Every year in the spring, avid gardeners and proud home owners around the country start doing major maintenance to make their yards and gardens look lush and beautiful. And part of that maintenance involves watering the yard and garden more fully and heavily than they did during the cold winter months.
Unfortunately using so much water for the yard and garden can rack up some hefty bills, and in some parts of the country there are actually restrictions on how much you can use because of water shortages.
There are actually several much more earth and environmentally friendly ways to get water for use in the yard and garden though, so we’ll look at those here.
1. Water From Your Roof. Even if it does not rain in your area often, when it does you might be surprised to find out just how much water can be captured for later use. And you’ll be able to capture extra water even if it just sprinkles lightly too.
The roof of your house is a large collection surface, which channels the water into specific areas. Normally this is done with house gutters. Any rain – even from a light sprinkle – runs down your roof to the gutters, and is channeled out through pipes which are usually placed at the corners. This rain provides those areas with much more water than the rest of the yard gets, because you can literally collect tens and hundreds of gallons of water from the roof depending on how hard it’s raining, and for how long.
Instead of letting that water simply exit the gutter drains though, you can put rain barrels underneath of them instead, and collect the water for using later where there is no rain. You’ll need to make sure your barrels are covered with a screen of some sort, to help keep out leaves, debris, or small animals. And it’s helpful to have a water faucet attached to the bottom, so you’ll be able to hook up the water hose and empty your barrel into the areas of the yard and garden which need it.
I personally have collected as much as 30 gallons of water during a light sprinkle that barely made the ground moist, and several hundred gallons during full rain storms.
2. Rain gardens. Another way to use the free rain water in your yard and garden is to create what are known as rain gardens. These are generally deeper depressions or low lying areas in your yard, which naturally collect extra water each time it rains.
You could for instance, dig a trench which starts at the exit area of your roof gutter drains, and extends into specific areas of the garden. Then each time it rains, the water running off the roof will be channeled into that trench. Any water accumulating around on the ground will also gravitate towards that lower lying area too, and this allows the water to penetrate more deeply into the ground to provide a better watering system for the roots of your plants.
3. Gray water. Last but not least, you might want to consider setting up a gray water drainage system for your yard and garden. Gray water is simply water which is recycled from your home. When you wash a load of laundry for instance, instead of letting the water drain into a pipe which is carried away by the sewer system, you could let the water drain out of a hose which leads outdoors to your yard and garden areas.
You could do the same thing with your shower or bathtub, then each time someone took a shower or bath, or washed a load of cloths, your yard and garden would be watered too.
In most communities there are laws and regulations about how you’re allowed to use gray water, and these can vary drastically. Generally you’re not allowed to use water from the toilet or kitchen sink to water your yard and garden with though, because these can create health hazards. Some places will also have restrictions about how close your gray water can or cannot be to a neighbor’s yard. So be sure to check your local ordinances before setting up any sort of gray water system for your home.