Thursday, June 26, 2008

GreyWater, what is it? What can you do?

In general terms greywater refers to wash water. Wash water being water used for washing dishes, washing your clothes, and shower water. What doesn't qualify as greywater is toilet waster water and food waste water derived from garbage grinders.

The term often used when describing toilet waste water is "blackwater" their is a clear distinction between grey and blackwater. Blackwater contains very high levels of nitrogen and various pathogens which are difficult to filter and are very harmful if mixed with drinking water.

Diagram below illustrates a scenario for recycling greywater:

For further greywater information, and a full greywater planning guide visit:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Safety in the Garden

As the summer draws closer, we tend to spend more time in our garden – not just working out there, but also relaxing and enjoying the fruits of our efforts. While we think of our home and our garden as a safe place for us, this is usually where most accidents happen. Here are some simple things that you can do to keep your garden a safe place to enjoy, both for yourself and for any young ones who may be running around.

  • If you use any products in your garden or on your lawn that contains chemicals, keep these products locked up at all times, so that any children cannot get at them, and always use these products only as the directions say.

  • Always wear protective footwear, gloves and eye protection when working in the garden. Wear kneepads if you’re going to be doing any kneeling.

  • Keep tools out of children’s reach; put all tools away as soon as you are finished using them, and learn how to use them properly. Always check your tools before using them to make sure they are not broken; when cleaning them, make sure they are unplugged.

  • Check your lawn and garden for anything that may cut or trip you – loose rocks, nails, slaps of stone, etc. Also, don’t work in the garden in wet or icy weather – this can not only be dangerous on your own, but it can be even more so if you’re using power tools.

  • When working on a ladder, only work with what you can reach comfortably that is directly in front of you. Instead of reaching, re-position the ladder. When positioning your ladder, make sure that it is on an even surface, and that it has rubber feet to prevent slippage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cool Gardening Projects and Accessories

Just wanted to point out a couple of really cool things that I've discovered or read about recently online.

First, is the Hepper Roost Bird House. I love the design of this bird house - modern and eye catching, and looks like it would go great in any modern chic yard. (Can be found at Design Public.)

Secondly is the DIY Terrarium that can be found at the decor8 blog. This is definitely something I am going to be creating for myself at some point in the near future.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Creepy Letter at the Bottom of the Pond


Recently, a friend of ours, Simon, moved to Over, just North of Cambridge, UK. He was moving to a lovely property, with a nice garden and a pond.

Simon wasn’t so keen on the pond though. It’s not very child friendly, and with two young ones running around the garden, he thought it would be safer to get rid of it.

A few buckets and hours of sweating later, Simon lifted the pond lining to discover a laminated piece of paper sitting at the bottom of the gaping hole that once was the previous owner’s pond.

So you want to install a backyard pond? You're going to need a pond pump!

A pond pump is a paramount component of any water feature, because without a pond pump, your water will be stagnant and mosquitos will thrive. If you choose the wrong pond pump, you may not have sufficient water circulation for your needs. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to choose the proper pond pump to suit your needs.

Prior to purchasing a pond pump for your water garden, there are several trade-offs that you need to take into consideration:

1. Functionality
2. Cost
3. Durability

The most important thing to keep in mind when buying your pond pump is that it must suit the needs of your water feature. It is recommended that the pumping capacity of the pond pump (in gallons per hour, or GPH) be at least half the volume of your pond, in gallons. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. Therefore , an adequately sized pump is critical to ensure that your pond water gets circulated at least once every two hours. If you have fish or a waterfall, your GPH requirements will obviously need to be increased. Consult the pump specifications of each pond pump (available on reputable pond websites) to ensure that these requirements are met.

You must also select an appropriate type of pond pump for your application. Do you have a large waterfall? Then you should look into a waterfall pump. Do you need a pump to circulate water through a fountain? Then consider a submersible pond pump. Are you raising fish? Then consider a fish pond pump.

Whatever you do, do not purchase the cheapest pump in the market. Ensure that any pump that you do purchase is energy-efficient. Note that magnetic-driven pond pumps are not only the most energy-efficient pumps, but also operate the quietest. Magnetic-driven pumps are also more durable than other pumps (E.g. direct-drive pumps), and should last for at least 2 years. Any pond pump that you do purchase, if it’s a reliable product, should also come with at least a 2-year warranty.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Outside Water Conservation

With more emphasis being put on becoming more environmentally friendly these days, water conservation is a subject on everyone’s mind. It doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact there are many simple things you can do around your home to help with saving water, especially outside in the summer. We’ve put together a list of the top 15 things that you can do outside to save water this year.

1. Get a rain barrel. Saving rain water reduces the amount of water you would otherwise get from your hose. This is especially beneficial during those dry drought periods you may get during the summer.

2. Water your garden either first thing in the morning, or during the evening. Watering your garden or lawn during the hottest part of the day will only result in most of the water evaporating, and won’t do your lawn and garden any good.

3. Get your car washed at a car wash that uses recycled water, or use a product like the California Car Duster. The Car Duster removes dust from your car, helping it maintain a clear appearance without the necessity of rinsing it with water!

4. Don’t spray your driveway, sidewalk, deck or porch with either your sprinkler or hose. If your driveway is dirty, or covered in leaves, sweep the mess up with a broom or blow it off with a leaf blower. If you are watering your lawn or garden, position your sprinkler so it doesn’t water your driveway, street or sidewalk.

5. Most neighbourhoods have watering schedules, where you can only use water outside on certain days during the summer. Find out what these days are, and observe them.

6. When mowing your lawn, set the blade to the highest possible height. Longer grass will grow deeper roots, and will help shade the soil enough to prevent water evaporation. Keep the blades on your mower sharp to prevent tearing of grass, which has a tendency to look unhealthy. Lastly, don’t use a bag on your lawn mower to collect grass clippings – let the clippings fall onto your lawn. These clippings will help fertilize your lawn and keep moisture in the soil.

7. Use a water-efficient sprinkler. Some sprinklers, such as the Rainforest brand of sprinklers, will save up to 30% less water when using them compared to a typical sprinkler, but splitting the water drops into a mist that helps to improve the quality of watering you give your lawn or garden.

8. Make your garden larger. Grass needs more water than most other plants. Why not try adding a paved area to your yard, or a mulch bed around your trees to help reduce grassed areas?

9. Check for leaks on a regular basis – this includes around all faucets, connectors, hoses, sprinkling systems, and around your swimming pool.

10. Plan your garden properly – group plants that have similar watering needs together. Also, try to do your planting in either the spring or the fall, when these plants are going to need the least amount of water.

11. Weed your garden regularly. By weeding regularly, you will remove other plants that are competing with your own plants for water, which will in turn mean that you need to water your garden less.

12. Choose any water features that you install in your garden carefully. While everyone loves the sound of trickling water, if the water is running too fast, there is the chance that you will lose a lot of it while it bounces out of the water feature or evaporates.

13. Don’t over-water your lawn. Usually lawns only need to be watered once every 3-5 days. When you are using a sprinkler, don’t forget that it’s on. Use a timer to remind you to shut if off, if you need to.

14. Use mulch in your garden instead of soil. Much helps with the absorption of water, and prevents it from evaporating as quickly as may otherwise happen.

15. When watering plants, make sure you are watering the base of the plant, where the water can quickly get to your roots. By watering the leaves of the plant, your plant is less likely to get the water that it needs, and it will more easily evaporate.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Herb Garden

Living in an apartment, I didn’t have the space for an all-out garden – I didn’t even have a balcony where I can make a container garden. I did, however, have a LOT of counter space in my kitchen, especially behind my sink, where I had a good foot of space between my sink and my window. I took good advantage of this counter space over the first few years living in that appartment, but my favourite use of it, because of the amount of sunlight I got, was for my little herb garden.

I will admit that this was my first foray into real gardening – other than the occasional potted plant, I hadn’t really had any real desire to take care of plants before. But herb gardens, as I see it, are extremely multi-purpose. Not only did they add a bit of life and colour to my stark white kitchen, but I can use the plants for cooking as well, and as cooking is one of my favourite things to do, that was the main attraction to starting an herb garden.

I have discovered that herb gardening is extremely easy to do. My plants require very little maintenance - really only to be watered when the soil gets dry. How much I water my herb garden varies depending on the time of the year – last summer I found I had to water them once every couple of days, but during the winter I only had to water them about once a week. I use fertilizer in the water every once in a while, and this helps the plants to grow better, but other than watering and fertilizer, I don’t really have to do much to maintain my herb garden.

As far as what I grew, oregano, rosemary and thyme were always my favourites, and although I had thought about expanding my herb garden to include basil, I never really ended up doing so. I bought some of the herbs from nurseries to plant, and I’ve also grown some of my own from seeds – obviously, buying herbs from nurseries is a lot easier than attempting to grown your own from seeds. You don’t have to wait for the seeds to germinate, and you can start enjoying the plant almost immediately. As far as planting seeds goes, I’ve had mixed results. Half the time it works wonderfully – my oregano grew from seeds I planted, and it is extremely gratifying to know that I grew it all on my own. On the other hand, a couple other times I’ve tried to grow thyme from seeds, and for some reason that never worked well for me. I could never keep them alive, in the odd chance that they actually DID germinate, which was very frustrating. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, or what, but I ended up buying some already-grown thyme at a garden centre and just planting that instead of attempting the seeds for a fourth time. If I had decide to expand my garden to include basil as well, I think I would definitely be buying a plant from a nursery or garden center.