Thursday, January 22, 2009

Graywater Gardens

Okay, this is cool: not only using the graywater from your washing machine to irrigate you garden, but using your neighbor's graywater!

On one end of the big base trough, a musical sculpture comprising a C-shaped copper pipe, a pale terra-cotta base and a bowl that looks like a huge rust-finished wok spills water into the tub holding the upper story of plants. From there it overflows into the base, and from there?

"We use it to irrigate this part of the garden," Hurd said, pointing out the slope downhill from the fountain. "We're going to add more riparian plants - water lovers - and I'm going to build a willow-stake fence to replace this one that's falling down."

In such a wet spot, as along a creekside where they generally grow, willow branches that are just stuck into the ground can be relied upon to root and grow. What you get is a fence that can be maintained with pruning shears, never needs painting, won't fall over and will furnish branches for art and fun, and twigs to make willow water....

Water approaches the copper "C" piped from a buried cistern - a barrel with a sump pump. There's a lid; when we visited, it was taken off to show the works. That water comes from the washing machine of Hurd's next-door neighbor, Annie Leonard.

The living fountain system does more than move water around; it cleans it. It's a very simple graywater filtration system that wastes no precious garden space on ugly machinery. The first level is a terra cotta pipe filled with sand. The most active filters are the roots of those plants in the tiered hanging gardens. (Hurd claims no technology so far can match the filtration strength of certain plant roots.) She'll have water emerging from the planters tested to see if it's legally clean enough for irrigating vegetables.

I can't wait to try this in my backyard, 'cause while I don't have a washer...oh yes, my neighbor does.

No comments: