Instructables

Make a pot trough for saving water on your deck

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Picture of Make a pot trough for saving water on your deck
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In the great supercity of Auckland, NZ we now have to pay not only for the water that is reticulated into our property, but also for reticulating it out (the "wastewater charge" is based on how much comes in rather than how much goes out through the wastewater system, so even if you use most of your water on your garden, you still pay a wastewater fee). There is debate about the justice of this, but here's a way we're reducing costs by reducing the water coming in*. 

Watering potted plants is more efficient if they have trays under them, but the thirsty ones run out faster than the others. Putting them all in the same "tray" means they can share.
In our case, this project also helps hide the untidiness under the deck...

*We're also using our shower and bath water to irrigate a "compost biomass" garden (comfrey, sugarcane, culinary ginger, etc).

Step 1: Materials and tools

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Materials:
timber 
polythene (the thicker the better)
duct tape (gaffer, duck, etc)
nails
hose fittings (see picture)
staples

Tools:
hammer
saw
drill (preferably electric)
holesaw
scissors
craft knife (although a decent pair of scissors would be better)
hose/watering can/bucket
staplegun


Step 2: Prepare deck and build frame

For this project, we started small as determined by the length between two deck uprights - enough for eight medium pots. I used timber I had to hand, but obviously you could make this look even better.

The deck need not be sanded smooth, but it is important to check for unseated nails, splinters* and rough spots. Naturally you should do this before building the frame, but hey.

*Cheapo deck timber, but has lasted over 20 years.
 
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OmnivoreNZ5 months ago

Lasiandra stakes? Is that Salix Lucida Lasiandra (willow)?

Good 'ible. Why the Wombles-in-Charge don't charge us by volume for water here in Christchurch, I'll never understand.

finton (author)  OmnivoreNZ5 months ago

Thanks for the comment Omnivore. No, it is not willow. It is aka Tibouchina*.

How do you get charged for water if not by volume?

* http://www.calyx.com.au/tibouchina.html

jtpoutdoor1 year ago
it is (but of course) HHGTTG by the inimitable Douglas Adams- I could probably give you a page number (or even the episode from original radio series ) if we'd unpacked the boxes holding the book or the tapes yet!
But what is a "dog's bone eating towel????"
Like it, will adapt for my own planters
finton (author)  jtpoutdoor1 year ago
And the winner is: jtpoutdoor!! Thanks for the comment, mate - I look forward to seeing your adaptations. The " dog's bone-eating-towel" is what protects our carpet from Molly's bone chewing. I'll post a pic in the next few days.
Who will be first with the actual HHGTTG quote?
finton (author)  finton1 year ago
A dog's bone-eating-towel.
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rncbme finton1 year ago
Boy, I'm glad our kids/pups weren't in here to see the 'dedicated bone towel', they'd all want one of their own :). Great instructable. I have considered using half of a large pvc pipe in a similar manner.
finton (author)  rncbme1 year ago
Thanks, rncbme. Molly knows we don't eat our bones on the carpet, but does "forget" now and then. If the bone's a good one then "On the mat. Molly, I said on the mat!" usually works, otherwise if the bone's already pre-chewed it's "Molly, on the mat. On the mat! Molly, I said on the mat! On The Mat!! Oh you stupid dog!!!" Then you chuck the bone outside while she wags her tail expectantly, waiting for whatever your about to get her that's better (which I don't of course).
The large half pipe would certainly make the project simpler, but the curve would surely mean that a lot of the water would be out of reach of the roots, no?
rncbme finton1 year ago
If you use pots this is true. My original thought was to fill the pipe with soil and plant something like strawberries. I was going to put rocks or gravel on the bottom of the pipe so the water could flow and the roots would not be prone to rot. Needless to say, I haven't actually done it yet. I'll let you know how it works out. Hello to Molly.
djgarner1 year ago
In the state (Mobile, AL) we have a separate meter installed for things such as swimming pools and lawn watering. That way you don't have to pay a sewer fee on the water you use that is not processed back through the waste water system. Simple solution, otherwise you are being exploited by the powers that be.
finton (author)  djgarner1 year ago
Nice! How do the authorities get around people who secretly divert water from the separate meter to the house system, like for flushing toilets?
I am not sure about that one. But many homes have 2 or 3 separate meters for different uses. It seems the only logical and fair way to allow you to use water without stiffing you for the cost of the waste water plant.
Our city in Texas requires you to put your pool on the home water just in case you ever pumped it out - ha ha. Only the sprinklers are to be attached to that meter a little savings.
diy_bloke1 year ago
In the netherlands, where we have an abundance of water, we have that same system. Unless you can prove that you are not flushing the water throught the drainpipe, you have to pay about as much for disposing of the water as for getting the water. Though I try to save water out of principle, financially it is hardly rewarding as the major part of my waterbill is formed by duties, levies and taxes :-) Even when I when I halved my waterintake, it hardly made a dent in my annual bill.
Nevertheless, your idea is a very good one
finton (author)  diy_bloke1 year ago
Well, you're right, of course, diy_bloke. There are fixed charges for us too, but in summer the ratio for us drops dramatically from a winter ratio of 33% to a summer ratio of 20% (last month). I expect this month's bill to drop that ratio even further.
Obviously, if one has to spend a substantial amount of money on saving water, one also has to work out the payback time. There are other factors to consider though, like what happens in a water shortage, lesser need for more water supply dams, rising costs of water, and so on.
i understand. just that on a yearly base the fixed charges are so much bigger than the actual cost per liter, that the savings on water hardly make a dent. With water being about 1-2 ct per 10 liter (not sure exactly anymore) and me using 15m3/year is abt 15-30 euro per year on a 350 euro bill. I came down from 30 m3 so with simple measures (as the ones you propse) I saved about 15-30 euro per year.
If I wanted to do some other methods, like using rainwater: a simple rainbarrel will cost me 180 euro's and will store 200 liters of water. 200 liters is 40 cts worth of water. Ofcourse I could use and fill it a couple of times say 10 times a year, that is 4 euro's per year, so it would cost me 45 years to regain that investment.

Dont get me wrong, I applaud yr idea and I have been using similar idea's. Just wanted to point out that in some countries, any investrmant to save water is foolish. Therefore I just do it out of principle and on the cheap as much as possible.

For other countries that ofcourse may be a completely different cost picture
finton (author)  diy_bloke1 year ago
Yeah, sorry mate, I wasn't questioning your point, which is a very valid one. I've just had a look at our latest bill and our water is about 1.3 cents per 10L: given the current conversion rate, that's 0.01 euros, so about the same as you.

As our fixed charges are a smaller percentage of the total, we stand to save more than you, as you suggest, especially since our water bill graph shows the two of us were suddenly, in January, using twice as much water (because of watering the veges and pots).

The amount of money we'd save by using this project is small, but like you we do some of these things out of principle, and all the bits were free or already on hand.

One major advantage of the trough, if we stop looking at the initial cost, is that the plants no longer wilt as easily, look good all the time, and we don't have to bother watering them as often; that's worth money in my mind!

Thanks for the feedback.
rowan631 year ago
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
finton (author)  rowan631 year ago
There it is: the quote itself! Points. Take a look at dustoof's comment, also, for what is probably an exhaustive summary of HHGTTG towel references.
qewt1 year ago
Love your instructable, but not knowing what a riser is kinda spoils the fun... and prolly the point of the whole installation :)

(dog's a good dog, yes she's a totally utterly good dog!)
finton (author)  qewt1 year ago
Fair enough, avisser. I'll edit the 'ible to suit. Thanks for the feedback. The riser certainly is an important part as it controls the amount of water sitting in the trough.
dustooff1 year ago
My summary of towels and their behaviour as described by DNA.
book1 THHGTTG. "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels." ... 2 paragraphs removed due to Megadodo fine print in the 'guide' ending with "There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."
book3 LTUAE. When riding a building in flight it can be useful to put your towel over your head to restrict vision to nil. Standing in the middle of a cricket pitch can make you confused about minor details of your towel, and is likely to draw others in to an argument that has no conclusion. When learning to fly , be careful not to take on too much baggage you may end up with more towels than are useful.
book4 SLATFATF. When departing any spaceship, make sure your towel is not left in the overhead luggage compartment, or has slid down the back of your seat.
Ol' Janx Spirit is an effective additive when running your towel through the laundry.
Books and zines have a habit of nesting among half used towels. Mega-market bags, if you don't intend to lose artefacts attributed to them, should be lined with your towel.
When doing a sound check in a small spaceship, a towel can be used to reduce the sharpness of certain pre-recorded messages, be careful of over damping.
Several towels can be a good addition to bunk bedding, but may not be a cure for insomnia. When starting impromptu trips across the galaxy, some seconds can be saved by pre-packing your travel bags with the required towel.
book5 MH. A towel can be used to avoid explaining expense accounts to lobby robots.
If you ever intend making a statement that includes the word 'billion' half a dozen times, having a towel handy by your side may prove useful.
Being given a towel on your seventh birthday proves that you are ready to go out and face the galaxy, but not to say that you should go looking in any vortexes quite yet.
Wrapping your fist in a towel could be advantageous in some situations, but perhaps using a brick would be quicker. Aspirations of being a matador can be assisted by your trusty towel, preferably brightly coloured, but still no substitute for a pikka bird.
Last of all 'A simple towel is a happy towel.'
finton (author)  dustooff1 year ago
Wow. Just... wow. I'll confess to thinking of only the reference in THHGTTG, but: wow. You, sir, are legend!
"That hoopy Zaphod! Now there's a frood who knows where his towel is!"