by Texas Homesteader
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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.
There are many 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 and 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.
Water Use 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.
Keep Water Requirements Low
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 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!
Mulch, Mulch and MORE Mulch!
I use mulch. A LOT! It helps keep the soil cool and conserve moisture too. This means healthier plants even with less watering.
Although I’ll water veggie garden plants when it turns hot and dry, almost all of the water they need to survive is simply the rain that falls on them.
I use grass clippings and dried leaves in the veggie garden mostly. But I’ll use Spent Hay too. I often line the walkways of my garden with Free Wood Mulch.
Whatever suites your situation – just get that bare ground covered! Preferably with a natural product that will biodegrade back into the soil over time.
Don’t Use Treated Water 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 need is 100% supplied only from rainwater collection. Although there have been minor start-up costs involved with my rainwater collection systems, I’ve been able to spend very little little cash for these options.
Water Barrel To Capture Rainwater
We have a rain barrel attached to one of our downspouts to collect rainwater from a section of the roof. I don’t remember how much we paid for this food-grade plastic barrel but it seems it was only $5 – $10.
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 this food-grade barrel with a faucet on the bottom and a hand-pump on the top. He didn’t like the blue color so we painted it black. Easy peasy!
RancherMan also installed an overflow on this rain barrel that drains into a large adjoining container when the rain barrel is 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 barrel is set up on a 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.
It also has an overflow bucket for dipping a watering can into. 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??!!
We also have an underground pipe connected to another downspout 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 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 typically keeps our garden productive even during the struggling summer months here in Northeast Texas.
Captured Water From Inside The House
And finally, when we’re going through drought I’m conserving as much water from inside the house as I can. I then turn around & use that water 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 that water out to the porch and water potted plants with it. 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.
Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard about capturing water in the shower when it’s running to heat up for your shower to 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?
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
- When Financial Times Turn Tough Unexpectedly
- Build Financial Security With Less Effort
- A Financial Hit On The Homestead
- Thriving Financially Without A Corporate Paycheck
- Make Your Slow Cooker More Efficient
- Is Food Past The Expiration Date Safe To Eat?
- Make A Cute Gift Box With A Repurposed Greeting Card
- MYO Minty Mouthwash
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Canisters
- Keep That Broccoli Fresh
- Don’t Waste Onion Trimmings
- Cleaner Vegetable Chopping
- Using Frozen Water Bottles In The Kitchen
- Don’t Waste It – Free Vegetable Broth
- Make A Cute Dish Carrier From Old Jeans
- MYO Crispy Taco Shells CHEAP
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Use ALL Of Your Spray Cleaner
- Quick Coffee Stain Cleaning
- Easiest Self-Sufficiency Steps To Take NOW
…and many MORE!
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