Made deal with C that I would agree to put in small grass area in backyard if he agreed to help me figure out how to use laundry water and rain water from roof to irrigate it. Reading, thus, to figure this out.
Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Lots of great paragraphs that list connections between plants, insects, etc. This describing a garden that mixes radishes, dill, calendula, lettuce, parsnips, cabbage, and bush beans: "The fast growing radishes cast shade, which keeps the soil moist and cool. This protects slow germinating seeds--particularly the parsnips--from the desiccating sun. Strongly scented dill and calendula will confuse insects searching for tender young radishes. Dill also hosts tiny predatory wasps that attack cabbage loopers. Cabbages, which grow through the fall and into winter, protect the soil from erosion by heavy rains. Beans add nitrogen to the soil. The variety of leaf shapes and root depths minimizes competition for sun, space, and nutrients." (p. 145) Throughout this book long paragraphs of lists like this that attempt to get at systemic. I'm loving the writing style.
Brad Lancaster's Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands: volume 1, Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape. Less lists, more enthusiasm: "Once you start putting this information to work, every rainstorm could pump you with so much excitement and wonder that even if it's 3 am when the clouds break you'll be running outside in your underwear to watch your landscape soaking up water!" (p. 19)
Thinking about berms, nitrogen fixing legumes (and wondering if interplanting with bamboo out back will get it to grow higher and finally do the work of blocking out looming apartment building next door), gravity and the slope of the backyard and if gravity would be strong enough to push collected water through drip irrigation.