10 Ways to Reuse Household Water in the Garden

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By Jakob Barry

Photo credit: Inger Wilkerson

While every garden is different every gardener has one thing in common: the need to water plants. That means this part of their nourishment is either coming directly from nature or out of the tap connected to our homes.

When it’s the former we’re home free, however, when it’s the latter, two things are going on. The first is that everyone’s water bill is slowly going up. The second and more important occurrence is that on an environmental level a lot of precious drinking water is being used in the yard when some of it could be saved and alternative sources found. Where are these alternative sources? Right under our noses.

In the same homes where hoses spray gallons in the garden each year, water is used for many other things such as cooking, bathing, and drinking and on most occasions there are leftovers which are spilled down the drain.  These may be suitable for watering your ornamental gardens and some may even be suitable for vegetable plantings which require cleaner water.

The key here is catching ourselves whenever possible before pouring it in the sink and trying to repurpose it for use in the garden.

Consider the following:

  1. Boiled water: Let’s say you boiled some potatoes or steamed asparagus. Once the water cools it’s perfect for the garden.
  2. Shower water: Many times we jump in the shower and the water isn’t hot yet. Instead of letting the water run down the drain collect it in a bucket or two for use in the garden.
  3. Condensation: When the weather gets really hot water sometimes drips from air-conditioners when they are blasting 24 hours a day. It may come in drops but can be collected for use in the garden.
  4. Leftover tea: We very often pour ourselves a cup of tea and perhaps even refill it once or twice. If you find there’s a little left empty it over the roots of the nearest plant.
  5. A pet’s bowl: If you have a dog or cat you probably change the water once a day. Toss any extra liquid in the garden.
  6. Rainwater: Rain is great but leave out some buckets or trays to collect the precipitation. Rain Barrels are another option if you want to collect lots of water.
  7. Filtered/spring water machines: Some machines have basins below the spout where water that spilled collects. Most of the time we just dump it out but it’s garden ready so feed a plant!
  8. Gutter water: When gutters are clogged they sometimes collect water, which can be harnessed for the garden.
  9. Birdbaths: If you have birds you know they love to bathe. When cleaning out the baths use the old water in the garden.
  10. Canned veggies: Most veggies that come out of a can sit in water. That water is great for using in the garden instead of being poured down the drain and wasted.

These are just a few of the many ways water can be collected from around the house and used to feed the garden. Some may seem trivial such as a few drops from an air-conditioner. However, the truth is depending on the size of plants and their needs one cup of water can go a long way.

Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for Networx.com. He also blogs for pros across the U.S. like remodelers in Columbus, OH and fence contractors in Torrance, CA.

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8 Comments

  1. I wish I was able to have a real garden. I would definitely use your wonderful tips!

    • You know I was wondering if my houseplants might like a nice cup of tea now and then… Water conservation is not something we think about a lot along the Great Lakes, but my oldest goes to college in Arizona and it has really changed her perspective.

  2. Some great tips there! I oftne pour the used/cold tea onto the garden, and of course the tea bags ane leaves go in the compost!

  3. What an environmeatally friendly post – so many great tips 😀
    Definitely going to start using some more!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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