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Landscaping & Grey water projects.

Updated on August 5, 2017
Nadine May profile image

Nadine was born in Holland and emigrated to South Africa in 1971. She has always been an entrepreneur and is a self taught artist .

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Our Rain and Grey Water harvesting project

This article is partly about building a grey water system while landscaping a plot on sloping ground.

Grey water means water from showers, wash basins and baths. This water can be used during dry summer months in areas where there is little rainful, if any. With the help of photos I am showing examples of what we did in the Western Cape in South Afroca for anyone who is interested.

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The before and after landscaping project

In the article on how dream visions become real I shared the start of our own landscaping idea that would one day help us to get off the grid so to speak. This means that we would have our own water for the garden by collecting rainwater during the winter months to sustain our plants in the dry season from January to April.

This means that we would have our own water for the garden by collecting rainwater during the winter months and grey water from our showers and baths. To be off the grid also means to create our own electric power through installing solar panels and a wind generator. Since we live against a mountain and higher up, a wind generator would be a great solution.

We began with the landscaping of our plot with a grey water system in mind.

Before and After

The 'before and after photos' gives an idea about how we created three small ponds. These were to take the rainwater from the roof of the free standing cottage. The rainwater is collected in a water tank under the deck and from there the water flows through recycled plastic pipes into three seperate ponds.

The following photos are about the landscaping job on sloping ground.

Small ponds

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Grey water project

The pipes directing the rainwater from the three little ponds had to be buried under our picnic spot to yet another pond on the way to an underground water tank.

The plans is to get a pump to pump the rainwater in the underground tank up fifteen meters to be stored in a 5000 Liter tank.

Have you ever done any landscaping?

See results

Our before and after picnic spot

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Several Picnic spots in the garden

I’ve always liked gardens that have corners where you can sit and entertain friends. On one of our trips to town we drove past a thatched roof garden furniture company and knew immediately what was missing; a spot in the garden where we could have enough room for six people to sit, away from the hot sun. We negotiated with the man who made them to come to our place to see if he could build a similar seating arrangement to the drawing I had already made. I learned by now that whatever I visualized in my mind I had to be put onto paper for others to see.

Building the picnic gazebo

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A Paved walkway up to the cottage

The pathway past the new picnic area would lead to the entrance to Titanya's cottage, so we incorporated some wood next to the paving to make it wider.

When the ivy was pulled away we discovered a large boulder next to the steps up to the cottage. I saw that layout to be a creative spot for my succulent bonsai collection.

Using broken second hand bricks for paving

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Titanya's cottage

Our proerty had a single outside room so we had plans drawn up to make it a double story. The idea was to use it as a short term holliday rental, but in the end we now rent it out full time.

From a single room to a double storey cottage

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Old Pluming Pipes

The next photo shows a preparation for a flat section for a grass lawn.

Creating several levels in our sloping garden gave us lots of space. We even used the old ceramic drain pipes, dating from the forties, and made plant holders from them.

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Titanya's Entertaining corner

On the next level above the grass lawn we created another seating arrangement in the front of the kitchen of the cottage. The paving bricks were found on the property after clearing away ivy.

Our landscaping carried on while a start was made to create a double storey cottage from a one bedroom building. (see slide show)

Second entertainment spot

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Second entertainment spot

By this time the new natural stone wall was finished and the plan was that this wall would retain a level piece of ground for a small lawn.

Creating several levels in our sloping garden gave us lots of space. We even used the old ceramic drain pipes, dating from the forties, and made plant holders from them.

On the following level higher up from the grass lawn we created another seating arrangement in the front of the kitchen of the cottage. The paving bricks Robin is using were found on the property after clearing the bottom plot.

Our landscaping carried on while a start was made to create a double storey cottage from a one bedroom building.

The creation of Titanya’s cottage

The name Titanya was the name of the queen of the fairies, so we felt that the theme of the cottage would have a mystical flavor since it was looking out over the fairy garden.

The draftsman, who did a drawing from the image I created on Photoshop, did a great job and the plan for the cottage was finally approved. While we were still landscaping we could start with the cottage renovations. From a single outdoor room it would become a double story cottage with a small kitchen, a half bathroom, a dining space and lounge downstairs with two single built-in beds and a staircase leading up to the main bedroom with a balcony. We planned to supervise the building our selves.

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A Holiday Hideaway

Any building on a slope must have space around it so rainwater will not seep through the walls but instead run away into the ground, I learned that from being a girl guide when we had to dig a trench around our tent during our camping trips. The same principles apply.

We needed to extend the ground floor of the single room by one meter on two sides in order to add a kitchenette and half bathroom and we went up one storey.

The idea was not to use too much ground, because I wanted to keep most of the property as a garden. Going up would also add to the view of the cottage, and having a small balcony from the bedroom on top would be a great extra bonus for anyone who might like to rent the cottage from us.

Building an enchanted fairy garden

This section of our plot had a special feel about it. It inspired me to build a fairy garden with an open air castle, a Wendy house cottage and a sand pit for our grandchildren. At least that is what I told myself. The real reason was that by creating this fairy garden I reminded myself that what we can visualize and fantasize, we can make real.

It was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done. While building my enchanted garden the child within came out to play.

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Titanya's playground

This playground has become a talking point for our visitors and often they bring their children so they can play there while the adults gather at the picnic spot for coffee or tea.

Every year this fantasy project needs to be restored after heavy rain during the winter months, but I'm glad I created it.

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    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 11 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my post from a few years back Sandy, I thought I replied to you already?

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 11 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Sandy so nice to see your comment on this post about our grey water installations a few years back. They are now coming in handy with the water restrictions we are facing today.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 11 months ago from Frozen Tundra

      Wow...you did a wonderful job updating your home and landscape/

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment PhoenixV.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Welcome to hubpages Kathryn. When I hear from people that there is a ban on rainwater or gray-water collection where they live, I shake my head.We have hardly no rainfall during summer in Cape Town, and watering a garden can be expensive so storing grey water is necessarily if you want to grow herbs and veggies. I will soon publish my next hub about the cottage.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi there welcome to my page and articles Arachnea . Good luck with your harvesting project.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Melody welcome to hubpages. What we can imagine we can make real...

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comments Elsie.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Phyllis you have inspired me to get going onto the following saga of our renovations. Thanks

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 3 years ago from USA

      I have never really thought about, consider or even seen anyone using or incorporating small garden ponds into their rainwater catchment systems. It seems a clever and ingenious idea. Excellent idea and excellent hub.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing your story. What a project! Living in desert country most of my life, and now in drought-beleaguered California, I am keen to learn as much as I can about rainwater and gray-water collection. Amazingly, some municipalities here still do not allow rainwater or gray-water collection. You would think they would do everything they can to encourage both, wouldn't you? But some cities and counties are stepping up and changing their ordinances.

      Thank you for providing this service to anyone who may be contemplating a switch to more sustainable water use practices at home. I look forward to going inside the cottage when you finish your next hub.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      Beautiful. I've been trying to find a great way to harvest rainwater on a small apt patio. I was surprised to find there may be regulations governing the practice. Your landscaping efforts have yielded simply marvelous results. I'll be revisiting this hub.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Very impressive! I wouldn't mind having that enchanted garden myself.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      What a fantastic project, Beautiful, such a lot of hard work, but the end result is worth it. Excellent photos thanks for sharing a garden of paradise.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank goodness I found this hub again -- thanks to AliciaC. I remembered reading it but could not remember the title. I want to send the link to my brother and his new wife who are in the process of redoing/updating/landscaping, etc. I love this hub, Nadine. You did such a beautiful job on it.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Daniel for stopping by this renovation hub.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      You have a lovely garden. It's good you're trying to get off the grid. The pictures are really nice. I clicked on every one of them.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Dear Faith thank you so much for your compliments,vote and sharing. You have inspired me to write more about our property and what it looks like today. This was all done in 2006

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Nadine, your transformation is stunningly beautiful and creative! All of your hard work has paid off to be able to enjoy such a magical place. With all the different levels, I can imagine how difficult it was to just bring up the materials to each level. My grandchildren would just be in awe of your creation, as am I.

      Your photos of the before and after are amazing. Thank you for sharing about your going off the grid in such a beautiful way.

      Voted up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      TreasuresofHeaven...I'm so glad you like my video tour. Thanks for the vote.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Many thanks for your compliment and vote Moonlake.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for stopping by Lady_E

    • Treasuresofheaven profile image

      Sima Ballinger 3 years ago from Michigan

      Simply Beautiful! I enjoyed the video tour as well! You should be very proud of yourself. Voted Up!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      Beautiful gardens so much hard work, but I bet it was fun. Enjoyed you hub very much and will share it. Vote up.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 3 years ago from London, UK

      Absolutely beautiful project. Well done.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Nell many thanks for stopping and your vote.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Wow! Thats absolutely beautiful Nadine! and I loved the video too! The fairy garden was so wonderful, this was amazing! well done for all your hard work, it certainly paid off, I love it! voted all the way!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks again Suzette your comments gives me the urge to work on the next hub on the following renovations.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      I love, love. love the lovely fairy garden. This is fascinating to read and I love the before and after pictures. It is amazing what you are doing with this property and house. It is just beautiful and so imaginative. When you are ready to live there it will be perfect for you I am sure. What an undertaking, but your hard work and clever ideas will make this a great dream house for you. Congratulations on all your hard work and thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you so much for your comments Marie. thanks for your voted up.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      What an extensive make-over, Nadine! I'm so happy for you that you are in tune with your creativity and have the means to express it. The views from the porch-balcony are breath-taking. Your photo and slide show creation are well above my skill level. I enjoyed the video, too. Voted beautiful.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Phyllis I never expected to get so much response on the two hubs on our landscaping and renovation jobs. It has inspired me to post some more. Thanks for sharing

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Audrey. Thank goodness I kept the photos

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Beautiful property. Your project and hard work really paid off, Nadine. You also put this all together in a hub to share and showcase your property. Very well done. Up +++ and shared.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I loved seeing the before and after here--you have done a wonderful job here!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      thanks for your comments. Yes when I now look back I wonder if my energy is still the same!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      What a creative display of energy! I love all your projects and results.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Marieryan nice to meet you from Spain. Thanks for stopping by. By all means if you are visiting Cape Town again let me know well in advance.

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      Marie Ryan 3 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      Beautiful. But what hard work.

      We have just spent a month in the Western Cape, and I loved it.....when we save up enough cash to go back,(may take a while!) we may just contact you to see if your accommodation is still available!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Ik ben echt blij dat jullie mijn artiekel hebben gelezen en gekeken hebben naar de fotos.

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      AUGUSTA ROTTERDAM 3 years ago

      WAUW Jij moet wel heeeel bijzonder zijn om dit allemaal the kunnen!!

      Het ziet er prachtig uit!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you for stopping by and your compliment . Working in a garden is the most inspirational time I can give myself.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      You have some very nice focal points in your garden. I'm impressed with your imagination and hard work.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi DDE thanks for your comment about the creative way to live.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for stopping by Alicia, you have inspired me to look for the photos of the ongoing transformation.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Cecile. It's an ongoing project I will never get tiered off.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great hub! So beautifully accomplished with awesome photos and such a creative way of life.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a wonderful project, Nadine! I love your creativity. The results look great. I'm looking forward to reading more hubs about the transformation.

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      The pictures are beautiful Nadine. I can see that the hard work is paying off. good luck!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you for visiting my page and viewing my photos.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      These are some amazing pictures, Nadine. You have an awesome garden!

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi there again. Thank you for your compliment. Glad I hooked you with my off the grid comment. Thanks for the vote up

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 3 years ago

      Wow, wow, wow.... I love this project. It looks great and is immensely practical. You hooked me with your 'off the grid' remark. Very self sufficient and gorgeous to boot... What can I say? This post is voted up and beautiful. Nice job

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Sage glad you visited my page. Thanks for your compliment. the cottage started out as a self catering cottage, but today we rent it out on a long term basis.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your lovely comments Shauna. The natural landscape of the sloping garden with its boulders guided me to choose where each spot would blend in. Yes we used wood and bamboo for the cottage.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Billy it has been fun writing about our landscaping journey. Not my usual topic.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment and Vote Suzanne.

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      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks Eric

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      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Wow, what an awesome beautiful transformation! Your yard looks great, like a B&B or something. Just perfectly done. Thanks for sharing, you've really inspired me.

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Nadine, the work you've done is amazing. Did you form the focal points in the fairy garden yourself? What materials did you use? The property is absolutely enchanting. It was interesting to see how the cottage was built. It looks like you used natural woods and reeds.

      You really are a very talented visionary, Nadine.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! Very cool, Nadine! You two have been busy. I love your vision for that yard, and the thought of going off the grid. Best of luck to you.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Well done on creating lots of interesting spots in your garden! Fantastic photos and I enjoyed reading about the plans and the overseering. Voted awesome ;)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool.