Revisiting Post – Outdoor Water Conservation

We posted several weeks ago about outdoor water conservation.  WOW are folks ever interested in this topic!  In case some of you missed it, I’m reposting it here.  Enjoy!  Don’t forget to weigh in on your own favorite ways to conserve water for outside use.

~TMR~

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Originally published 01-30-13

by Tammy Taylor

With two 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. Water is such a precious resource and there are concerns that our nation’s water supply is being over-tapped in many areas.  There are lots of ways to conserve water inside the house 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.

Daylillies - Taylor-Made Ranch

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!  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 the last two years of drought, but typically our outside water usage is 100% from rainwater collection. Although there have been minor start-up costs involved with my water conservation efforts, I’m blessed to have a very handy husband who can pretty much fabricate anything I need done for very little cash outlay.

Four Oclocks - Taylor-Made Ranch

We have a rain barrel attached to one of our downspouts to collect rainwater from a section of the roof.  We use this water for various tasks such as washing off garden tools, adding moisture to the compost or watering nearby shrubs and flowers.  We obtained a food-grade 55-gallon barrel and my husband installed a faucet on the bottom of the barrel and mounted a hand-pump to the top.  He also installed an overflow that drains into an 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 or dipping my temporary compost bucket when rinsing out my container or adding moisture to the compost tumbler.  The rainwater barrel is set up on a cinder-block platform so that water can easily be gravity fed through a water hose when we water the trees.

Rain Barrell - Taylor-Made Ranch

We also have an underground pipe connected to another downspout that runs to a cement cistern.  Rainwater is collected from this part of the roof and travels directly to the underground cistern, which 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 the cistern to collect and store our own rainwater.

Covered Cistern - Taylor-Made Ranch

This cistern is 20-feet deep and will hold lots of water!  Water collects quickly with even a light rain and is subsequently drawn to water my vegetable garden using a small well pump.  This keeps my garden watered during the months when rainfall alone is not sufficient to keep the veggies growing.  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 in Northeast Texas.

Inside Cistern - Taylor-Made Ranch

We can learn from each others experiences – what methods do you use in your household to conserve water?

~TMR~

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15 thoughts on “Revisiting Post – Outdoor Water Conservation

  1. Jenny

    We have four rain barrels that we use for watering our garden. This is our first season using them. So far so good. Thanks for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow: blackfoxhomestead.com/the-homeacre-hop/

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Four rain barrels? That would be heaven, Jenny! We’re still waiting on rain here in NE Texas, I sure hop it’s not another drought year, it’ll be the third one in a row… ~TMR~

      Reply
  2. Jamie

    What great tips! I love the rain barrel. Thanks so much for linking up to Give Me The Goods Monday! Hope to see you again tomorrow 😉 Jamie @ somuchbetterwithage.com

    Reply
  3. April

    We use rain barrels to save our rain water and also save our laundry water. I love being able to keep our garden going without having to turn on the tap. I would love to have a cistern!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      April, rain barrels are awesome, aren’t they? I’ve never figured out how to easily save our laundry water but that’s on my radar in the near future. We’ve been in a drought here in NE Texas for two years straight with another dry year predicted. I hate to use potable water for irrigation. Thanks so much for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
  4. Heather M

    I need to find a workable solution for collecting rainwater on our patio. We have a condo. So wish I could hook a rain barrel up to THAT gutter spout! Imagine the water I could collect! Thanks for linking up for Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Heather, if I were in your shoes I would collect rainwater in a plastic tub of some sort, maybe even a large trashcan. You can install a spigot very easily on the trash can and put it up on blocks to elevate it. We’re thinking about a setup like that against our feed shed so we can collect rainwater for the water trough for our little bottle calves we typically raise each year. Hummm…. ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. Joyce

    Wow!!! This is something we have not thought about. We have found some flow wells in the area that we can use if we need to, but this is for sure something to consider, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Joyce, I hate to use potable water on plants so I always try to use rainwater for watering them. I’m all for using whatever natural method possible for irrigation – good for you! ~TMR~

      Reply
  6. Lisa Lynn

    I’m going to feature a video this Saturday On The Homestead about a unique way to conserve water. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again this week! theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/04/the-homeacre-hop-16.html

    Reply
  7. Vickie

    We are also using a rainwater collection system! We built a 10×12 tool shed a couple of years ago and put a metal roof on it so we could collect relatively “clean” water. The rain gutters divert the water into an 1,100 gallon water storage tank. Once that tank is full, or nearly full, we siphon that water into another 1,100 gallon tank which is a bit closer to our orchard. We hope to get another water storage tank soon as we figure a little over 3,000 gallons should provide enough water for the 10 fruit and nut trees in our orchard. If you would like to read about it, here is the first of two posts about it: makingoursustainablelife.com/our-gravity-flow-water-system-part-1 . I really enjoy reading through your website. I have seen it before, but got there today through the homeacre hop!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Vickie – I checked out your post on rainwater collection and loved it. You’re planning well for your future. Thanks for sharing. ~TMR~

      Reply

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