Time to Water the Garden
(and We Are in a Drought)
By Greg Peterson
This time of the year I get a lot of questions about how to best water our yards. Short of standing with the hose or installing a sprinkler system (both of which are significantly water wasteful), what can we do?
Some of my favorite solutions include rain water harvesting, greywater harvesting and drip tape systems. All three of these methods require some forethought and planning. Over the next few weeks we are going to explore these options. Each of them are defined as:
- Rainwater – is any water that falls on your property
- Greywater – is any water that goes down any drain in your home except your kitchen sink and toilet.
- Drip Tape systems – an innovative watering system that distributes water very selectively and is quite water efficient.
For the longest time after I went to my first permaculture class in 1991 I understood the notion of water harvesting to be one where I had to collect and store the water in some kind of container which is the very expensive way of installing water harvesting systems. The part that I missed was that there is a perfect storage container for the water that is FREE…it’s the ground around my home. Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, says to plant your water first then plant the landscape around it.
Plant your water first is very wise advice and will save you a bucket load of money on storage containers. That’s right—don’t build tanks, put gutters in place and direct the water in the ground where you need it.
Plus, the biggest problem with storing greywater is that it becomes blackwater very quickly and smells. You don’t want to stick your nose in a greywater tank after a few days of storage – plus cleaning them out is quite a bear.
This week’s article, called Greywater Turned Green, explores the many aspects of greywater. But before you go there, here are some quick greywater answers.
- Greywater is the water that goes down your shower, washer and sink (not including the kitchen.)
- Blackwater, which is not usable in our landscape, is the water that goes down the toilet and kitchen sink.
- Don’t ever store greywater, as it begins to smell very quickly.
- Greywater is legal in some states. Check with your local municipality for the regulations in your area.
- To see Arizona’s regulations click here
We also have two fantastic books on the topic. Create an Oasis with Greywater gives you the inside scoop on irrigating with household wash water while relieving septic tank strain and doing it all chemical free! Plus Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Vol. 1 shows you how to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen water harvesting “earthworks”. Most of all, have fun with your greywater. Have a great green day.