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Jilly Offline OP
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This week I worked on a new 'water feature' for my backyard. I already have my grey water hose set up from my studio, but now I did something to make it super easy to reuse this water in my garden.

I did have the hose going from my kitchen sink/washing machine going into my bamboo patch - pretty much just going right into the water table. Which is fine and a good use of grey water.

Grey water is the non-fecal water from non toilet uses BTW. wink
And I am careful about what i pour into my sink.

My new water feature was basically a hole in the ground where the hose terminates. I lined the hole with flat rocks from my yard and then placed a plastic bucket in the rock-lined hole. Now the hose empties into the bucket.

This makes it really simple to use the grey water on my yard, wherever I want it. I usually dump this water on my fruit trees and vines.

The used sink water is kind of stinky, so it behooves me to empty this daily. It's a little bit of nice outdoor activity, so it's good for me to lift, carry and pour this each day.

I can also pour this water into my compost pile, or on certain garden plants that don't mind a whole lot of nutrients at once.

The hole doesn't look bad and i call it my 'water feature'. It cost all of zero to make. I had a bucket and the rocks, and a shovel to dig the hole. I already had the hose.

Anyone else use grey water, reuse their water somehow, or are thinking about it?


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Jilly Offline OP
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I should take a photo of this thing, huh?

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Jilly Offline OP
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Today I did a medium sized load on laundry (cold temps) and used the resulting grey water on my fruit trees. This is so exciting. I love being able to take a 'waste' product and use it as rich nutrients for something else.

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Jilly Offline OP
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BTW, I have recently learned that if one is using their laundry greywater for plants, it's best to not use boron (borax). That is toxic to plants. You'll want to keep the salts down, too, unless you have salt-fixing plants.

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Jilly Offline OP
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I am doing a large load of laundry today and did some presoaking in rainwater (with a little detergent) overnight. I used that rainwater to fill the tub for the soaking cycle, so basically I saved myself however many gallons get used on the first filling of the washing machine.

Now I am being careful to note the beginning of the next cycle that will spill into the grey water soak hole in my yard. I pretty much run around and water things as my bucket fills up with the laundry water. It's kind of a fun activity - I get to move around with heavy little buckets and water my plants - so it counts as exercise. smile

Then I have to run around and do it again for the rinse cycle. I only do one rinse cycle. To make sure my clothes are fully rinsed I use a small amount of detergent. Most of us use too much. You don't need to see bubbles to know it's working. Actually the bubbles do nothing to clean clothes - that whole thing is a myth.

So instead of using more soap and more water to rinse, I just do a good presoaking the night before a wash. Presoaking is really the way to go for really getting the grime out.

As a result of all this, I spend less on laundry detergent, less on my water bill, and get to reuse all that free greywater in my yard instead of needing to pay for water from my tap. Win, win, win.

I do make sure to use a detergent with no phosphates. Even the name brand detergents are switching to no phosphates, so it's not hard to find an eco-safe laundry detergent. WHen this runs out i will start experiments with making my own detergent.

Last edited by Jilly; 05/06/12 09:03 PM.
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Jilly Offline OP
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One thing i noticed is that when your greywater empties into a bucket or other open container, it will start to smell by the end of the day. I make a point to empty my bucket morning and night. The plants love it. I just pour it out before it starts getting rancid smelling.

Having the drain hose empty right into a mulch basin is one way to avoid the bucket thing, and you then just let the water soak back into the water table. It's good for the environment either way.

Just make sure not to pour toxins down your sink! (which no one should do anyway)

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I carried water for a few years when I first came to Arkansas, many years ago. It didn't take long to figure out how to get by without using as much water as I used to when all I had to do was turn the tap to get it. You learn very quickly to use the water more than once to keep from having to carry anymore than necessary. I've got an easier answer for your grey water maintenance dilemma.

Build a raised bed garden area four foot wide and eight feet long, twelve inches deep and line it with pond liner or six mil. plastic. Take a four inch piece of pvc perforated pipe the length of the garden glue a pvc elbow at one end that extends upward, place in the bottom of the garden area. Add a solid piece of pvc pipe to the top of the elbow and extend to about two inches above the top of the garden box height. Add a layer of washed river rock size 1 inch or larger, to fill six inches deep up and over the pvc pipe. This is where you pipe in the grey water to fill the garden reservoir. The pipe allows the water to flow evenly throughout the whole garden area without interruption.

To the top of the rock add a filter cloth across the whole area securing to the sides. Drill from the outside of raised bed material, about half inch to three quarters inch hole at just below the top of the rock level to allow for water over flow. Push a piece of pvc pipe the size of the hole you drilled, through the drilled hole to allow excess water an exit route. Make sure a rock doesn't block the overflow pipe.

Mix equal amounts of Peat moss, vermiculite, and compost to fill the six inches of raised bed that's left open. Plant either flowers or vegetable plants. depending on the size one to nine per square foot, to fill the garden area.

This way the plants use less water then when it's poured on top of the ground around them, and you don't lose any to evaporation.
The plants will use the water that flows under the soil for the nutrients it provides and filters the water itself and you don't ever have to carry the water! Any overflow will drain out, so you don't have to worry about the plants drowning from any large amounts of rain or more than one load of laundry.

It's not expensive to build and will last along time. In fact the veggie's it produces will out weigh the initial cost in no time.


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Jilly Offline OP
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Jackie, that is a great plan! Sounds like a good project. Thank you for sharing what works for you! Do you have a photo of your system? I'd love to see it.

For me, I actually like the lugging and hauling. It's a free gym workout. I make sure to use my legs for lifting and not my back, and carry the water close to my torso. Weight bearing activities are good for you. smile

For people who aren't very strong or have back issues, i can see where my system simply would not work.


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