Using greywater to irrigate your backyard or garden isn’t a new idea – but it is definitely one worth recycling. Many homes built outside the city limits have an outlet for washing machine water that leads to the backyard. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry it doesn’t take much to reroute your water to help irrigate your landscape.
Setting up a greywater system is as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Find your washing machine plumbing fixtures
These can be rerouted from the sewer system. If your plumbing is in an easy location, this may be a simple DIY project. If not, you may need to call in a plumber. Be sure you know the building codes in your area or hire an expert if you are not familiar with plumbing.
2. Install greywater system
This can be a simple hose that leads to your garden, or it can be an elaborate irrigation system that waters your entire yard. Let your budget set the complexity of the project.
3. Do the laundry
This may be the most tedious step. After all, it requires repeating week after week.
Laundry water may have some miscellaneous items from your clothes, such as soap, lint or hair, but don’t worry they won’t harm your veggies. And, a simplistic approach with no filtration system is the most economical.
If you are planning for a single hose line for irrigation, you may be finished fairly quickly. These systems may require a more hands-on approach down the road, but if low cost is important to you, this may be your solution. If you choose to go with a single hose system, be sure that you recognize when you use greywater. If you are not in tune with how much water you are putting on your lawn or garden, you can cause runoff and can overwater precious plants.
Complex Irrigation System
Elaborate systems will require a little more planning and upfront work, but they payoff can be worth it in the long term. Complex irrigation systems can also take advantage of shower water and water from sinks and tubs. You can locate your branched drain system within the home and reroute these fixtures so that they drain outside. Once outside, the water can be subdivided into multiple pipes to irrigate several areas. Remember that most systems are built on gravity so sloping even complex irrigation systems is critical to their continued use.
There are also several proprietary systems on the market for complex systems. Be sure to research these if you are looking for a complex system.
Common pitfalls with greywater use
Greywater should be used within 24 hours of initial use. Do not store recycled water for longer.
Also, you cannot use greywater in sprinkler systems. If you are considering using greywater, install the correct piping and irrigation systems. Do not rely on an in-ground system already set up for freshwater.
Lastly, use gravity to your advantage. Over complicated systems can fail and cause you more heartache down the road.
Be sure you thoroughly research building codes, seek local professional help and have a plan before your start installing your greywater system. The rewards can have a huge payoff.