Since we are living in the age of scarce natural resources and climate change, we must make an effort to recycle, repurpose, reuse, and conserve resources. The good news is—the popularity of sustainable living is constantly on the rise.
Water is one of the most precious things we have, and our gardens need it. By conserving water through sustainable plumbing options, you won’t just save a lot of money and energy, but you also may save your garden in case of drought. Here are the most sustainable plumbing options for your garden.
One of the easiest ways to save water is to capture and use “warm-up” water. Chances are, if you have a water heater that’s located a bit far from the faucet, you have to wait for a while after turning on the water for the hot water to actually reach you.
We usually don’t pay much attention to the amount of warm-up water that goes down the drain in the meantime. Don’t let it go to waste—when you turn on the hot water, put a large bowl or a bucket under the faucet.
When hot water starts to come out, simply move it out of the way and continue with your business. Since warm-up water is clean tap water, you can use it to direct water to your garden plants.
Gray water is relatively clean wastewater from sinks, baths, showers, and washing machines. You can use it for landscaping and watering houseplants. It’s a great resource as you get to use it twice. Depending on the method you use, reusing gray water can be one of the easiest ways to make your property more eco-friendly.
Unfortunately, the plumbing system of the average home treats gray water as sewage water. It becomes useless black water (the water we flush down the toilet). To reuse gray water, you have to take matters into your own hands.
Not all gray water is the same. Bathroom tub or sink gray water contains minimal amounts of soap residue or organic matter.
Dishwasher or kitchen sink water has the potential for harboring bacteria because it contains a lot of organic matter. If you want to use gray water, you need to use a mulched basin or a biofilter.
However, do know that codes regarding gray water reuse vary from state to state. Be sure to check what methods of reusing gray water are legal in your area.
A more complicated option is to replumb your bathroom sink drain into a gray water system. Again, if you want to do this, check your local plumbing codes first. If you have any specific questions, it’s best to contact the Maryland Board of Plumbing.
The bathtub is also a good place to start if you are serious about reusing gray water. For starters, you need to install a 3-way valve in your tub/shower drain and plumbing to support it. This will allow you to send the water to your gray water system or to the sewer line.
Directing the water to the sewer line must remain an option in case there’s a period of high water or very cold weather. In such cases, it’s easy to overload a small gray water gardening system. Naturally, for all of this, it’s best to hire a professional.
A laundry-to-landscape system is a great way of reusing gray water, provided that you don’t use chlorine bleach or harsh laundry detergent in your washing machine.
If you go with this method, make sure to move the hose to a different spot each time you use it in order to avoid creating a bog in your garden.
Every drop counts, so don’t stop here! Although it’s technically not a plumbing solution, installing rainwater barrels is another great way of making your garden even greener.
You can also try low-maintenance gardening with native plants that don’t require much water. Sustainable water conservation solutions offer a simple and cost-efficient way of taking care of your garden.
Submitted by Kevin Jefferson. Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.