum' (silverbush) and 'dianella revoluta' (sea breeze), among several other plants.

They will only need to be watered once a month after the first six months, TAFE NSW Yass horticulture student Rose Apelt said.

Yass APEX Homes and Yass Golf Club secretary John Heggart said he was extremely grateful to the students and looked forward to their ongoing relationship.

"We think moving to low-maintenance gardens is the way to go," Mr Heggart said.

"We want to create a pleasant environment for APEX residents and we try to do most of the maintenance ourselves, but the landscaping is a big job for the volunteers.

"We are also very conscious of the cost of running water to the gardens. We were pleased when George (Yass TAFE NSW Certificate III in Horticulture teacher) suggested the project."

The succulent gardens project has had additional benefits for TAFE NSW Yass students.

Gardening equipment and materials not available at TAFE are readily available at APEX, while the Golf Club provides a wide range of trees for the students to learn how to identify.

Students plan to continue to replace traditional garden beds with succulents at APEX and even create a raised vegetable bed for senior residents to easily tend to.

Applications for the Certificate III in Horticulture course at TAFE NSW Yass open in January and July. The course runs for one day per week for 18 months.

What do you think about TAFE NSW Yass' gardening project? Have your say: