How to Use Grey Water in Your Garden to Cope Up with Water Restriction

How to Use Grey Water in Your Garden to Cope Up with Water Restriction

Jun 24th 2024

Have you witnessed your treasured plants struggle with an extreme heat wave or a summer drought, only to wilt and die? With soaring high temperatures and a lack of rainfall, outdoor watering restrictions or an outright ban on water usage can be imposed.

Water conservation and sustainability are the concepts of general interest that prevent us from mindlessly wasting water. So, for your dying garden plants, what is the most effective and legal way to quench their thirst? It's the use of grey water for their irrigation.

Read on as we explain grey water's definition and offer tips on using it in your garden.

What is Grey Water?

Despite having an unappealing name, grey water is the savior of your garden plants.

Grey water is water from bathtubs, washing machines, bathroom basins, and kitchen cleaning products. It is sometimes confused with wastewater. Grey water can be used as a water supply for your garden to save fresh water and money.

Some contaminants are present in grey water containing soap and detergent. Fortunately, soil can filter these out; some constituents can even act as mild fertilizers.

However, water from toilets and kitchen sinks that contains harmful chemicals and solids is called black water. It is not used to irrigate domestic garden plants.

Benefits of Using Grey Water for Irrigation

There are multiple benefits of replacing your tap water with grey water for domestic plants. Some of them are:

  • Water Conservation: You can conserve water because it reduces the demand for freshwater supplies.
  • Cost Savings: Your water bill will be reduced with less water usage.
  • Eco-Friendly: Low water usage promotes sustainable living and lessens the burden on sewage treatment facilities.

An Efficient Grey Water System

A greywater system can be used instead of a typical irrigation system to reduce water usage.

Typically, a greywater system pipes water from washing machines (and other sources) to plants and fruit trees. Washing machine drainage is enough to water garden plants. Generally, one load of clothes generates 15-40 gallons of greywater, which is enough for one-time irrigation.

You can, however, make your own do-it-yourself grey water system easily with some tools.

Types of Grey Water Irrigation Systems

There are three types of greywater irrigation systems:

1. Unpowered systems

An unpowered system contains simple funnel inserts (for draining baths) and in-line diverters, which are placed into an external bathroom or laundry wastewater piping.

You can set it up by joining an unslotted drainage pipe to the diverter and attaching a 3-4 m section of slotted drainage pipe on the other end. Run the pipe to the area to be watered, following the slope of the land. This type of system is suitable for watering turf.

2. Surge tanks

Surge tanks hold water before distribution to the lawn or garden as they lower water speed and temperature before it reaches the plants.

It can:

  • Minimize backflow problems.
  • Decrease water travel speed to the garden.
  • Prevent runoff and soil erosion.

To set it up, a 30-100L bin or similar container is recommended. Connect the pipe or dripline to the surge tank and lay the pipe on top of the soil and under mulch.

Remember, it is not a storage tank; greywater cannot be stored for more than 24 hours, so drain it off after each cycle.

3. Pumped systems

Pumped greywater systems are pricey setups compared to the previous two. Its components include a surge tank with a pump and an outdoor electrical outlet.

These systems are important because they pump water from lower to higher gradients. They are mostly used for gardens located above the height of a house. However, pumped systems need to be properly maintained with filters to prevent blockages.

Working of A Grey Water System

Before understanding how to use grey water in your garden, knowing how it works is essential. A grey water system has the following important functions on the basis on which it works:

1. Filtration

First things first: right after water is released from the source, it must be filtered to remove the dirt and debris it contains.

A biofilter removes grease and oils from grey water, and a coarse filter eliminates dirt, dust, and other impurities. The latter usually contains two gravel layers (for larger particles) and one sand layer (for finer ones).

2. Storage

Secondly, if you want to store your grey water for future use, you can use storage spaces.

Tanks and overflow devices store water for later use. Tanks should be sealed off, as grey water contains microbes that can be harmful to humans if exposed.

Pro tip: Avoid using greywater on fruits and use it only on roots with drip irrigation.

How to Use Grey Water in Your Garden

Still wondering how to use grey water in your garden. Now that we have discussed the details comprehensively, let's break it down into simple steps.

Step 1: Check City Regulations

Before starting, ensure your procedure complies with local building codes and health regulations regarding greywater use.

Step 2. Choose Your Greywater System

Choose from the two irrigation systems discussed above, unpowered and pumped.

Step 3. Install a Surge Tank

A surge tank is recommended for both unpowered and powered systems. It temporarily holds water, slowing and cooling it before distribution.

Step 4. Filter Your Greywater

Remember to have a proper filtration system with the following filter layers:

  • Bottom: Gravel
  • Middle: Sand
  • Top: Gravel

Tip: Place a screen above the top layer to simplify maintenance.

Step 5. Distribute the Water

Decide how to distribute the filtered greywater in your garden. For areas needing frequent watering, you can use direct piping or a holding tank to store water for further use.

Drip Irrigation System

Drip irrigation systems are an excellent way to utilize greywater and provide nutrients to crops efficiently. These systems deliver water directly to the roots of plants, minimizing water loss due to evaporation and runoff.

This system conserves water and ensures that your plants receive consistent, targeted hydration. So, it is useful at times of water restrictions.

Some of the perks of using a drip irrigation system are:

  • Water Efficiency: Uses 50% less water than traditional irrigation methods.
  • Soil Health: Prevents erosion and maintains soil structure by delivering water slowly and evenly.
  • Plant Health: Directly hydrates plant roots, reducing water stress and promoting healthier growth.

Wrapping It Up

We have discussed the nitty-gritty of gardening using grey water and discovered how it is the only way forward to reduce water and money loss. To make your garden sustainable, find the best drip irrigation supplies and equipment that will easily utilize grey water in safe ways.

Dripworks is your trusted partner in sustainable gardening. We offer a wide range of drip irrigation products suitable for all types of gardens and greywater systems. Our experienced team is ready to assist you with selecting the right fittings and tubing for your system. Reach out to us today or explore our catalog for a greener and more sustainable gardening experience!