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Water Saving and Recycling Tips For Gardeners

I love pottering in the greenhouse and garden and listening to classic rock with my Labradoodle, Florrie.


Climate Change and Drought

Europe is suffering one of the worst droughts for decades. In the UK, we have endured record breaking temperatures—exceeding 40 degrees centigrade (104F) for the first time ever. This has been exacerbated by lower than average rainfall nearly every month over the last year. Everyone must rethink their water usage to conserve and recycle the water we have.

Climate change is affecting our gardens

Climate change is affecting our gardens

Watering Gardens During Drought

Gardeners have been particularly hard hit by drought. Their garden plants have been struggling to draw sufficient water from the earth to survive. In drought conditions, the use of hosepipes and sprinklers can be banned by water authorities. Those caught breaking the rules can be given a hefty fine.

Water butts soon become empty in hot, dry weather. Water authorities usually allow homeowners to use tap water on their gardens via a bucket or watering can. However, ethically, is using water straight from a garden tap on your garden the best use of fresh water during times of drought?

Summer’s are becoming hotter and drier

Summer’s are becoming hotter and drier

Recycling Water in the Home

Gardeners need to adapt their watering methods during a water shortage. There are many ways to recycle water from around the home that might otherwise go straight down the drain.

Waste water from baths, showers, washing machines, dishwashers and sinks is referred to as “grey water”. This typically makes up between 50-80% of a household’s waste water.

If grey water can be captured before it disappears down the drain, it could be recycled to provide an additional water source for a gardener to use in the garden.

  • Note: grey water can contain harmful bacteria so should not be used on fruit, vegetables or any crops that are going to be eaten.

Water is often wasted in the home when a tap is left running whilst we brush our teeth or hands—or simply wait for the water to run hot. Collecting this clean water can give a gardener suitable water to use on food crops.

Read on to see my water collection and recycling tips around your home—reducing the need to use your garden tap!

The average bath contains enough water to fill over 10 garden watering cans.

Recycle your bath water

Recycle your bath water

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Read More From Soapboxie

Take a Bath Not a Shower!

There are many claims that taking a shower uses less water than having a bath. However, the answer depends on the type of shower you have and how long you spend in the shower. In the same way, a key factor is the size of your bathtub and how much you fill it!

In general, if you half fill your bathtub before you get in, you will use around 100 litres of water. Compare that with a shower that uses 12 litres of water per minute. A power shower uses more—some around 15 litres of water per minute. Therefore, a 10-minute power shower can use up to 150 litres of water.

The key aspect in the comparison from a gardening perspective is the retention and recycling of water. Water from a shower goes straight down the drain. However, as long as you keep the plug in, the water from a bath can be recycled on garden plants once you have finished your bath!

A standard watering can holds nine litres of water. So an average bath contains enough water to fill your watering can 11 times! All you need to do, once you have finished your bath, is fill your watering can from the water in the tub and carry it outside to your thirsty garden plants!

Recycle washing-up water

Recycle washing-up water

Wash Dirty Dishes in a Bowl

Nowadays, most households use a dishwasher to clean their crockery and cutlery after meals. Dishwashers are usually plumbed in, which means the grey water goes straight down the drain. However, if you do your washing-up by hand in a bowl instead, you can reuse the waste water from the bowl on your garden plants! Remember that you should only pour waste water on plants that are not for eating.

A good tip is to douse plants suffering from aphids with your washing-up water. The mild detergent in the water can kill off greenfly and blackfly.

Save water from the hot tap whilst it warms up

Save water from the hot tap whilst it warms up

Recycling Clean Water for Crops

Clean water direct from the tap is needed to water your fruit, vegetables, salads and anything you are going to eat.

My top tip for recycling clean water involves collecting water from the hot water tap whilst waiting for it to heat up. Most households now own a combination boiler which heats hot water at source. This means that it can take up to 30 seconds to run through hot to your kitchen or bathroom tap.

I use an old, clean water bottle or milk carton to collect this cold water that would otherwise run down the drain. When the bottle is full I pour it into my watering can ready to recycle in the garden!

In the same way, place a bucket in your shower to collect water whilst you wait for it to warm up!

Recycle your pets’ drinking water

Recycle your pets’ drinking water

Other Water Recycling Ideas

How many more ways can you think of to collect and recycle water around your home for the garden? For example, treat your favourite pot plant to a drink when you change the water in your pets drinking bowl!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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