Permaculture Earth Artisans


Water Harvesting & Drainage

Often, water is the first aspect of a system Permaculture Artisans considers in its designs. All elements of a site are dictated by their relationship to water. Our designs apply an ecological approach to managing water runoff.

Your plants and trees can continue to thrive throughout times of drought thanks to re-using household greywater and/or harvested rainwater. Many local cities offer incentive programs with rebates, allowing you to save money, while saving water!

Permaculture Artisans will help you gain the most benefit by installing a system that harnesses the full potential of readily available water.

Greywater and Rainwater

Greywater is typically defined as water that’s been used for washing, and may come from washing machines, sinks, showers, and tubs. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food particles, hair, and biodegradable soaps and cleaning products. It’s a wise ecological choice, preserving our precious water resources while also providing a source of water for your landscape, and even contains a certain amount of nutrients.

A 'Laundry-to-Landscape’ greywater system is one of the simplest, most cost effective ways to reuse water. It distributes water from the washing machine out to the landscape, using the pump on your machine and gravity, thereby making it a very low energy, low maintenance approach, that does not require filters or extra pumps.

Rainwater harvesting is another excellent option for reducing water use, while also preventing run-off from becoming stormwater pollution. Wherever water falls from the sky onto our buildings and landscapes, it can be collected, stored, redirected, and allowed to infiltrate.

Water Infiltration

An approach to drainage and water runoff that seeks to slow, spread, and sink the water into the landscape will provide a multitude of beneficial effects to the site as well as throughout the entire watershed. Water-harvesting systems recharge groundwater aquifers and create mini on-site aquifers, or “water lenses,” keeping water in the landscape far into the dry season. They also mitigate water flowing rapidly across the surface of the land, preventing sediment and accumulated toxins from deteriorating downstream waterways and fish spawning habitats.

Water-harvesting uses a variety of techniques, including terraces, seasonal pools and ponds, water infiltration swales, slow moving waterways, and dry creeks.

Every site has its own specific variables for which observation is required in order to develop appropriate water harvesting techniques. Once the strategy is developed, the process continues with shaping or opening up the soil to encourage water to move slowly across it. Water spreads along these contours or into pools where it sinks into the earth.

Water-harvesting elements in a Permaculture Artisans design always add an aesthetic value to the landscape. They are integrated completely with the overall design and existing elements. These terra-forming techniques also add to the building and retention of topsoil and often become the basis for planting beds, the layout of trees, and other agricultural systems.

There are some situations where water infiltration is NOT the wise choice: near the foundation of a building, on extremely steep slopes (beyond 18% grade), and on slopes that have shallow soils resting on top of bedrock. While infiltration is not appropriate in these cases, erosion can occur if water is not slowed and drained properly. Permaculture Artisans is available for consultation on any of these surface water issues.

Conventional Drainage Problems

Conventional drainage practices usually drain water off of a site as fast as possible. This may be from the misconception that the water will create flooding or erosion problems. In fact, the opposite is true in many cases.

Water that is drained in pipes, culverts, and other impervious materials accumulates and increases in velocity. When water is drained off a property too fast it can create erosion, release sediment into streams and rivers, and compound floodwaters.


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