by Texas Homesteader ~
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This post is all about outside water conservation & irrigation using rain water including ways I capture rainwater and how I conserve its use in the garden. Come see my outdoor water conservation tips!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
How To Conserve Water, A Precious Resource
With consecutive years of drought, conserving water is all the buzz these days. But conserving our natural resources has always been something that’s important to me.
I’ve already shown ways to conserve water inside the house.
Things such as:
Turning off the water when you’re brushing your teeth.
Using low-flow aerators in your faucets.
Washing clothes and dishes only when the machines are full.
Of course we do all of those things. But today I want to focus on water usage outside the house.
Water is such a precious resource. And there are concerns that our nation’s water supply is being over-tapped in many areas. So anywhere we can conserve water is important.
How Much Water Is Used Outdoors?
I read recently on an EPA-sponsored website that about 30% of the water used by the average American family is used outdoors.
That means there’s lots of water that can be conserved! And there are many simple ways to accomplish that.
Growing Low-Water Plants In Your Garden
It’s a good idea when researching which plants you want included in your landscape to also research their care. Some plants require quite a bit of care. Other scrappy plants grow well without too much fuss.
I prefer the less-fuss type. So I’m always on the lookout for Xeriscaping plants – or those requiring less water.
Take these daylilies I have planted in our landscape. They’re beautiful, they bloom whether it’s cool and rainy or hot & dry.
Most years they grow beautifully with not a drop of additional water from me. All those pretty blooms just with whatever rainwater falls on them. And c’mon, yellow is a HAPPY color!
I also have a Confined Mint Bed. That mint grows without any help whatsoever from me! Even though it’s planted on the hot west side of the house, it thrives here with only the rain that falls from the sky to water it.
And by keeping the mint confined I don’t worry that it will take over the rest of the landscape. Plus the pollinators love the blooms.
And when I’m trimming the plant back I enjoy an icy cold Sugar Free Beverage. Talk about win/win!
Preserve Moisture For Plants Using Mulch!
I use mulch. A LOT! It helps keep the soil cool and conserves moisture too. This means healthier plants even with less watering.
I use grass clippings or dried leaves in the veggie garden mostly. But I’ll use spent hay too.
And the easiest mulch of all – Living Mulch! I plant vining plants such as watermelon or cantaloupe and allow those vines to grow beneath my tomatoes and other veggies to shade the soil and preserve moisture.
I often line the walkways of my garden with Free Wood Mulch. It gives me a nice walking path and smothers any grass or weeds that might grow there.
Whatever suites your situation – just get that bare ground covered! Preferably with a natural product that will biodegrade back into the soil over time.
Use Only Rainwater Outside If Possible
We try to use only collected rainwater for outside purposes. I’ve certainly had to buckle a few times from my stubborn “Use only rainwater when watering plants” mindset in order to save our trees and shrubs during consecutive years of severe drought.
But typically our outside water needs are 100% supplied only from rainwater collection.
Although there were minor start-up costs involved with my 3 Rainwater Collection Systems, I’ve been able to spend very little little cash for these options.
Water Barrel To Capture Rainwater
We have 2 rain barrels attached to a couple of our downspouts to collect rainwater from a section of roof.
This water is used for various tasks such as washing off garden tools, adding moisture to the compost or watering nearby shrubs and flowers.
RancherMan outfitted a food-grade barrel with a faucet on the bottom and a hand-pump on the top for one of our rainwater catchment barrels. He didn’t like the blue color so we painted it black. Easy peasy!
On our rain barrels there are overflow tubes that drain excess rainwater into large adjoining containers when the rain barrels are full.
There’s never standing water in the overflow container for long since it’s ideal for dipping my watering can into when watering potted plants on our back porch.
I also use this water when rinsing out my compost container or adding moisture to the *compost tumbler.
And since the rainwater barrels are set up on an elevated cinder-block platform, water can easily be gravity fed through a water hose when we water the trees.
The rain barrel shown below is on the other side of our home. It was picked up at a garage sale for about $10. We set it up on cinder blocks like the first rain barrel to aid in gravity-feeding.
Having it on the opposite side of the house allows easier access to rainwater on this side of the yard without having to go all the way around the house to reach our original water barrel.
And although the photo above shows the overflow bucket uncovered so you can see the water it holds, I prefer to keep it covered when it’s full. That way mosquitoes won’t breed in the standing water.
Water barrels are cheap, y’all. And now you can get *decorative water barrels to accent any landscaping style. So why not capture that FREE rainwater for watering your plants??!!
Underground Cistern For Collecting Rainwater
We also have another downspout connected to an underground pipe that runs to an underground cement cistern. Rainwater collected from this part of the roof travels directly to the cistern.
This old cistern was constructed many years ago and was used by a previous household that used to stand here until the early 1960’s. We now use that same cistern to collect and store our own rainwater.
This cistern is about 20-feet deep and will hold lots of water! And water collects in the cistern quickly with even a light rain.
That water is subsequently drawn up to irrigate my vegetable garden using a small well pump. All this water keeps my garden properly irrigated during the months when rainfall alone is not sufficient to keep the garden going.
The water from the cistern combined with heavy mulching in my raised veggie beds using spent hay from around the hay rings or living mulch typically keeps our garden productive even during the struggling summer months here in Northeast Texas.
Reusing Kitchen Water For Outside Plants
And finally, when we’re going through harsh drought I’m conserving as much water from inside the house as I can. I then capture & use some of that greywater to add water to my outside plants.
For instance I keep a plastic dish-washing tub in one side of my kitchen sink. If we wash an apple or rinse a glass, that rinse water is captured.
When the tub is full I’ll take use it to water potted plants.
Just another way to put to good use water that would have gone down the drain otherwise. And my plants stay properly watered and grow beautifully.
Capturing Shower Greywater For Plants
Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard about capturing water in the shower too.
When the shower’s running to heat up that water for your shower, some people place a bucket to capture that water that would have been wasted.
That greywater can also help with water conservation by using it to water plants. Every drop counts when you’re facing yet another drought!
We can learn from each others experiences – what methods do you use in your household to conserve water outside?
Other Conservation Posts
- Keeping Your Dollars: Saving Electricity
- Solar Screens Reduce AC Needs
- Whole-House Fan – Eco-Friendly Cooling
- Using FREE Solar Energy Instead Of Kitchen Appliances
- Household Utility Conservation: Indoor Water
- Reducing Landfill-Bound Trash
- Saving Money On Things That Used To Be FREE: TV
- How To Stay Warm When The Power Goes Out
Other Frugal Tips
- Tips For Surviving Sudden Financial Hardship
- Build Financial Security With Less Effort
- Simplify Your Estate – Document These Numbers NOW!
- Thriving Financially Without A Corporate Paycheck
- Easy Ways To Earn Money Fast In An Emergency
- Is Food Past The Expiration Date Safe To Eat?
- Things I No Longer Buy At The Store To Save Money
- Top 10 Self Sufficiency Posts
- 12 Easy Tips To Save Money On Groceries
- Easiest Self-Sufficiency Steps To Take NOW
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Canisters
…and many MORE!
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