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JLeslie's avatar

Anyone know of a water saving system for lawn irrigation?

Asked by JLeslie (47974 points ) July 23rd, 2013

Specifically, I am interested in maybe capturing rain water that runs off the roof gutters or just capturing rain water in general. It just seems to me the gutter is an easy way to capture a lot of water even with light rains. I guess the irrigation system would pull from the captured water, a tank, and then if it emptied switch to public.

I am wondering if systems like this already exist. If they don’t would it be difficult to rig? And, about how much do you think it would cost? Also, how many gallons would it have to be to be worth it? Does the water get filtered somehow? Can it be used in a pool also?

Another option would be capturing grey water from the house. If you have any links or information on that I would be interested in it as well. Especially prices.

To dig a well will be $4,000 and the area to be watered is not very large, so I don’t think it is worth it financially, but I do care about conserving water.

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Having been through droughts, there are a lot of things that will help available in California.

Rainwater capture is little more than a barrel put at the bottom of a downspout. There are systems from relatively inexpensive to much more, start by looking here and other places on the web.

Grey water is a bit more problematic because of the soap involved, and takes a little diversionary plumbing to get a line to bypass the sewage system. And it should only be the kitchen sink, dishwasher, and laundry washer. The dirt in it is okay, even helps the garden, but you have to filter out the soap.

johnpowell's avatar

This is really common (possibly mandatory in Australia).

The switching part is the rough part. You could use a float like a toilet has and a servo to switch between the two. But I would just make the system manual. Flick the knob if the tank is low. It isn’t like it would need to be checked everyday.

Personally I would find a septic tank that is plastic for a few hundred bucks. Keep it above ground and route gutters into it. Put a manual valve on the bottom that routes to the garden. Maybe wrap it in wood to make it less fugly. When you have water in the tank use it. If you have none do whatever you do now.

gorillapaws's avatar

I remember coming across the Aquablox system a while ago. I have no experience with it, so I can’t give it a thumbs up or down. It might be worth looking into.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks everyone! Very helpful so far.

@zenvelo I have seen those rain barrels before, but what I don’t get is how to connect it into the irrigation system. I don’t have a concept of how much water it takes to water the lawn. Is that barrel just a drop in the bucket? :) @johnpowell mentions a manual switch, which I might be ok with, but still the systems needs to have some sort of pump and connection to the sprinklers that’s where my knowledge is really lacking. The barrels you just usually attach a hose and use gravity I guess? My irrigation system is a system that comes on automatically.

@gorillapaws I am reading your link and trying to use the calculator to estimate what I would need. Very interesting.

johnpowell's avatar

Yeah, my idea uses gravity and underground leech lines. If you want sprinklers that spray water up in the air you would need another solution.

I don’t know where you live and the amount of rainfall you get. But just spraying water everywhere will go through the reserve pretty fast. And if you get that much rain it would be pointless to water the lawn. Generally you would want some sort of ground irrigation system so the water hits the roots before evaporation.

Personally I would try to pipe the water into the reservoir of the toilet first. Rain-water is perfect for flushing poo.

JLeslie's avatar

I live in FL. We typically get lots of rain, but you still have to water your lawn. The rain runs off or evaporates fast. The back lawn will be “wild” grass, and won’t need to be watered. But, the front lawn and landscaping will need water. Every house I have had previously in FL just pulled water from a nearby lake, cost us nothing, but the line to the lake and the electricity to pump it. Where I just moved from I paid a lot of money to water my lawn from the public water system, but the lawn was very large. I always felt bad watering the lawn and paying the bill.

johnpowell's avatar

This actually seems kinda perfect for a above ground tank. I would contact someone that can see your needs and offer better advice than I can. I, personally think it is a good idea to try. It would be a pretty maintenance free system. And it would probably pay for itself within the decade.

JLeslie's avatar

I’d like if it paid for itself within 5 years. We tend to move often. Even in 5 years it may not be worth it financially for me, but it makes me happy when I can do “green” things. I do plan on getting tankless water heaters and solar heater for the pool hopefully.

johnpowell's avatar

Well, assume your selling price would reflect the cost of future savings.

I’m a green nerd. I have solar power magazines in my bathroom. They just come to your door when you live in Oregon along with High Times.

whitenoise's avatar

Regentonnen have been around since forever. Nowadays there are some really nice ones.

Check the picture on the bottom of this page from a Dutch site on garden gadgets or here for the system itself.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise I actually have an Ikea close to me. I checked the American site I don’t see that product, but maybe I just did not look well enough. Still, good to know. It would probably be a very reasonable price from Ikea.

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