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DIY Grey Water Solution for the backyard vegie patch : The Good Soup

DIY Grey Water Solution for the backyard vegie patch

Seeing as I’m in a gardening frame of mind, I’d thought I’d show you the little system Mathew’s rigged up for us to deal with the grey water from our shower and bath. Grey water pumps can cost around $1000, and I haven’t had one that’s lasted more than a couple of years before it’s irreparably busted. Although this DIY solution is a little less graceful, it works really well.

We needed it because the pump broke on the our water tank. And as the water level in the tank got lower and lower (and after I accidentally left the hose from the tank running overnight and managed to empty 6000L of rain water onto a scrap of lawn…), there isn’t enough pressure to water at all. To deal with the absolute minimum of our watering needs, I’ve been collecting water in this motley crew of buckets. Until, finally, Mathew saved me and our garden by doing this:

He got one of these diverters fitted to the drain of our bath. To do this, he cut out a bit of the shower’s waste water pipe, painted on some gloopy blue stuff and let it dry for 24 hours. Then he clipped on a purple grey water hose, as long a piece as we had, making sure it fell downward from the drain, with very gradual ups and downs (nothing too u-bendy) towards the place where we wanted the water to go.

At the edge of the house, we had to use a grey tube ‘connector’ to get some extra length on our purple hose. You might not need to do this. And try not to, because sometimes it bursts open. Not something you want to deal with in the evening after you’ve just cleaned off a day in the garden.

Then Mathew rigged up an old piece of gutter, which now runs down the centre of one of our garden beds, at a very slight angling towards its end. Before we lay it in this position (it’s just sitting on wooden brackets screwed into wooden stakes, but you could probably just rest it on the ground), we hammered some holes the whole length of the gutter’s base- about 10cm apart and on both sides of the centre line of the gutter.

Then we fed the purple hose into the end of the gutter and held it in place with some wire.

As long as the hose doesn’t get kinked, the water from our showers and baths drains freely through the purple hose and down the whole length of the gutter, watering the entire length of the garden bed. The center plants benefit the most, but that just means I need to water the edge plants a little. Much less time consuming than wetting the whole bed with a hand held hose.

It really amazes me how much water we use for just one shower or bath. About three times as much water goes into a bath compared to a shower, and we have loads of baths because Oliver loves them. But either way, this garden bed is now benefitting from our washing (with non-toxic soaps, of course).

The only glitch we had was when we tried to string the hose along the underside of the house. The curves in the hose caused air to be trapped at points along the hose’s length, and there wasn’t enough pressure from the bath water to push the air through, so the bath didn’t drain. This was fixed when we let the hose free fall from the converter point. When I pull the plug on the bath, it starts to drain freely, and then we get one gigantic glurping gurgling of air up through the bath drain, which is all the trapped air, and then the bath drains freely again.

I know I shouldn’t really be advocating DIY plumbing jobs, but… well, naughty me!



  1. Kitchen Belleicious
    October 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm | | Reply

    oh this is a great idea- if only I would have gotten it sooner. My veggie garden went to heaven a few weeks ago. It just couldn’t stand the drought we were having here in Texas! I shall remember this for next time though!

  2. altadenahiker
    October 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm | | Reply

    Well, I certainly couldn’t do this myself, but I know someone who could possibly do it for me. And I’ve been planning on a greywater solution, but the prices have put me off. This would work. And you’re wrong — it is elegant, in its ingenuity.

  3. Susan
    October 14, 2011 at 12:37 am | | Reply

    What ingenius problem solvers you are! Good for you! Water is such a precious resource, I’m glad to see you being really frugal with it! I’m sure your garden plants will be very happy to, as summer comes on!

    We have been investigating a rain barrel system at our place that will involve a tap off that is hooked up to soaker hoses for the flower beds around the foundation of the house and terraces … next year’s project. It’s not grey water, but at least it will channel all the rain water and the dew that dribbles off the roof tiles every morning!

  4. Christina
    October 23, 2011 at 3:47 am | | Reply

    This looks like a great solution, Angela: simple, do-able, effective.

    Love your pretty little salad burnet plants.

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