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a water-wise home with a productive garden

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I was wondering what your thoughts are with regards to a water-wise home that is also productive (meaning grows food). My husband will be installing a (laundry) grey water system within the next few weeks to feed our fruit trees. But we also have vegetables (some annual and some perennial and many volunteers). We also have some plants for the bees, butterflies and birds. No lawn, but there are ground cover in some areas (dymondia, thyme, clover, some native grasses). We have living mulch and mulch everywhere. We want to capture the laundry greywater for the fruit trees, but aside from that growing food takes water. In fact, I feel that our yard (especially after we install the laundry grey water system) takes up the most water. We already take short showers and we are careful with other water use. We installed Caroma toilets years ago. We also have rain barrels (all told 1400 gallons storage capacity, but this fills up fast given the way our rainy season works). I can't think of anything else to do. Suggestions? We can't really cut through our walls to capture kitchen water right now for budgetary reasons.

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Hi Jackie,

Most people don't have enough greywater to irrigate the entire landscape, but with thoughtful planning you probably can reduce your water use and keep the productivity of the landscape. And it sounds like you're already doing a lot of water-wise landscaping.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Use the laundry greywater like you're planning on doing, and plant/transplant some of the habitat type plants (for birds and bees) so they grow around the greywater outlets. This way your washing machine water can irrigate both fruit trees and habitat plants. You may need to change some plant species of the bees/butterflies plants so the guild is compatible with your fruit tree size.
  • Look at your landscape as an whole ecosystem. Try to meet the needs using as little water as you can, like the example above. Maybe you don't irrigate all your current plants and some of them may die (like some of the ground cover), but then other plants can thrive near a greywater outlet
  • Plan areas of the non-edible landscape that you do not irrigate (once plants are established). You may need to make some landscape changes.
  • Before installing the laundry greywater system, consider using the shower greywater for some of the fruit trees and then the laundry could be used for some of the perennial vegetables. It may not be feasible depending on your site, but a gravity flow shower system is best suited to trees, while a laundry system can irrigate smaller plants.
  • If you can't install a gravity shower system, consider a pumped system and use the water for some of the vegetable garden (no root veggies).
  • To increase the water efficiency of your vegetable area, consider using shade cloths, olla irrigation, or drip irrigation. You can install a gravity-fed drip irrigation system from rain barrels in many situations.

  • Hope this helps!

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