Green Living – Being Waterwise in the Garden

Designing your home’s irrigation system to be waterwise would not only conserve water but also save you money on your next water bill. Approximately 100 kilolitres a year can be saved by replacing 100 m2 of well maintained turf with paving or synthetic grass, or 50 kilolitres a year by replacing this area with a waterwise garden.

If you want to install an automatic irrigation system, install one with a rain sensor. These devices monitor or respond to soil moisture and prevent the controller from switching the irrigation on. Rain sensors vary in price, but a good one is less than $100.

Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and manure to the soil to improve water retention, plant health and soil structure. This is one of the most important steps in making your garden drought-tolerant. Remember, the healthier your plants are, the more likely they are to withstand drought conditions.

Water your plants in early evening or night, reducing loss by evaporation. About 60% of water is lost if you use fine sprays during the heat of the day – the water either never touches the soil or quickly evaporates as it does. Hand watering can be both relaxing and efficient, especially if you have a trigger nozzle which only allows water to leave the hose when it is pressed.

Undertake regular maintenance. While automatic watering systems allow you to devote time and energy elsewhere, if you do not occasionally check the system, you may be pouring money down the drain. Breaks, leaks, broken fittings and split pipes are common mishaps and much water can be wasted especially if irrigation is under pressure.

As seasons change so does the watering requirements of your plants. You may find that watering one day a week is all that is needed during autumn and spring, and then maybe twice-a-week during summer, as permitted by the Water Corporation, for most garden plants.

We can still enjoy lush gardens; it just involves common sense, adequate soil conditions and suitable reticulation equipment. We stock and sell a range of waterwise irrigation products, rainwater tanks and greywater systems.

Waterwise Reticulation

Water usage in gardens accounts for around 35% of domestic water consumption. As the effects of climate change start to take effect, it makes sense to reassess our water usage in the garden. Standard reticulation is far from efficient. Evaporation loss from wind and the sun can be as much as 60%. Water restrictions mean that you can only water 2 days a week from scheme water.

We can still enjoy lush gardens; it just involves common sense, adequate soil conditions and suitable reticulation equipment. New technology in reticulation involves being able to direct the water straight to the root zone of the plants, reducing wastage to areas that don’t require water. Drip emitters can be placed along a pipe at the required spacing for the existing plants. Drippers can come in a range of flow rates, so that mixed plantings can be matched to their water requirements.

Dripline irrigation in a veggie garden

Inline drip pipe can also be used to irrigate a garden or lawn. The pipe is laid down in either a grid pattern across the garden, or it can be weaved around the garden, only covering the essential root zones of the plants.

Mulch is spread across the garden to a depth of 100 mm, reducing water loss by evaporation from wind and sunshine to almost nothing. This also reduces competition and wastage to weeds as well, making maintenance in the garden less time consuming.

Lawns

By using a root prevention chemical in the watering system, or drip pipe that is wrapped in geo-textile fabric, subsurface lawn irrigation can be set up using dripper tube as well. These two methods mean that the drip emitters in the pipe are protected from roots growing into the outlet, causing blockages.

Drip tube is available in a number of sizes. 5 mm tube can be used in small areas and raised garden beds. 13 mm and 17 mm tube is used over larger areas and under lawns, as it allows greater pipe run lengths. Drip outlet sizes are rated at 1.9 L/hr and 3 L/hr for clean water sources.

Display case showing the dripline irrigation underneath lawn

For bore water and grey water recycling, outlets are rated at 8 L/hr. The larger outlet allows for particles in dirty water to pass through.

In all cases, filters are recommended. Also recommended are line flushing valves and vacuum release valves. The vacuum release valves allow air into the system, preventing sand or organic matter being sucked into the drip outlet when the water is turned off.

Line flushing valves allow a certain amount of water to flow out of the end of the pipe when the water is first turned on, allowing any build up of residues to be removed from the pipe.

Soil type will affect the way the pipe work is set out. In clay soils, you can have a larger space between the drip lines, as the water tends to spread through the upper soil layers more than it soaks down. In sandy soils, the water will soak down quicker than it spreads, so drippers will need to be placed closer together.

The inline drip tube comes with an array of different spacing’s. 30 cm spacing is the most common. 5 mm drip tube can be spaced at 15 cm, 30 cm and 50 cm. The larger pipe sizes can be spaced up to 1 m.

At Water Installations Pty Ltd, we supply a range of options for waterwise reticulation. We also have accredited water wise installers.

Other options for waterwise reticulation include recycling the greywater from your laundry, shower and bath.

Water Installations can also show you a number of systems that have Health Department approval for the use of greywater in Western Australia.

Solar Energy For Green Living

As non-renewable energy sources are used up, it is becoming important for people to find alternative sources for their homes. Prices are likely to rise higher and higher as non-renewable sources of energy become rare. The Energy Information Administration in the USA has suggested that if just four percent of the worlds desert were covered in solar panels then the power requirements of the entire world would be taken care of.

How does solar energy work?

Its all about the sun! Photovoltaic cells turn the heat from the sun into electricity by releasing electrons in the cells. Usually a photovoltaic cell is made from a semi-conductor material. When electrons are released in the cells they are attracted to a positively charged element in the cell, and the movement of electrons across the cell creates a direct current (DC). The direct current can be stored in the cell or transferred to an alternating current (AC).

Different types of solar energy systems

Currently solar energy is most effective in areas where there is a reliable amount of sunlight during the day. This does not mean that solar energy is only effective in sunny climates, however. Some systems can be used to store electricity that is generated during the day in a battery and then release that energy at a later time. These systems are useful as the majority of the electricity used during the world occurs after the sun goes down. Other systems are connected to the National Grid. These systems take energy supplied from the sun and use this energy first to power the home; any excess energy is supplied to the Grid.

How effective are solar panels?

Effectiveness is determined in a slightly different way to traditional energy systems – although the numbers are expressed as a percentage. If an oil fire is 75% efficient, this means that it converts 75% of the fuel to useful energy; meaning that 25% of the usable energy is ‘wasted’. However, if a solar panel is 75% effective this means that 75% of the solar energy is converted to electricity, however, there is no wasted energy as the solar energy is free of charge to the user. Modern solar panels have an efficiency rating of about 40%.

The future

Technicians are working to create solar panels that have double the current efficiency rating. These new panels work in a similar way to conventional solar panels. The Earth absorbs energy from the sun during the day and releases it during the night. This energy is released as infra-red radiation during the night. New solar panels will be able to convert sunlight to electricity during the day, and harness the power of infra-red radiation during the night. Many street lights and small electrical systems are already running on this type of power. With recent developments in technology, this trend is set to continue as more and more of our electricity is generated from cost-effective solar energy.

Green Living – Tips For Achieving Big Savings With a Water Barrel

Water barrels are a simple, inexpensive and ecologically safe method to counteract water shortages in arid environments, lower utility bills, and to achieve dramatic garden growth. Civilizations have used rain barrels for thousands of years. To get you started, here are a few simple tips for achieving big savings with a water barrel.

1. Choose a place that is in near to your downspout. Although flexible hoses are available, they can add to the installation cost.

2. Make sure that you have an adequate base. The barrels are large, heavy when full, and could sink or tip in the soil when full.

3. Determine your need before installation. There are many rain barrel calculators online that do this automatically for you based on your roof size. A general estimate is that for every inch of rain, per 1,000 square feet of roof, 600 gallons of water can be collected. Plan accordingly, install the proper amount of barrels, and prevent the run-off from overflowing the sewage system, our lakes and rivers. Run-off water is the leading cause of erosion. We lose about 1 percent of our topsoil each year to rain. Also the more you collect the more you can use. Installing the correct amount of water barrels will not only save you more money, but save the environment.

4. Make sure that you install a screened louver to prevent mosquitoes from using your water barrel as their breeding grounds. Mosquitoes carry deadly diseases, like West Nile virus. Mosquitoes will turn your water barrel into a breeding ground if you let them. Protect your family, friends and pets.

5. Make sure to raise your barrel up off the ground slightly to assure that you can access the spigot.

6. Rainwater is the safest water, free of chlorine, fluoride and other harmful chemical. These chemicals are harmful to your soil. In addition, rainwater is soft water and your plants and soil will love it. City water is hard water and effects the pH levels negatively. Any chemicals that you have used on your roof can spoil the advantage that rainwater has. If you have used any chemicals on your roof, allow a couple of rainfalls to pass before collecting. This will wash off excess toxins.

7. If you use a recycled barrel make sure you clean it out thoroughly.

8. Never drink, cook or clean with the water from your water barrel unless it is properly treated.

Home Canning – Healthy and Green Living!

Home Canning in glass jars might seem old-fashioned to a lot of people, but it is a very healthy and green way of living. Its really quite simple and “yes” you CAN do it too!

You will enjoy the rewards of numerous homemade meals and snacks. When you preserve food, you create healthy products that save you time in food preparation, a real blessing given today’s hectic lifestyles. Individual jars are opened and served as is, or used to simplify meal and snack preparation.

We would like to share with you our favorite canning recipes and techniques that have been passed down from several generations. It has always been a way of life for us and instead of running to the grocery store, we made a trip to the basement. Over the years a lot of families have lost the knowledge that once put the pleasure of eating natural, delicious produce available year-round.

You certainly don’t have to live in the country to enjoy the pleasures of canning and it is very gratifying to know that you too can preserve your own food.

One of our family favorites is Home Canning Peaches. I have such fond memories of this as a child. The fresh smell of the fruit and the excitement in the kitchen as everyone helped out. Once in a while my Mother would give me a fresh slice off a peach just before she put it in the jar. It was a real treat and I will never forget those days.

There was one part of this process that I was too young to understand at the time, but it sure is handy to know now. You might have noticed that fruit will turn brown in a short period of time after removing the peel. This reaction is called oxidation and can be prevented by treating the fruit with citric acid and/or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). You will want to follow the manufactures instructions when using these. You can also use a mixture of Lemon Juice and water to accomplish the same thing. All of these are perfectly healthy to use (otherwise we would not use them).

6 Green Living Steps For a Healthier Family and Cleaner Home

Obviously, you are interested on how to make your family go green (because you are reading this article). I’m sure you’re concerned about their health and our nature of course. It’s actually our responsibility to help our nature, likewise on how nature is helping us with our daily needs.

Going green has become the trend these days not just for the sake of having something new to introduce to the public since we all have this responsibility to maintain the safety of this planet. With all the threats that we are imposing due to the harmful chemicals that we’re using in our home cleaning and the like we really should be doing some things that could repay or help rebuild Mother Earth. So while it is not yet too late, we should now make our decent move to save this planet.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to aid our family to go green. Actually its not that simple for kids to memorize all of those things, but keeping them informed all the time will make them more aware of their surroundings and the cleaning product they are using (I actually scare my kids with all types of disease they can get when they are using these unnatural stuffs).

Let’s start with our homes. And by following these simple tips and steps, you can be assured of a cleaner and healthy home for your family:

1. By simply separating degradable from those biodegradable, we can help our nature; especially separating those with chemicals will reduce toxic waste. Also, avoid using these commercial cleaning products. Yes they can clean your home properly and disinfect your dishes and other items but it will also increase your exposure to chemicals.

2. Use natural cleaning products as an alternative. It’s the best way of cleaning your house. These natural cleaning products are cheaper and you can also get the same results like you were using those commercial cleaners. You can make one or buy some; it depends on how busy you are.

3. Reduce the use of electricity. Just unplug unused appliances or switch off light or replace your bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. It may cost more but it will last for years. This way, you are not only saving mother earth but also saving money from electricity bills.

4. Another thing to remember is to recycle old items. This way you can help reduce the use of valuable natural resources. But if you don’t have time to recycle just support recycled products or buy eco-friendly furniture.

5. Joining community projects such as reforesting or even planting at your garden or backyards help in rebuilding our nature. Also, supporting these green cleaning products will build better future for the next generations.

6. The last but not the least is sharing. Share what you have learned and spread it to everybody. Disseminating information properly can be of use. For example; you can buy janitorial cleaning products in bulk and sell them so that more and more people will use these kinds of products. You can even earn money this way while helping save our nature.